Episode Five - The Cow Song

Episode 5: The Cow Song

Libretto

Although the local witch has been killed, farm animals are still dying, and at Vireo’s home, a cow steps forward to give its perspective on the situation. 
 

Featuring 

Vireo Wind Octet; The San Francisco Girls Chorus; Shadow Hills High School Regiment of the Realm Marching Band, Indio, CA
 

 

(A breath. Back a brief jump in time; Vireo and Mother each in their own space)

VIREO
If you don't want my fear, then
Where do you want my fear to go?
Later, later, farther down
Further
Further
Further out we go

 

MOTHER
Invisible hands touch my ears and
Tell me words will come later
Invisible lips touch my own and
Tell me breath will come –

 

MOTHER + VIREO
Later –

 

VIREO
Later, farther down

 

MOTHER
Fire comes and burns me down and
Tells me: farther down
I say my piece full extent, out of breath
Falling
All the way down
I pay out
I pray flat out
I say my name to the good and
Cows are still dying

(Milkmaids take the field. A dying Cow appears.)

 

MILKMAIDS
Ah!

 

COW
The meadow was green and the stream was laughing
The last day I stood alive
With an udder full and proud of my cheeses
I laughed, so pleased to survive

 

MILKMAIDS
With our simple tools:
Buckets, stools
Slim hands made by God
We hish to brim
Whole, less, and skim
We pray Him, pray Him –

 

COW
But fate laughs last to catch you napping
And I stood asleep in the sun
Knocked utterly flat, no thanks or pleases
I fell, as beef, all undone

 

MILKMAIDS
Find our purity...
Minding rods and rules
As the milk flows
As the lily grows
As the snowflake blows
May soul dispose
Save me – rosary –
Soul reposes spotlessly

 

COW
Knocked utterly flat, no thanks or pleases
I fell, as beef, all undone

No thanks or pleases...

 

MILKMAIDS
As the lily grows

As the snowflake blows
As the milk flows

 

COW
No thanks or pleases
May soul dispose
Save me – rosary –
Soul reposes spotlessly

Returning home after the unsuccessful treatment, Vireo’s mother reports her doubt about the efficacy of religious faith in treating Vireo’s problems: naming Pernette as a witch seems to have done nothing to ease Vireo’s inner struggle. Witchcraft is still haunting the village -- cows are dying for no apparent reason!

Moving to the barn, a cow steps forward and sings the story of her life to the attendant milkmaids. Joined by a marching band, she recounts with pride her short but meaningful existence as both a provider of milk and as a slab of beef.  Inside the house, Vireo sits for her portrait, while the marching band consumes the cow at a backyard barbecue just outside.

Get the free PBS App

Full Episodes

Upcoming Airdates

Jeffrey Deitch's Los Angeles

The charming, unusual and at times polarizing Jeffrey Deitch left Los Angeles in 2013 after a tumultuous run as the director of MOCA ending in his resignation. He makes his return with a new gallery opening with the first LA exhibit of renowned Chinese artist and activist, Ai Weiwei. A behind-the-scenes look at the contemporary art world through the eyes of a legendary art dealer and curator.

  • 2020-09-27T10:00:00-07:00
    KCET-HD

Light & Space

In a world filled with noise, distractions and chaos, a number of artists seek to push the boundaries of perception and experience. The Light and Space movement of the 1960s explored minimalism with a uniquely Californian spin — with a keen attention to the interaction of light and space. Crucially, the materials these artists relied on to create these perceptual experiences emerged from the postwar aerospace industry and its advances.

  • 2020-09-30T14:00:00-07:00
    KCET-HD
  • 2020-09-30T18:00:00-07:00
    KCET-HD
  • 2020-10-04T10:00:00-07:00
    KCET-HD

The New West Coast Sound: An L.A. Jazz Legacy

Growing up amongst jazz legends within the deep musical traditions of Leimert Park, drummer Mekala Session and his peers grapple with how to preserve this rich legacy—striving to carry forward the tenets that took root in the work of Horace Tapscott and his Pan Afrikan Peoples Arkestra. This is the story of Los Angeles’ emerging generation of community-focused black musicians.

  • 2020-10-07T14:00:00-07:00
    KCET-HD
  • 2020-10-07T18:00:00-07:00
    KCET-HD
  • 2020-10-11T10:00:00-07:00
    KCET-HD

CURRENT:LA FOOD

In October of 2019 the city of Los Angeles through the Department of Cultural Affairs and the Institute of Contemporary Art organized a city-wide exhibition of public art and events based around the theme of food. Each artist interpreted a different aspect or issue surrounding food or food systems in the city from climate change, to food access, civic engagement to waste and recycling. Activating public parks throughout the city, artists created works to spark conversation about what it means to live in Los Angeles and how to work together for a sustainable and hopeful future.

  • 2020-10-14T14:00:00-07:00
    KCET-HD
  • 2020-10-14T18:00:00-07:00
    KCET-HD
  • 2020-10-18T10:00:00-07:00
    KCET-HD

The Watts Towers Arts Center

The Watts Towers Arts Center was founded by artists and educators in the 1960s and has been a beacon of art and culture in the community for decades. This episode features the work of artists including Noah Purifoy, John Outterbridge, Betye Saar, Charles White and Mark Steven Greenfield.

  • 2020-10-21T14:00:00-07:00
    KCET-HD
  • 2020-10-21T18:00:00-07:00
    KCET-HD
  • 2020-10-25T10:00:00-07:00
    KCET-HD