Friday, February 19, 2010

i'm no different, we love to talk on things we don't know about

music has become a mere complement to our lives. we listen to our ipods while we do everything – walk, workout, study, but rarely while we listen. what used to fill halls and ballrooms is now compressed into a series of ones and zeros and only fills our hard drives. formerly it would compel folks to come from miles around and wait months in anticipation, but it now heels like a faithful but under appreciated dog to our comings and goings, tethered to us by a leash of headphones. last night we had a listening party where we listened to a complete album in silence. we checked our appetite for multitasking and gave music our full and undivided attention. we loosed one of man's best friends and saw where he led us as he filled the greatest of stages – our minds.

in preparation for the event, i wrote a short introduction to the album i selected to present. this is what i wrote:

the album to be presented tonight is one that i would describe as mature, experienced, humble and above all simple. it does not mince words and never professes to know the answer, but the pure things of life – friends, family, and love are expertly painted with familiar bold colors and accepted as truth. not to claim that true love is easy, no, this work heaves with the impediments that keep us from enjoying truth. it sighs with it's human vices, addictions, and selfishness but even in the throws of it's imperfections the ideal of love is never negated or given up.

this album is made by humans who have witnessed, believe in, and know that love is true, even though at times those three words may be hard to say. i present to you the avett brothers – i and love and you.

after writing this little essay and feeling pretty proud of it, i opened the album and found this passage written by seth avett.

The words "I" and "Love" and "you" are the watermark of humanity. Strung together, they convey our deepest sense of humility, of power, of truth. It is our most common sentiment, even as the feeling of it is so infinitely uncommon; each to proclaim these three words with his or her very own heart and mindset of reason (or lack thereof); a proclamation completely and perfectly new each time it is offered. Uttered daily and nightly by millions, the words are said in an unending array of circumstances: whispered to the newborn in a new mother's arms; shared between best friends on the playground; in the form of sympathy - said by a girl to a boy as the respect continues but the relationship does not. It is said too loudly by parents to embarrassed children in the company of their friends, and by grown children - to their fading parents in hospital beds. The words are thought in the company of the photograph and said in the company of the gravestone. It is how we end our phone calls and our letters... the words at the bottom of the page that trump all those above it, a way to gracefully finish a message, however important or trivial, with the most meaningful gift of all: the communication of love. And yet the words themselves have been the victims of triviality, a ready replacement for lesser salutations among near strangers, burst forth casually as "love ya." Truly? To what degree? Why, how much, and for how long? These are questions befitting the stature of love, though not the everyday banter of vague acquaintance. The words have also been twisted by the dark nature of deceit; to say "I love you" with a dramatic measure of synthetic emotion; a snare set by those who prey upon humanity, driven to whatever selfish end, to gain access to another's body, or their money, or their opportunity. In this realm, the proclamation is disgraced by one seeking to gain rather than to give. In any case, and by whatever inspiration, these words are woven deeply into the fibers of our existence. Our longing to hear them from the right place is maddeningly and simultaneously our finest strength and our most gentle weakness. The album "I and Love and You" is unashamedly defined by such a dynamic of duality. As living people, we are bound by this unavoidable parallel. We are powerful yet weak, capable yet temporary. Inevitably, an attempt to place honesty within an artistic avenue will follow suit. This is a piece which shows us as we are: products of love surrounded by struggle. The music herein is, in many ways, readable as both a milestone and an arrival. A chapter in the story of young men, it bridges the space between the uncertainty of youth and the reality of its release. The record is full with the quality of question and response. As far as questions go, there are plenty - normally residing within the tone and delivery of the lyrics themselves, which, ironically, are sung with so much confidence. Among songs so driven and purposeful, the most basic and relatable doubt comes through with a resounding clarity. Outside of the eternal theme of romantic love, the album speaks thankfully upon a landscape of light-filled rooms, word-filled pages, time machines, forgiveness, singing birds, ocean waves, art, change, confessions of shortcomings, and reasons to continue on. Hope and a cause for smiling follow naturally. In the midst of all this, there are allusions to the less-than-ideal conditions of life: the loss of memory, the inability to control temper, insecurity, indecision, jaded indifference, and the general plague of former and current weakness. "I and Love and You" is al album of obvious human creation, characterized by its best and its worst. Emotional imperfection is a reality for those who recorded this piece, just as it is for this who will hear it. The conclusion of the song from which the title is taken admits that the words "I love you" have become "hard to say." And perhaps that difficulty is as common as its counterpart. Perhaps the inability to say these heaviest of words is as much a part of life as the lighthearted candor of those who say them without any difficulty at all. And so it ends with the phrase whispered to any and by those of us most defeated and elated... I and love and you...

my meager words had been trumped, but i felt no envy, only veneration for the people who had experienced more and compressed their years of joy and tears into a work that takes just a little less than an hour to experience. truly we love to talk on things we don't know about, but if anyone has a credible opinion on the matter of i and love and you its the avett brothers. thank you, scott and seth, for reminding me what those three words mean.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

basic space, open air

don't look away when there's nothing there

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Friday, February 12, 2010

i feel don quixote calling me.

last night i had a dream about a hispanic man who was visiting our family. initially i thought he was cuban, but he was vague about his past. i tried to show off my knowledge of cuban culture and language by making a comment of fuzzy details. after i made my contribution to the conversation he was silent for a moment and then told me, "that was a foolish thing to say." i turned to my two siblings seated beside me who agreed with the energetic hispanic man. ‬i felt dejected.

suddenly he grew silent and looked over our heads towards the field. i could tell he sensed someone lurking in the woods. he began to move toward the house where his horse was tied up. as he moved i looked toward where his gaze was fixed and saw six to eight men with bows and bright pink quivers of arrows emerge out of the trees. "and the rest of the family?" one of the armed men said in a taunting tone to our spanish visitor, as if to ask if he had left his loved ones at home. i looked towards where the voice was directed and saw that our friend had already mounted his horse. “at home!” he defiantly replied, “but i will see them soon!” “vamanos!” he cheered to his horse who leapt in response.

the archers opened fire sending slender, bright pink arrows whizzing toward him. the man expertly piloted his horse while ducking and weaving through the barrage of pink streaks. as he pursued his escape down the driveway, a particularly well-placed shot caused him to slide sideways in his saddle until his body was parallel to the ground in order to avoid the arrow. i was so frightened for him as i looked on. i felt the need to distract the men firing at him, but the potential risk to my own family restrained me from calling any attention to myself or my loved ones.

our man continued down the driveway, but quickly doubled back and charged at the six or so archers speeding right between them. as they pivoted to track their target one archer released his arrow into the back of his cohort. the villains stood stunned by his bold move until the hero reached a safe distance on the horizon. with the low, deep yellow sun as his backdrop, he pivoted his horse and cried to his would-be murderers, “once again, haha! vamanos!” after which he comfortably faced west towards the sun and finished his escape disappearing below the horizon.

with the dangerous men now with no other target than us, my family and i quickly sprinted for the door of our home. they did not pursue us, but as i went for the lock on the door, i found that the door was backwards and sealing it was impossible. i would have panicked, but i knew that the baffled ruffians’ only interest had vanished. i marveled at our new friend turned to legend.

my alarm sounds and i wake up.