Dave and Iola Brubeck on Earth is Our Mother
SS: Another piece that has a powerful message is Earth Is Our Mother. Can you tell us a little bit about the message there, and how that work came to be?
DB: Well, again, Iola had heard on PBS a show on one man that was running --
IB: The Joseph Campbell Mythology Series.
SS: With Bill Moyers.
DB: Yeah, and told me about the Chief Seattle speech that he was bringing up in the show, and that how we should set that. And so she set to work on it, and I set to work on it too. (laughter)
IB: I had sent away for a transcript as they always say that you can do, and then it was sort of put away. Then, Dave was approached by this Marquette -- not Marquette University but a university in Marquette. Floyd Slotterback was the choral director there, and they're having an anniversary. And, they wanted to commission a piece. So, they spoke to Dave about commissioning a piece, and I said, "Well, maybe this is an opportunity to set these words then."
So, then we did more investigations and research and that sort of thing, and found out that those words probably weren't Chief Seattle's. But, he said words that were close to that. The meaning was there, but it was actually somebody else who had written the very poetic words. But, we discovered that after (laughter) it was already set.
DB: But then, one of the great, great grandchildren, a grandson of Chief Seattle did read something that was from Chief Seattle at the end. And I was --
SS: At one of the performances?
DB: Yeah. And --
IB: Some of his descendants came to performances in Seattle. And, we had gone to the island where they were and visited the grave of Chief Seattle. And, I cannot think now of the name of the tribe.
IB: It's very related to Chief Seattle's tribe, but not exactly the same. A man who is a spiritual advisor for his tribe, I think his name was [Delos Anoles?].
And, he spoke before each of the concerts and gave a traditional prayer. And, one day -- there were several concerts lined up. And, one day he said, "Well, I'm leaving today and going back to my tribe. But don't worry. I'll be back tonight. If you don't see me this afternoon at rehearsal, don't worry about it."
But when he came back, he brought with him eagle feathers that had been blessed with the smoke and whatever ritual that they go through, and presented Dave with the eagle feathers. And, that's something that we prize very much because nothing could be more significant than to receive that. Then tell them what they told you.
DB: Oh, I could talk for a long time about that.
IB: (laughter) But I think the story about the eagle feathers is a good one.
DB: Oh, when he gave me the eagle feathers, which is illegal to give a --
IB: Except for Native Americans...
DB: -- to take an eagle feather from a nest is illegal today. But he said, "Now, when I give you this, remember when you cross over, you wave that, and we'll let you in."
IB: (laughter) We'll recognize you. We'll know who you are, that you're one of us. You're one of the people. SS: I hope you have that feather in a safe place.
DB: Oh boy, do I! It's in our front room still. Or, you took it down.
IB: It's in the dining room. (laughter)
DB: Dining room. Yeah, it's always been very handy in case you need it.
SS: Yeah, keep it close at hand.
To view additional information on copyright and related rights of this item, such as to purchase copies of images and/or obtain permission to publish them, click here to view the Holt-Atherton Special Collections policies.
Holt-Atherton Special Collections, University of the Pacific Library in conjunction with the Experience Music Project