Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Music and Stuff

Every now and then I get completely obsessed with a song; listen to it, play it, study it, sometimes to the point until whatever relationship we had is smothered by my attention. For example, I can't really get excited about Bob Dylan's Tangled Up in Blue or Jeff Buckley's Hallelujah anymore. I've simply worn those songs out; I've studied their lyrics and listened to them in a dark and otherwise deathly quiet room, my ears to the speakers. I've spent hours on the Internet looking for the stories about how the songs were written. And then, like a crush, one morning I woke up and was over them.

The new song is Gillian Welch's Red Clay Halo. The funny thing is, I don't own a copy of it; I just heard Willie and Jen perform it one night in their living room and fell in love with it then and there. The song is brilliant on a few levels – first because of its unpretentious melody and chord structure, but also because of the lyrics' subtle shift from base human to divine. Just. Fucking. Brilliant.

So anyway, this coming Wednesday the coffeeshop downtown is having a bluegrass jam. I'm planning on going and maybe – maybe – doing Red Clay Halo. I haven't been playing guitar for a few months and my calluses are once again almost completely gone, so I'm planning on just playing through the pain.

Hmm. Weird thoughts tonight about music. I've always wished I could've studied music more formally; I think I could've made a decent professional musician. I'm way over the whole rockstar thing (one night a few years ago, I had a dreamy thought so pure and obvious and profound it literally woke me up: I wanted to be a rockstar because I thought external validation would solve my fundamental insecurities, which of course is total horseshit. So I woke up at like three in the morning and realized, Jesus, being a rockstar would totally suck. The money would be nice; the fame part would just plain suck). But I still could've been a professional musician on some level and in fact, I still want to be in a local band – again, not because of the fame, but for the thrill of playing music with other people. The problem here is twofold: first, while I have a decent ear for music, I can't really read it too well. Second, my voice isn't all that great. Sure, I can do the raspy folkie sound with the best of 'em, but Jesus, who can't? It's unoriginal and besides, most folkies these days (Mason Jennings is a notable exception) have no fucking clue about timbre, and my timbre is thin, nasally, and generally unimpressive. But I digress.

So, anyway, I've always wanted to study music more formally. Maybe some day I will. I'd really like to be able to write out guitar solos, since one of my biggest frustrations about my playing is that I can't always play the sounds I can hear in my head. I'd also like to write out some vocal harmonies for bluegrass/folk songs – I think generally they rely on thirds, but I could be wrong about that.

Whew. Anyway. Tonight I'm going to restring both guitars and practice up.


Blogger Rosellen said...

Surely there's a school of music there; would you have a semester next year to take a music for non-music majors class? If that doesn't exist, how about a music theory class? I think that Music Theory 101 (or whatever they call it there) would be fascinating for you.

5:20 AM  

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