moments before the wind.

October 27, 2005

the carousel of time

Filed under: authenticity, folk, live shows, music, writing — alimarcus @ 9:16 am

Bonnie and Norm were here this past weekend. Having the parents around is always such a pleasure; so many childhood frustrations seem ridiculous, but then again i think i may have spent most of it trying to convince them to see me the way i see myself. i think at this point we've finally arrived at a kind of equal ground. They no longer hint at the 'professional degree' as a source of life's success in the world. As much as I really loved being in school, I realize that the things i loved about being a student are qualities that one can possess outside of that ugly, regimented cubbyhole of a lifestyle. Eugh. Anyways, I've never been one to seek approval from my parents in order to go ahead with what I want to do, but nevertheless, it's nice to see it in their faces.

So my mom went on a rant one night about how the Youth of America just dont have the passion and the activism that her generation did. Regarding today's political situation, in her eyes it seems like everyone talks, and complains, but no one really cares, because if they did, it would be like the 60's all over again. Well, I think she's wrong. Most people I know care. Most people I know are angry. The truth is, the cultural masses have become displaced; the days of thousands of people meeting to protest at the Lincoln Memorial are long gone. Now, there's voices floating out over wires and airwaves, each to be sought out individually but together they form a collective outburst with very passionate feelings. Bondawg (yup, that's my mama's nickname, thanks to Maggie Lane) is right that in today's world they do not show their fury the way it was done back then. but it is not true that there is no fury shown.

The result of this discussion is that it's been bothering me ever since. I know how angry I am, but I have never walked in a protest march (of which there are no shortage of here in Seattle, nevermind in DC where I grew up). I've never written my congresspeople the way my brother has urged me to for years. I've never donated money to the Democratic party, or any campaign. But I am going to do my part, in the way that I know how. I started last night at the Hopvine, by singing. The protest songs that fueled a generation's oustanding commitment to humanity, those are what i can spread. I realize that to a lot of people it's archaic and not relevant to our times, but there's a certain timelessness to questions like "when will they ever learn?" and "how may times can a man turn his head and pretend that he just doesn't see?"

I usually prefer to refrain from singing 'cover' songs, unless there is some sort of personal commitment to the purpose. Well, this is certainly personal, and the truth is, i have no problem singing folk songs in the traditional sense, because its one of the strands of musical history that has really turned me into who I am as a musician. Acknowledging that is an obvious choice. Anyways, i think that all human existence is a struggle, and protest songs are therefore the epitome of the folk idiom. What I love about them is actually one of the elements to most of my own songs (a meager attempt at appropriation, i guess) and that is the fact that the mere existence of this music is a way of facing the terrible and the bad and coming out with hope and courage. We all could use a little of that.


October 20, 2005

i met leo the lion

Filed under: authenticity, folk, live shows, music, reviews, rock, writing — alimarcus @ 11:03 am

I got to see Dar Williams again last night. And i got to meet her. so cool. What I love about her most is the way she uses her voice in really intriguing ways. There's sort of two different registers she sings in; one, mostly in the lower ranges, is piercing, sharp, painful almost, with this tight vibrato thing, and the other, usually higher, that's like a blanket of sheer sound: it seems to be coming to you and from you and to her and from her, in all directions at the same time. The part that draws me in is the interplay between these two registers; the places that she uses, each, what she's saying, what the music sounds like, and what parts she switches, intermingles, or otherwise employs. I wonder about so many things, like, is she always doing it on purpose? how much of it has to do with her range? how much of it is directly related to the lyrics? and on and on. it's totally inspiring to someone like me, who has experienced the kind of thought (and also lack-of-thought) that goes into performing. Well, in a lot of ways, you could look at Mariah Carey in this light; she is-or was, for most of the 90's anyways-extremely adept at this. Dar Williams brings a kind of legitimacy to it that I can relate to on a much more visceral level though.
in a way, her music exhibits this exploration of the space between in more ways than her singing style. Her songs frequently meld comedy with grave seriousness. Just last night, she must have introduced at least three songs ("Teen For God," "Spring Street," "The End of the Summer") as a combination of religion/spirituality with some more banal element of living (summer camp, fashion, local farming, respectively). Other songs that do this in a stunning manner include "The Babysitter's Here," "It Happens Everyday" "Party Generation," "What Do You Hear In These Sounds?" and "We Learned the Sea."
anyways, i could go one forever about this sort of thing.

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