My country road by morning...
Sometimes I feel as if I’m in sepia tone, like an old photo from another century. Some things remain fresh, however. I got home yesterday from a round of errands… nothing big, just time consuming. I went into the house and my guitar called to me from its case. I opened said case and withdrew my Martin M-30 where it made its way to my right thigh where it feels most at home. I felt that same commanding place in the universe that I did when I was fifteen. I would open the cardboard guitar case (simulated alligator exterior) and take out my Gibson J-45 and head for the tile bathroom to play and sing. In those days, the bathroom was the best place in the house to play. No one would bother you, and the natural echo properties of the room were outstanding.
Well, no need to head for the bathroom… the tile and wood of the middle room of our 1830’s farmhouse sounds pretty darned good to me. Anyway, what a great place to be at this point in my life. I’m gathering tunes for a new Jorma project so I spent some time writing a new song. Then with a tour coming up I spent another hour or so just playing and singing songs… doing what I have to do to get back in the performance groove. Some of these tunes have been mine for over fifty years, but they cannot be taken for granted. I try to play them lovingly with the same energy that was mine when I learned them so long ago.
Things change over time, without fail. My playing style is still mine and as such, totally recognizable… but it has mutated, changed for the better I would like to think. Well, maybe I’ll just let it go as changed since when I hear old recordings of myself, I always think, ‘I wasn’t too bad.’
Think how lucky I was to come of age as an artist in the Sixties when the art of the time was inextricably entwined with the evolving culture. The music, the graphic art, spoken work and literature was a touchstone for the times. I realize that it is a cheap shot to compare the musical scene of the Sixties and Seventies with today. What I perceive of today is such a soft target. The artists that become visible and pass for today’s mainstream are far more proficient as musicians… players and singers, whatever… than we ever were and yet to what end? To me, the music was a means to convey a story. Now, not every story has to be War And Peace… sometimes it’s just Goldilocks And The Three Bears, but a good story is always a good story. On those rare occasions when I listen to mainstream ‘popular’ musicians, I find very few stories worth listening to and I’d like to think that it is not just because I’m an old coot.
On the other hand, it is a big world out there what with all this internet stuff, and without regard to how much the internet can dissipate our powers of concentration there is indeed a world of multidimensional artists singing songs that matter in any given context. Wow… is that good news or what?
OK, I’ve ascertained that the future is safe at least for music. It’s a deep mine out there and lots of us miners. The fact that at my age I still love the guitar, the music, the poetry and performing for people sometimes amazes even me, but there it is. My gratitude is boundless for being able to feel all these things.
I will be leaving for the Coast soon and will be playing for folks across this country for a couple of weeks or so. I will be accompanied by friends… Jack Casady and Barry MItterhoff… and one of my oldest friends of all… the flat top guitar.
How good does it have to get?
PS I got a comment from Susan on my Merry Xmas On Day Late entry that I felt warranted comment. Nuff said…