I’m reading a beautiful book. A beautiful book.
Every time I turn a page or Gary D. Schmidt turns a phrase, I tear up to the music and the muscles of my throat resemble knots that ripple outwards to my inconsolable heart, upwards to my incidental brain. It feels as though my body has been waiting a long time for love like this, to whimper and bend and roll and drift through pleasure to its beautiful conclusion.
What is my part in this tryst of a book, a masterpiece of quiet majesty, contemplating unmet needs with surreptitious kindness? The story finds my innocence and asks me to find myself between the bedding of the protagonist’s inglorious past and clamorous future, chrysalis of fortune, harbinger of truth.
But how do you love a story back?
For now I think no more is asked of me than what is true already, comfort in the pages of a book. The characters accept me as I am, their witness, procreator of their lives.
The writer does what I refuse to do. He grasps his precious time on earth and dares to give it back a thousand fold, a million zillion pictures in a word, a story told by feathers in a painting, orchids in a glass, mother in her apron, teacher in a class.
Baseball in a heartbeat, flying past.
Does a teacher facing students, jazz group improvising, swimmer doing workouts, coder fixing software, thinker seeking solace seem safety prone to you? Are these the risk-averse?
Might activists be poster-folk for the risk-willing? They march for justice, take stands, venture into parts unknown, right?
And do they also pay attention to what works v. what may backfire, waste time, disillusion volunteers? Do they follow best practice like the blandest nine to fiver?
What is risk anyway? Choosing things off routine - a different restaurant, new font, weird hobby? Or must there be danger and challenge involved?
I abhor heights. Am I risk friendly, or daft, to hike the Grand Canyon on the back of a mule or even on soles of stubborn boots?
What’s the difference between creating a work of art or creating a social norm? One or the other might help people thrive. Either one might miserably fail. You can’t be sure as you take the dive.
Whatever risky move you make, you’ll check your wings are working well before you trust the wind.
Grand Canyon photo by chensiyuan [GFDL or ...
When I’m getting ready for a big show like yesterday’s, I wonder what an introvert like me is doing in a place like live music. But I soldier onward - change strings, replace batteries, load gear and head out for sound check - because there’s nothing more worth doing than a good live show.
Last night’s was excellent. Musicians dared their best. Listeners showed their colors, which in a world of cynicism and skeptics is a fine blend of innocence and risk.
It is risky to seek out live music when technology delivers the canned version so well. Why bother? I guess people bother because they still hope to be moved in a way recorded sound can’t move them.
In yesterday’s big show, Walt and I encountered an audience ready to engage. The audience filled the room with its collective personality, gathered from years of lived life. Our listeners entrusted us with their memories and desire. We belonged to them. We expressed what they gave us and the songs became more than we'd experienced before.
Hyperbole? Unverifiable speculation? OK. How can anyone explain the rush of inexplicable connection? I’m an introvert; I love to paw through experience and find meaning. But this kind of connection remains a mystery the audience and...
‘You’ve internalized, Bob Dylan - his spirit comes right through and we all feel it,’ says a Dylan fan gesturing toward rows of chairs recently filled with hushed listeners AKA noisy clappers in Fairview Park’s Meeting Room A.
Libraries, we are told, are no longer meant to be quiet zones.
Good thing, too, as Muscle and Bone sets up camp in county branches this spring. On a given night, Dylan songs seep into the fiction and non-fiction, the computer labs, story nooks and teen crannies - much as his poetic observations of life, liberty and love have marinated our music over his decades long, unofficial reign as songwriter laureate to the nation.
Library patrons, Bob Dylan and National Poetry Month turn out to be a potent mix. An early sign of audience enthusiasm was how many people signed our email list as they came in, before the concert. These listeners expect their library to enlighten and engage. They’re open and eager for inspiration.
After the show, we packed up gear and scanned the site for missed pics and stray capos. We spied the stack of feedback forms kindly filled out by our audience - libraries are big on data - and if we had surreptitiously perused those surveys before switching off fluorescent lights and heading home, we...
This is a music video for Wish Them Well, an original song from my rock album, Monet’s Orbit. The sound recording was done at Dark Tree Studios by Susan Weber, guitar and vocals; Walt Campbell, bass, vocals and harmonica; Trees Mausser, drums and percussion; Jay Bentoff, engineering. I edited the video in Final Cut Pro X.
Once again I thank the filmmakers who share their video for re-mixing in this project. Here are the attributions for their work: