Tuesday, December 22, 2009
Monday, November 23, 2009
Friday, November 20, 2009
I have been living in the United States for 5 years and 5 months. And have not been overseas for 3 years.
Friday, November 13, 2009
Friday, November 6, 2009
Tuesday, November 3, 2009
I had the chance to see "Over the Rhine" last night. It was perfect. Artsy, intimate and crowded venue, great opening band, and of course, the jazzy/folk/blues "Over the Rhine." They are a couple (with a few others for a full band) with the husband playing the piano and bass and guitar and background vocals, and the wife singing and playing the acoustic guitar and piano. She has a voice you can live in.
There's something about career musicians that have been doing their thing for a couple of decades-- if they have stayed truly musicians, then there's always (I've observed, at least) a loose-handed way about them. Kind of a careless manner and a lazy grace in the way they talk about themselves and music. Then it begins---and even when they're not playing, emotion and blood sweat and tears pours from their fingers... you see why they have to do this.
I used to think about all the different careers, and concluded that the arts were a form of prostitution. You must sell yourself for all to see and hear and use as they will.
I still think that's true, but instead of prostitution I think it's more true to say: you either sell something or sell yourself.
And if you're really blessed, you either give something or give yourself.
If you're in business you sell something. You could extend this to teachers, engineers, etc (sell/give ideas, knowledge, technology). Of course, this gets fuzzy because you do give yourself as an educator and as all of those jobs--your time and energy and talents.
But in the arts when you're specifically creating something-- you are selling your lifeblood. your heart, your soul.
That's why for the time being anyway, I'm a closet songwriter who shares with a very limited audience. Not because I have an ethical dilemma with selling/giving songs to everybody, but I don't want to yet. It's a cowardice that I'm fine with for now.
The switch between selling and giving is interesting, because if you're a professional artist, for example, you're selling yourself.... but can do so in a posture of giving. I think that quite a few artists who originally were givers became merely salespeople... manufacturing their trade just for the money, without letting creation affect them. That's horrific.
But the ones that I most admire---and I sensed this in "Over the Rhine"--are the ones that bear the scars of continual creation, the stretch marks and the pain of birthing something new into creation. It costs them.
If it's any good, it's a part of them. And whether they get paid or not (I hope they do, always) , their creation is a gift.
One of my favorite songs is one they opened with, and has a verse that goes:
I don’t wanna waste your time
With music you don’t need
Why should I autograph the book
That you won’t even read
I’ve got a different scar for every song
And blood left still to bleed
But I don’t wanna waste your time
With music you don’t need"
This touches on other things--the connection between musician and audience, and really the connection of all humankind, and how music is not possessed but experienced and entered into.... but that's too much for this blog now. I'll end with another of their songs. When I first heard it, I realized with a lovely shock what it was about, but then forgot about it and got to realize again when they performed it last night.
the Trumpet Child
The trumpet child will blow his horn
Will blast the sky till it’s reborn
With Gabriel’s power and Satchmo’s grace
He will surprise the human race
The trumpet he will use to blow
Is being fashioned out of fire
The mouthpiece is a glowing coal
The bell a burst of wild desire
The trumpet child will riff on love
Thelonious notes from up above
He’ll improvise a kingdom come
Accompanied by a different drum
The trumpet child will banquet here
Until the lost are truly found
A thousand days, a thousand years
Nobody knows for sure how long
The rich forget about their gold
The meek and mild are strangely bold
A lion lies beside a lamb
And licks a murderer’s outstretched hand
The trumpet child will lift a glass
His bride now leaning in at last
His final aim to fill with joy
The earth that man all but destroyed
(piano ending... theme, jazz improv...theme) Satchmo is a nickname for Louis Armstrong ('satchel mouth'--great for playing the cornet). Thelonious Monk was an amazing jazz pianist.
Sunday, October 25, 2009
Taiwan story of the week!
Wednesday, October 21, 2009
It's snowing furiously outside. I'll have to go back out tonight to accompany a choir/orchestra concert, and am hoping I get all the page turns right and remember to pause after a certain introduction. But overall, it should be pretty stress-free and fun.
Saturday, October 17, 2009
Friday, October 16, 2009
Thursday, October 15, 2009
Another Taiwan story-- seven minutes--GO:
Wednesday, October 7, 2009
Tuesday, October 6, 2009
Tuesday, September 22, 2009
What is this hope I feel It's helping What is this peace beyond
understanding You fix the broken heart
There's healing in Your wings
Your love comes like the dawn
and spreads its light over me
You thunder in a whisper
As I tremble you speak to me
And all I have known
Bows low in your throne room
and all I think I need
Melts as you rest in me
Your love cried in the mourning
that turned my heart into coal
You broke the winter
and brought Christmas to my soul...
Thursday, September 17, 2009
Once there was a man with no shoes. I noticed him abruptly one night as I navigated my body away from a pathetic stray’s aura of fleas to safety, squeezed between my mother’s arm and her side. I nearly tripped on his feet, large and smeared with dirty grease, with no plastic sandals resting reassuring by. I looked at his face for a quarter-second and again from the side as I pushed through the lively sidewalk, and then he vanished.
He was slumped against a street post, eyes closed. He had a few measly threads of hair, and his skin deeply bore the customary flogging of age, pollution and heat. A wife beater hung down his ribs, and the bones in his limbs seemed to have consumed every ounce of muscle he presumably had possessed. These observations I took in without thought, but was horrified by his lack of footwear. It was to me the epitome of want.
Shoes were not a source of fashion for me, but filthy streets made their necessity unquestioned. Being in the world of heat and financial support, the variety of shoes narrowed for a girl. I had one pair of each of the following: everyday sandals, sneakers, party-shoes, and sometimes galoshes. The sandals were not often the plastic thongs that were the surpassing currency of footwear, for my flat-footed mother cared for her flat-footed progeny and was continually on the hunt for “more ankle support.” However, the suede niceties of Western sandal wear fell far short in the tropics. Even if they were put away during the rainy season and miraculously avoided every unexpected wet deluge, the wearer’s sweat alone would soon warp them into retirement. Not to mention the orange stripes they tattooed on their owner.
Mom had recently taken us to get new shoes because ours were both grown and worn out; perhaps this was the errand from which we were returning, for shoes were certainly on my mind. In contrast, the old man’s fate was strikingly cruel, to be sleeping out in the open with bare feet and no hope for respite in the morning.
This tired grandpa has clung to my memories with a grip that would have far exceeded his physical strength. A few years later I was ashamed that I did not immediately think of his other signs of destitution, namely his emaciation and homelessness—how silly to fixate on feet. I am not sure why this brought me shame. At any rate, he remains my foremost image of poverty.