10 below

Drove into town and saw some music. At Juniper’s, a solo guitarist, at Skinny Pancake a solo guitarist then a solo banjoist with  loop pedals and electric tricks. Caustic and wired, somehow picky, angsty – it made me tense! The first musician at Juniper’s was calmer – he was doing mostly covers, and tentatively offered an original. I liked it. I walked in on a Jackson Browne tune: “If you can hear me, turn down your radio.”  The level of technique and detail each one brought was really amazing but I ask myself, what does it get me? Impressed, I guess. But it wasn’t contributing to the thing I really want, which is to be moved by the music and moved by the individual standing up there. It’s them I want to get to know. A song is a vehicle for punching through.

Make me think, or give us time to be together, here right now together, with this music. We want to be – suspended – like honey in tea,  hanging above, or in, or under. The rest is ambition talking in the form of filigree. Detail serves, up to a point, for sure. And it can in the best instance become everything if it is pure, selfless. Guys like the Allman Brothers can push this kind of rigor to its own ecstatic purpose – but it’s very hard to do. Takes soul or total emptiness. God can be in the details but often she has a head-ache; those details can be so self-involved and boring. We musicians should all take note.

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