Monday, October 22, 2007

bob dylan: iconoclast h. christ

so i went to pearly gates and found the bolts rusted. seeing bob dylan is an experience, sure, but i am not sure what was learned. let me put this into context.
a friend of angela and myself gave us two tickets to see elvis costello and bob dylan at the fox theater in st. louis on monday night. fucking rad! i wanted to see this show but the tickets were a little pricey and the show sold out very quickly. but, the cosmos looked out and gave us admission. great. so we arrive at the theater, which is breathtakingly gorgeous, about ten minutes before the show starts which allowed for a cigarette and a little people watching. i was curious who would be there and if you could see a split in the fan base. not that costello and dylan have vast differences in fan population, but i was looking out for the mods there for elvis, and the poli-lits there for dylan. it was strange, the crowd was overwhelmingly normal looking. like christmas shoppers, or people at an airport. kids, parents, grandparents. all there for the same thing. granted it was a pretty caucasian audience, but this is middle america right? what can i expect.

we find our seats, with help from a geriatric usher who looks as if they could have built this fucking theater, and squeeze in to our seats. amos lee was on stage and i as happy to see he was opening because i had never heard him before but had heard good things. his group was phenomenal. folk, blues, soul, country, it was all there being lead by this jeff buckley meets curtis mayfield in a fistfight with joe cocker. it was perfect. he played for about 45 minutes and i was very impressed. very. then the stage was cleared and out comes a rack of five acoustic guitars and a small practice amp. seriously the amp was maybe 100 watts. i turn to angela and ask where the piano is. no piano. expecting elvis costello, solo, to be mostly balladeerish renditions of his pop catalogue, and possibly some of his jazz songs he recorded a few years back, actually he topped the jazz charts, the pop charts and the indie charts at the same time that year, a feat not achieved since miles davis. but here it was, just guitars. okay. then the man walked out. classic black suit, and the signature buddy hollies. it was on. he was placing solo, on an acoustic, but i swear he had an invisible british soul band behind him and he was wailing a gretsch. pure rock and roll energy. you could tell he truly loved being there that night. he loves music, the crowd loves music, he loves the crowd. it was a good performance, full of bows and jokes and political commentary. people seem to forget or overlook just how much politics is masked within his music. it seems like snotty pop rock but the lyrics are angry and desperate. he reminded me of that fact. then with a gracious bow and wave, he was gone.
then comes dylan. full band, three guitars, bass, drums, keyboards, and more leather than a gay bar in 77. the first song rocks into a slightly recognizable riff, but it is a little off. the sound is bad and the musicians aren't tight. who cares though, it's dylan. then he begins to sing...well, let me rephrase, he speaks the lyrics over the music. the problem was, you couldn't understand a thing he said. the reason i love dylan is the lyrics, and they are gone, fallen into the mash of bad country music. so if the lyrics are gone, and the music is bad, why are people cheering?

it is simple. dylan is an icon, says the man next to me. well, sure, but an icon of music, and this is horrible. it just seems like he doesn't care. if not, then why do it. he doesn't need the money. is he trying to kill his image. possibly, but these people won't let it die. they clap like fucking seals for fish after every song. he is either laughing to himself or crying. i can't decide.

will work to avoid working

push play on this video and listen while you read this post

ding dong the wac is dead. yes, after exactly one year of being in the "warehouse" i am now moved out. in fact, all of us are moved out. thursday night, we received notice that we had 24 hours to vacate the premises, everything that remained would be thrown into dumpsters. this was at 9 pm and quite unexpected, being that i had not been to the warehouse in a few weeks. it was just dumb luck that i was there that night, working on a show smithey and i are collaborating on this week.
apparently, the lease holder of the warehouse had notice for months to be out of the space, and being the case, decided to no longer pay rent, nor inform the artists whose belongings took up about 3000 sq ft, and still he remained, his belongings untouched. either defiant or apathetic, he takes the cake in the realm of poor business ethics.

we, the wac artists, came together though, in a rough and tumble night, not so different from any other night at the wac when an event is at hand, and pulled together to "save the good silverware" if you will. it was nice to be in the warehouse with a majority of the artists at one time again. we had moments of nostalgia, fueled by the adrenaline of the imposing hand of doom that periodically spanked our melancholic asses into gear. we shared a lot in that space, as artists, as friends, as people. i found it quite apropos that we started with a fury and ended in similar fashion. maybe this is what artists really need today, a sense of urgency.

we need to feel that pressing force around us, telling us it cannot work, and we need vindication. we are a group of odd kids, most whose childhood was not so full of innocent endeavors, and this art world is a world that heralds the innocence of color. the joy that centers itself around the playful tendencies of creation. we bask in that glow and we are suddenly okay. we seem to forget that, i think. at least i do. i forget when i am puzzling over brush size and metaphor that i am simply fucking painting. i am doing what third graders do every day between recess and show and tell. i am allowed to play here. that is why i don't clock in. that is why i no longer carry a resume around with me. it is because i can play. and i am damn good at playing when i want to be. it is not always this way though.

most days i sit in my studio, chain smoke marlboro 27's, listen to curtis mayfield or the refused, and ask myself if anyone gives a shit, or if they should. my only consolation is that i give a shit, and my family gives a shit, and my daughter says it is "bootifull daddy" and if that is the case then there must be others out there who feel that too. right? if it is sincere, then people will connect. in fact, i would wager that the only time people can truly connect is when they find the sincerity. it is tough to be sincere when you feel that your voice is a forgery, but you have to know sometimes it doesn't feel that way, and that is what i do this for. because sometimes, i am dancing in that studio and i am singing out loud, and sometimes it just feels right.