Monday, July 7, 2008

garden state

Family connections left behind, for now, in favor of professional ones. What a blessed, infuriating, bittersweet and sweet time we had, joined to all of these intimate strangers, faces giving away the blood family, the rest of us volunteers hanging around the edges. Different people standing before different doors, several journeys already begun privately. Confidences shared, grievances aired, breeze shot. Leaving just in time. In an ivy-covered town now for a few teaching days, helping people string breath, words, and tone together as though the universe could be held fast by such connections. But that's a crazy idea...


Friday, July 4, 2008

home on the range

I am near several Great Lakes, celebrating holiday and family milestones with an extended group of inlaws. Last night saw (as does every night involving a reunion of these far-flung brothers) a massive poker game, which featured home-brewed beer, fierce competition, and several iPods on shuffle. I was struck by the wide-ranging tastes of this group (five men ages seventeen through forty-nine, varying levels of education, one professional musician, two former high school band members, one church choir singer, and one who proclaims himself tone deaf). We heard the Mozart Requiem, Esperanza Spalding, Hank Williams, Mars Volta, Radiohead, Soundgarden, Chris Whitley, Lucinda Williams, Frank Sinatra, Maria Callas, on and on. Today we'll gather for a completely typical Independence Day celebration, brats and beens and sparklers, which is to say that there's nothing particularly spectacular about the general musical taste of this family.

People are smart! People are interested in many kinds of musical expression and are touched by many things! Why does there seem to be a disconnect between this obvious truth and the workings of the music business?

Often I find myself frustrated by a culture that seems too lazy to leave its own house, divorced from the magic of gathering in a special place for a special purpose. Last night I found myself blind on the other side of the elephant, wondering how it is possible to underestimate ourselves so deeply.

ps...if you have not heard the above mentioned Ms. Spalding, "run", do not "walk", to the nearest "place" where you can get your hands on her music.