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Tuesday, May 10, 2011


wall drawing by sol lewitt

Shostakovich is in the air, a piano concerto, Martha Argerich of Argentina tickling the ivories. Sometimes I think I've heard so much music in this lifetime that I've come to the place where wind chimes have become the most ideal music I know. They're abstract music of chance. The wind isn't blowing now, so the chimes are not making music. When they make music I love to listen. I've been thinking about making a cassette tape of the windchimes on a day with enough wind to keep them going. It would make good music to drive with in the car. Several years ago I made a tape of katydids on one side and crickets on the other. It was relaxing to have it in the air driving. Shostokovich is in full storm at the moment, big piano bass chords and right hand fingers walking slowly in the middle notes.

I hear binLaden, binLaden every time I turn on the radio. The situation in Lybia gets worse daily. It's kind of absurd thinking demonstrations are going to convince a North African dictator, Khadafy in particular, to turn over power, fortune, family, anything, because a bunch of people made some noise on the internet. I get the impression they (NATO) think they can smoke him out not allowing him to use air force to defend himself. Surely they've not forgotten he was the terrorist they kept their eyes on until binLaden. He's clever as a fox and not necessarily rational.

A lightning storm came through. Thought I'd better turn off the computer. As soon as it was off, the storm was gone. Buddy Guy's album Sweet Tea had been calling to me from the shelf. It's his album of blues as played in northern Mississippi, Jr Kimbrough country. Been having it on my mind, possibly because the South has been on my mind so much over the last week or so. This is music Suthun as it gets. It's music you might hear in beach joints on the Gulf coast. It's not California beach music, it's Suthun beach music. This is electric blues guitar to the max.

It calls to mind the concert Martin Scorcese filmed of the Rolling Stones, Shine On. Buddy Guy came onto the stage to play. He and Keith Richards made some Suthun blues outa this world. At the end of their duo, when the audience was in full roar, Richards handed his guitar to Buddy Guy, saying, "It's yours." Ron Wood took a close look at it, recognized it by the smile on his face as the perfect guitar out of Keith's collection to pass on to Buddy Guy. Being totally outside the know in such matters, I'm guessing it must have belonged to one of the great blues singers of Mississippi, maybe Robert Johnson or Son House, somebody like that. Something only Keith Richards could afford when it came up on auction.

The big difference between Shostokovich and Buddy Guy is when Buddy Guy is playing it's all I can do to pull my head out of the speakers. His music, his guitar, his vocals, the songs pull my attention the same as a really strong electromagnet. I sit here, fingers on keyboard, foot tapping, grooving, flowing with the rhythm his band generates in the air. This is why I can't write to you and listen to music at once. It never works. Had to turn it off. Earlier, I'd heard the classical dj say something about playing music that it clears the mind. It does that for me too, listening. Perhaps it's something I found young that could at least temporarily wipe away worries and concerns. Shostakovich pulled me in too, the piano, though it's not quite so strong a magnetic attraction. I like hearing his approach to mind music. Buddy Guy's I'll call heart music. By heart I mean emotional. Blues, like mountain music, isn't music unless it's played from the heart.

I'm back to windchimes. Hong Kong composer Tan Dun understands the sound of windchimes. Japanese composer, Toru Takemitsu understands wind chimes too, and he understands Japanese gardens. Takemitsu understands water flow. Sometimes his music is like flowing water and wind chimes. Water dripping from the edge of the roof and from the trees make the only sound in the stillness after the storm has passed.


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