Life, Death and Hyperbole
I have faced plenty of deaths and tragedies in my life. When death came to school, I always used to tell my students, “Death is a big part of life. Save it for last. Do everything else first.” I taught the tragedies of Shakespeare and they always boiled down to a great person’s life ending because of a fatal flaw in character. Pride, greed, avarice, jealousy: these emotions rob you of life and blind your vision of what makes life worth living. I have lost four great people in my life in the last forty days. They weren’t Macbeth or Othello or Lear but they were great to me: fine, humble, honest, loving people. I will miss them and honor them by following their examples and owning my life. “To be or not to be” is not the only question. Better to start with the 5w’s: who, what, where, when and why. Be in the present.
I’m feeling fully alive and activated right now, if a bit over-stimulated! I built more great connections and memories in September and loved my opportunity to tour manage for Triphazard. I’m booking tours on the Gigspots circuit and my showcases at DipCo. I’m writing bios and album reviews for regional bands. I’m sponsoring a rock festival in Wilmington and a simulcast charity concert from Charlotte. I’m hired again to be Director of Operations for Lancaster Roots and Blues and it’s a thrill a minute. I want to stand on Tellus’ roof and scream about all the great music and good times coming to Lancaster and the mid-Atlantic region.
But should you believe the hype? Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Just because I say something’s great doesn’t make it so for everyone. So let me try to quantify and qualify “great” with regard to music, performance and life. When I say, “It’s a beauty,” what do I mean?
To me, the beauty value of a song or performance is in direct relation to how alive it makes me feel. Physical manifestations may include toe-tapping and range through swaying to dancing. I may hum. I may sing along. Regarding thought: does this performance make me curious and/or capture my attention? Is it unique, familiar or a marriage of the two? Can I identify with the story or idea being presented? Life is measured in motion. Can you put my body and my mind in motion?
Move my mind and body and you release my soul. That’s where imagination and emotion live. Your performance sparks my memories and/or desires. My pains, my dreams, my secrets and my joys are animated by your melody or lyrics. You become the soundtrack for the banquet in my head where your angels and demons meet mine. Or you’re a nice distraction in the grocery store. La-di-da, I need cereal.
Motion, thought, imagination: those are my criteria. To what degree does a performance make me move, think and feel? Genuine music moves you; it’s as biological as a heartbeat. People are naturally curious too but humans mostly want to hear about themselves and familiar experiences. Food, comfort, company: that’s what we like. And not having those things makes us cry out from birth. A great song reawakens those moments in life, beautiful or brutal, when you were totally in the present. Whether it was that perfect first kiss, watching that person walk away or just your imagination, great music takes you there. And live music is better. And America’s music takes me there: folk, jazz and the blues. If you start there, I’ll likely follow a while.
So stand back while I crank up the hype machine! The pride I take in facilitating these performances is based in humility, honesty and love for life. Come celebrate humanity before the dust is all settled!