Monday, January 26, 2009

"Some Rules and Hints for Students and Teachers," by John Cage

Rule 1: Find a place you trust, and then, try trusting it for awhile.

Rule 2: (General duties as a student) Pull everything out of your teacher. Pull everything out of your fellow students.

Rule 3: (General duties as a teacher) Pull everything out of your students.

Rule 4: Consider everything an experiment.

Rule 5: Be self disciplined. This means finding someone wise or smart and choosing to follow them. To be disciplined is to follow in a good way. To be self disciplined is to follow in a better way.

Rule 6: Follow the leader. Nothing is a mistake. There is no win and no fail. There is only make.

Rule 7: The only rule is work. If you work it will lead to something. It is the people who do all the work all the time who eventually catch onto things. You can fool the fans--but not the players.

Rule 8: Do not try to create and analyze at the same time. They are different processes.

Rule 9: Be happy whenever you can manage it. Enjoy yourself. It is lighter than you think.

Rule 10: We are breaking all the rules, even our own rules and how do we do that? By leaving plenty of room for "x" qualities.

Helpful Hints:
  • Always be around.
  • Come or go to everything.
  • Always go to classes.
  • Read everything you can get your hands on.
  • Look at movies carefully and often.
  • SAVE EVERYTHING. It may come in handy later.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Darius Rucker at the Frank Erwin Center

I am trying to decide which melted substance is most similar to Darius Rucker's voice. Butter is too thin (although properly yummy) and it's not deep and dark enough. Something like warmed up Hershey's syrup would come close--but not close enough. Really, don't settle for Hershey's. Make your own sauce--a dark chocolate sauce that isn't too sweet, whose flavors have taken awhile to meld together, one that is smooth and makes your taste buds want to keep hitting the "rewind" button so they can feel it all over again. That is how your ears and heart will feel while they listen to Darius Rucker sing in person.

I will write about Brad Paisley later. Today's post is all about Darius.

First of all, thank God Rucker is now making country music. As a Texan, a singer/songwriter, and a fan, I love country music. Lots of kinds of music are great, but country is where the best and most real songs are. I'm grateful that Rucker is making music at all, because it's been way too long since I've heard from him. And finally, thank God that Rucker gets to have a chance to get out from under being called "Hootie."

I was still roaming the massive Frank Erwin Center during the first song, so I missed a bit. I think he played about a 25-minute set. He has the vibe of being simply a great and very experienced entertainer, grabbing each song and jumping inside of it, sometimes giving a brief introduction that helps the audience connect with it, always using his body, face, and gestures to get his point across. I got to witness this huge presence on stage, and I wondered about what exactly that mystery element is, why he's so easy and fun to watch. I especially wondered about this during Dierks Bentley's set afterward--I liked it, and Bentley certainly works his tail off, but he didn't fascinate me the way Rucker does. And then, oh then, there is that voice--oozy, flowy, like melted chocolate. Even on the songs I hadn't heard before, I could hear every note, every word, from up in my nosebleed section seat. I thought about something my voice teacher, Liz Cass, says about how good technique enables a singer to convey much deeper levels of emotion.

I loved hearing Rucker's hit, "Don't Think I Don't Think About It," as well as "It Won't Be Like This for Long," and his rousing cover of Hank Jr.'s "Family Tradition." But the chocolate ran the thickest during his country tinged acoustic rendition of "Let Her Cry," his hit from the old days. Hearing it again made me appreciate what a great song it was and is.

So Darius, since I know you're a devoted reader of my blog, here's my recap of your show:
1. I'm happy I had the chance to hear you sing in person.
2. You inspire me to keep working on my singing.
3. I wish your set had been longer.
4. You'll be getting some iTunes royalties from me and my iPod.
5. I am really looking forward to hearing more.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Rappeling, With Children

You were calling out to me all day today
Down there, all mushy on your bed,
you invited me to join you.
A school holiday, eight or so long hours, with my creations.
I was ready with structure--
square meals, nap, fresh air, and video
--so it's not like I was unprepared.
Yet still
there were moments where they tag-teamed me,
an odd little pair of stalkers:
"Mommy, mommy,"
pecked to death by ducks,
Before I can answer one, the other comes up
If make the taco, it should have been the hard-boiled egg,
I say, "use your strong voice" when I hear
Just how betraying each failure feels,
I say, "I will, as soon as I finish this,"
I say, "I need you to listen to my words"
who knows how many times?
And on a day--like today--when I'm not on top of my game,
When my composure is cracked and certain
adult critical voices can and do intrude,
when they are no longer cute,
when all of that need wants only to gobble me up,
when I have grown shadowy and thin,
and yearn for invisibility.
And there, there, is where I find you.
You, supine and resigned, call to me with your creepy smile,
a part of me, I think they're called mirror neurons?
Rappels down
While the rest of me stays.
I begin to believe that I could or should
be doing all of this perfectly, and am not
Yet I perform the most amazing feat anyway:
I am present, responsive, full of spine.
"Be like an oak tree," a friend says,
I remember this and do my best to seem oaky
whatever that means,
I muster a smile, a nod, a comment
that at least sounds like I'm hanging on every word
knowing that
If I can suspend this lie, over time,
for my two self-absorbed yet ever-watchful nubbins,
you, your memories and worldview
unspoken, unexplored, sporadically spooging their way out
you, who feels so small and incapable
who took all the wrong things for yourself
and gave the remainder too freely
will stay down there
and perhaps die a lonely death
while we go outside to play.