Judging from the evidence of YouTube, “Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring” (probably my favorite passage of music) is much harder to play than you would think. The ease and grace of those triplets requires real skill.
For complicated reasons, I’m using YouTube as a stereo while I pack. Thus the various videos I’ve embedded. Which reminds me, the live Clapton/Winwood concert videos from a couple of years ago are just astonishing. Winwood may not be writing great music now, but he sure as hell can still play both guitar and organ. Clapton has widened his range. Yes, he can still play blues like a man who sold his soul to Robert Johnson. But he can also do a mellow, tender "Over the Rainbow." Really.
Still on hold.
For me there’s great joy watching these men in their sixties playing with such passion, skill, and pleasure. Not because I assume age would degrade their skills; rather the opposite. But because I can remember them when they were boys: Clapton was 19 when he started playing with the Yardbirds, Winwood a mere 14 when he joined the Spencer Davis Group.
Here's the teenage Steve Winwood playing Gimme Some Loving.
The thing is, they survived. Clapton went through heroin addiction, getting clean, the death of his son. Not all their friends managed to survive the pressures of fame, money, drugs, art. We lost a lot of the great musicians of the 60s. But here they are, and they’re good. They have the relaxed mastery that comes from a lifetime of doing the work. Playing, yes, but also confronting demons. That's how they can summon those demons for the great blues numbers; they're on familiar terms with the pain, they've been there, fought them over and over and will fight again tomorrow.
Playing Tough Luck Blues, which I have decided is the theme song for 2009. Turning genuinely miserable circumstances into art with the help of friends and music and hard-earned skill.
Still on hold.
Someone asked me about the lyrics on Saturday’s poll. (Sure they could have Googled them, but they wanted to know about several.) Here they all are.
But nobody gets a lifetime rehearsal, as specks of dust we're universal
Indigo Girls, Love’s Recovery
Childhood is the kingdom where nobody dies.
Edna St. Vincent Millay, Childhood Is The Kingdom Where Nobody Dies (this is the only quote not part of a song)
Only the good die young.
Billy Joel, Only the Good Die Young
Things have been OK for me, except that I'm a zombie now.
Jonathan Coulton, Re: Your Brains
And he told me all romantics meet the same fate someday / Cynical and drunk and boring someone in some dark café
Joni Mitchell, The Last Time I Saw Richard
The child has grown, the dream is gone.
Pink Floyd, Comfortably Numb
I learned the truth at 17.
Janis Ian, At 17
It ain't no sin to be glad you're alive.
Bruce Springsteen, Badlands
Days go by, I'm hypnotized, I'm walking on a wire.
Shawn Colvin, Sunny Came Home
When there's no one left to leave you, even you don't quite believe you, that's when nothing can deceive you.
Steve Winwood, While You See a Chance
Lately I've been running on faith / What else can a poor boy do?
Eric Clapton, Running on Faith
I see no need to take me home, I'm old enough to face the dawn.
Merrilee Rush or Juice Newton, Angel of the Morning
One thing for certain, when it comes my time I'll leave this old world with a satisfied mind.
Bob Dylan, Satisfied Mind
There's a party in my mind...And it never stops
Talking Heads, Memories Can't Wait
Don't accept that what's happening Is just a case of others' suffering
Pink Floyd, On the Turning Away
I just got dropped from my AT&T call.
(In the interests of honesty, I worked on this entry in several sessions. I was probably on hold for no more than 20 minutes all told. However, I still haven't managed to get through to cancel my service. And the movers will be here in 24 hours.)
ETA On hold again.
ETA On hold for 15 minutes, and now I am free! Free!