Biographical Poetry posted March 24, 2024

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One of Us

Joan Osborne

by Debbie D'Arcy

Kentucky born and spirited, this girl would long to be
a priest within the Cath'lic church, an aim she'd never see,
for, trapped inside a Spider Web, her gender would debar
and she would leave that dream behind, pursue another star.
Still yearning to take centre stage, a film career took sway;
a Ladder to fulfilment that meant moving miles away.
And NYC would be her home, an artist's chosen hub,
she'd work to earn her study fees by singing in a club.
Inspired by Billie Holiday, she'd strike a chord, beguile,
and fans would be enchanted by her sweet, laconic style.
She'd Relish then the path ahead, the journey still to chart,
combining love of poetry, of Whitman's stirring art.
As luck prevailed, an offer came to set her world alight -
a song called One of Us would stun and soar with global might.
Its beauty prompts us to explore our faith, devoid of fuss,
and asks the simple question: What if God was one of us?
Though sceptical of large-scale faith, she found a middle road,
by blending Christ'an ethics with a Buddhist conduct code;
creating in a world so wild a chance to Flyaway
and find her peace and harmony while Dreamin' 'bout the Day.
Her image thus would mellow from the party girl, once known,
with brand new sense of agency, contented in her tone.
She sings to us of Righteous Love, of getting to our feet;
a truth: Nobody Owns Your soul, it's time to feel complete.
And Brooklyn's vibrant centre is the place she loves to be,
recording in her Fingerprints its culture, history.
An activist, philanthropist, who's etched a role in life,
addressing social issues marred by Trouble and (its) Strife.
With gutsy rock and bluesy folk, this star has risen high,
evolving independently, empow'red by faith to fly.
And all the while, she plays her part, in deed as well as art;
in times of woe and Broken Wings, she echoes truth with heart.



Image: courtesy of Google free pics; information sources: Wikipedia and other internet biographies.
Many thanks to Jesse James Doty for his subject introduction and also his contribution.
Song titles have been used for the poetic purpose of the biography and may not necessarily relate to the context of the songs or the period. They may also be slightly amended or shortened to accommodate the meter.
Dates in brackets refer to original release of singles/albums.
Thank you for your kind understanding.

Stanza 1: Spider Web (1995)
Born in 1962 in Anchorage, Kentucky and raised a Roman Catholic, she distanced herself from that religion after telling her parents she wanted to become a priest, only to discover that her gender denied her this ambition. She subsequently set her sights on acting.

Stanza 2: Ladder (1997)
She moved to NYC in the late 80s to study filmmaking at New York University. In character with her independent drive, she raised the fees by singing in local clubs, immersing herself in the live music scene and forming a band.

Stanza 3: Relish (1995 debut studio album)
Billie Holiday, otherwise known as Lady Day was an African-American jazz singer with a career spanning over 30 years.
Walt Whitman, American poet, essayist and journalist (1819-1892).

Stanza 4: One of Us (1995, written by Eric Bazilian of The Hooters)
This song was her debut single and became a hit around the world. It deals with belief in the various aspects of an anthropomorphic God, inviting the listener to consider the divine within the mundane. "A simple, direct statement of faith, honest and unadorned..."
By this time, she had invested her amassed funds into her own record label Womanly Hips Records.

Stanza 5: Flyaway (1996); Dreamin' about the Day (1996).
As an adult, she regards herself as sceptical of large-scale, organised religion and regards herself as a "spiritual person," directly influenced by Buddhism and Christianity.

Stanza 6: Righteous Love (2000 2nd studio album); Nobody Owns You (2023)

Stanza 7: Fingerprints (1996) Trouble and Strife (2020 10th studio album)
She has a special connection with Brooklyn, most notably the neighbourhood of Boerum Hill where the influence of culture, history and society is to be found extensively in her songwriting. She has a long history of political activism, in particular with Planned Federation of Parenthood of America as well as Rock the Vote. She has also supported the following charities: The Michael J Fox Foundation, War Child, V-Day, Playing for Change Foundation.

Stanza 8: Broken Wings (2012 CD track listing)
She continues to perform, record and produce albums as well as tour and headline events. She lives with her daughter (born in 2004) and partner in Brooklyn, New York.

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