Saturday, June 22, 2013

Alabama Shakes and the anguish of hearing something so good that it confuses the crap out of me

Before I start my rant, let me say that Alabama Shakes is so good in every way that I cannot even begin to adequately describe them so I will let you discover them for yourself though you may have realized this fact long before me.

Back to regular programming.

I am puzzled.

I get inspired by rock music and feel exactly the same way (listening) that I do when playing Vivaldi or any number of other classical composers.

Yet I am told that classical musicians cannot expect to operate the same way as pop players (hundreds of performances to hone their craft, some in settings that are uncomfortable, all involving amplification, a level of accessibility that transcends reality)... why can't classical musicians do this??  I am puzzled.

And pissed.  Because this doubt eats into my soul and I hear fear in my playing at times when all I want to hear is the raw pulse of life that I actually feel and hear in the music.

I see so many good things in the general approach of rock and pop etc while being acutely aware that there is no such thing as a general approach AND I really know absolutely nothing about that kind of life.

I also seem to be musically promiscuous and desire the art of so many performers.  In fact, just about anyone who I actually get to hear live has the ability to inspire flat-out adoration in my musical heart.  And it is not just my musical ignorance, but each of these artists defies categorization to my ears.

Anyone who knows me is aware that I am in love with any number of artists at a given time and entertaining serious crushes on a broader scale.  These are almost never classical artists (exceptions include the obvious).  I just don’t want most of them.  And by ‘want’, I mean that I cannot fantasize about being on stage with them or channeling any aspect of them.

When I watched Brittany Howard on stage this week with Alabama Shakes, I saw a deeply serious person, someone so kinetically powerful, focused, brave, alone, yet eerily connected to an adoring audience that was absurdly diverse.... pushing against me on all sides were elderly wealthy white couples, teenage dope-smoking deeply focused boys, a quartet of charming fags and hags, a beautiful rasta man dancing with a red-haired tattoo-covered girl... a scruffily-bearded hipster with a trio of beauties... screaming office-worker women...mothers with daughters, fathers with small list could go on and on.  Humanity was represented in some way that was both confusing and perfect.

Brittany addresses very few words to the audience beyond her extravagantly-delivered lyrics and burning playing... her band of serious men was so locked into a sense of time that goes beyond mere accuracy of beat.

And in fact, the stadium sound was not nearly as good as what I hear on recordings, yet it is essential that the band perform in a way that can click in with the desire of 5000 people.

Why can’t classical musicians do this???  Our music is good enough.  WTF.

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