Bluebird; New York, July 17, 1939: Charlie Barnet-ss-as-ts-dir/J. Owens-B. Burnet-B. May-t/B. Hall-D. Ruppersberg-B. Robertson-tb/K. Bloom-G. Kinsey-as/D. McCook-J. Lamare-ts/B. Miller-p/B. Etri-g/P. Stevens-b/R. Michaels-d/Charlie Barnet-Judy Ellington-v.
The prefix “meta” comes from Ancient Greek, meaning “in the middle” or, rather, transcending or encompassing. Therefore, the term “metapoem” describes a poem that is about poetry itself. A metapoem is a literary technique and has a certain effect upon the reader.
But now that I’m writing this, I can’t recall from my English major if the literary technique needs to be blatant and clear or if it can be covert and hidden, as in the poem “Diving into the Wreck” by Adrienne Rich.
In the poem, the shipwreck represents the current state of poetry, all of its history leading up to the wreck, the diver as the modern poet, and the responsibility of that poet to find new ways of expressing the modern, while also at the same time incorporating and preserving what has come before: “There is a ladder. The ladder is always there … We know what it is for, we who have used it.”
Either way, here’s a jazz side with no hidden meaning and one that features the singing attempt of no other than Charlie Barnet himself. And as an extra bonus, it’s a jazz side which is about the broadcasting and the listening of jazz, so I guess it counts as a type of jazz “metasong.”
Readers may remember the 1974 top-40 rock song single “Clap for the Wolfman” by the Canadian band The Guess Who, with their tribute to the influential disc jockey, Wolfman Jack–also a type of metasong.