Friday, June 24, 2011
Seek, Listen, Vibrate & Eat Cheeseburgers...........
Albert Ayler put it succinctly as the title track to one of his last (and sadly misunderstood) albums – “Music is the Healing Force of the Universe”. I think Albert pretty much covered a lot of philosophical ground with that statement. And, of course, I happen to agree with him. Not in some witch-doctor, shamanistic sense, but in a more profound and subtle way. I would propose that a fair number of folks on the planet find comfort and strength in music on a daily basis. Sometimes the right piece of music heard in the right circumstances can alter the path of a day that has pointed to “Misery” on the Crap-o-Meter of life at least towards “tolerable” and sometimes better.
Rahsaan Roland Kirk had his own term for this phenomenon – he called it “Bright Moments”. Under Kirk’s usage and (loose) definition, one could certainly have plenty of Bright Moments that were not necessarily musical, but considering his own hyper-allegiance to the overall experience of “sound” there is little doubt music was a key piece of the overall puzzle picture.
Getting the chance to hear live music is especially gratifying – particularly if the performance is good and the music inspired. Live performance can even elevate music beyond what an “official” recorded version conveys. When I saw the Who in 2002 at Madison Square Garden they played “You Better You Bet” – an okay song on record, not one of the best in my opinion, but live – it rocked! A good musical performance should be like that – a sonic magic show.
Listening to music at home or in the car is a different experience. Mainly, these days, it’s more of a private affair. Like reading a book – it’s you and the art confronting each other. That’s when more subtle information is shared. Those experiences where you go “wow! I felt that once!” or “How come I never thought to use those words….” The cross-over country singer from the 60s – Roger Miller – is a primo example of someone who came along at the right time to put lots of ironic, yet common, ideas that people have floating around in their brains to expression through songs. Like the song “The last word in lonesome is me” for example. Did you catch that? Clever guy that Roger Miller, eh?
Sometimes its not even words – it could just be a sound. Like the sound of a hit record from the 70s that you haven’t heard in 20+ years – it can transport you back to a (hopefully) happier time. A bunch of years ago, oldies stations started playing that song “Sweet City Woman” like it was 1974 all over again. Goofball song, but heck – I was singing along. A few months ago I broke out some Ornette Coleman records I hadn’t played in awhile. It was like meeting an old friend. I have those reactions and I’ll bet plenty of other folks do too (well, maybe not with Ornette Coleman exactly….. heh heh). I call these people “Sound Freaks”. Rahsaan called them “Eulipions”.
Rahsaan continues to be a major source of inspiration. Not the least of which in terms of attitude towards music. He was a jazz musician, yet he hated the label “jazz” preferring to call his music “Black Classical Music” which I can totally dig. But he had the right idea. Music is music is music. It’s the vibration and the intention of its creator that matters. People that create music from a purely selfish and materialistic point of view create cold and nasty music. Sun Ra knew that. If music is good it reaches your heart and uplifts you – even the blues. ‘Cause the blues understands your feelings – happy and sad and all points in between. The brilliant NRBQ guitar-slinger Steve Ferguson called it “Humanistic Music” – the good stuff.
I don’t know where I’m going with all this except to say I had a good journey with a fellow “Eulipion” today that involved music, philosophy and good cheeseburgers – a winning combination in my book. Our time on the planet is so short – the Benevolent Creator (upon bestowing free-will to all of us) gives us challenges every day – sometimes ones that seem too much to bear (and trying to do it alone CAN be too much to bear). But the gift of music can pull us through and be a connecting point to like-minded people so we can relate to each other.
The summer is officially here. Time to give thanks, recharge spiritual batteries and explore the sounds around us – composed and non-composed. Seek, listen, vibrate and pass it on if its good to you……………….