a blessed unrest

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“There is a vitality, a life force, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one of you in all time, this expression is unique.  And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and be lost.  The world will not have it.  It is not your business to determine how good it is, nor how valuable it is, nor how it compares with other expressions.  It is your business to keep it yours clearly and directly, to keep the channel open.  You do not even have to believe in yourself or your work.  You have to keep open and aware directly to the urges that motivate YOU.  Keep the channel open.  No artist is pleased.  There is no satisfaction whatever at any time.  There is only a queer, divine dissatisfaction; a blessed unrest that keeps us marching and makes us more alive than the others.”

-Martha Graham to Agnes de Mille

Thanks to my amazing musical friend Kyleen for making me aware of this quote.

Neil Finn

funny, music No Comments »

Neil Finn is a genius.  If you weren’t already aware of that, go seek out his albums from his time as the leader of Crowded House, as well as his two solo albums.  I can’t recommend them highly enough.

He’s also a consummate performer (his concert in 2001 was one of the best and most memorable I’ve ever seen to this day) and a very genuine person as well.  In fact, the word ‘truth’ appears in more of his songs than any other word I can think of.  Important words, I mean, not like ‘the’ or something.  You know what I’m saying.  Anyway, here’s an interview I came across that really captures his spirit well, I think.  It’s from a dopey Australian comedy show, and the host plays him a dopey song that he’s been working on, and he asks for Neil’s opinion and some advice on how to improve it.  The ‘money shots’, at least for my money, are of the slightly uncomfortable look on Neil’s face as he’s listening and trying to figure out what in the world to say.  But the bits about ‘being in the moment’ are just so dead-on and earnest.  It just shows how real, how funny, and how intelligent (not to mention talented) Neil is, even in a ludicrous setting like this.  He appears about two minutes into this clip, so you can feel free to snooze through the rest of it until then.

In a more serious mini-documentary/interview called “A Good Tune Is Always In Short Supply,” he goes into great detail about his process of songwriting, and even lets us in on his secret formula.  I’ll post Part One here, and if you’re interested, Part Two is easy enough to come by.

Jon Brion interview

music, recording 1 Comment »

I just came across an interview in the L.A. Weekly with Jon Brion, who is the biggest influence (aside from the Beatles) on my musical life and career.  He’s the one from whom I learned what it means to be a producer and collaborator, and how to try and make your way in a creative life.

I’m posting the link to the article here because I want to be able to revisit it every so often, in the dark times, to renew my inspiration.  If you’re interested in music, and movies, and twentieth-century pop culture, I think you’ll appreciate this article.



Yann Tiersen, part two

blogging, music, Oregon, pictures, Portland No Comments »

Yann TIersen’s concert in Portland was fantastic, as I knew it would be, but I have to admit that there were a few surprises.  The first and most obvious was that he didn’t even bring an accordion.  The second was that it was an all-electric show, with the exception of the violin and melodica.  And the ukelele, which KeyboardGirl and BassPlayer each played once or twice.   There was a Moog synthesizer too, which was used by Yann and KeyboardGirl to interesting effect.  It was awesome to see Yann and the band in this electrified way, but I would imagine that fans who are only familiar with the Amelie soundtrack and his earlier work may have been disappointed with this show.

The crowd seemed to be most appreciative when something outside the realm of NormalRockBandLineup happened, such as when Yann played his violin.  He launched into Sur Le Fil, a solo violin piece, to thunderous cheers and applause.  I think after the long jams, we were all excited to hear something recognizable, and something we associate with the best of Yann’s musical abilities.  As a multi-instrumentalist myself, however, I certainly know all too well about the hassle of carrying around a truckload of weird, fragile, unruly (not to mention large) instruments in a car and a plane and a van and a trailer.  I can only imagine what it’s like to do that for months on end.  But accordions and mandolins are relatively small.  Jeez, Yann, you could have at least brought one of those, or maybe you can find a backup guitarist who also plays something else besides guitar?  I hereby volunteer my services to you.

I certainly wasn’t bored or disappointed with the show in any way, but I would have loved to hear at least a little bit of accordion, or piano, or something.  What I love most about Yann is that he’s a composer and not ‘just’ a rock band.  Or maybe it’s that he can be a rock band if he wants, but he’s so much more than that.  This was a very good rock band, but it was still a rock band.  I would have gladly shelled out much more money to see him at PCPA with a more eclectic instrumental lineup.

The things that did disappoint me about the show had nothing to do with Yann or his band.  First of all, there were signs everywhere at the venue saying “NO PHOTOGRAPHY” and everyone was told at the door, “No cameras, and no camera phones. ” This policy was strictly enforced, too, because I saw the staff guys wearing fanny packs that were stuffed with contraband cameras, and I heard him say to someone, “You can’t use your camera.  It’ll be confiscated.”  Well, crap, I thought, and dutifully left my camera in the pocket of my hoodie for the entire show.  Therefore, I have no photographic proof that I was there, which is a shame too, because I was standing in a really good spot.  Le sigh.

I had two friends come to the show, one of whom I had given my extra ticket to, but both arrived later and were unable to find me, so that was disappointing.  The good thing, I guess, is that I was able to pay more attention to the performances, but it would have definitely been nicer to have company.

The tour T-shirts wouldn’t have looked good on me, and I already own all the CD’s, so I came home empty-handed and a bit heavy-hearted to have missed out on my friends, but I was supremely glad to have seen the perfomance of a true musical genius who I never imagined I’d have the chance to hear in person, especially not without a great deal of traveling.  The Wonder Ballroom is about ten minutes’ drive from my place.  And I’ve had the opportunity to play there, too, so I know what the backstage area and everything is like.  I imagined Yann sitting on a sofa in one of the green rooms in the basement, warming up on his violin.

Here’s a picture from the previous night’s show in Seattle, which another of my friends took with her camera phone.  Apparently they didn’t have the same anti-photography regime in place, or if they did, she was able to circumvent it long enough to snap this one shot.  Anyway, here it is.


Incidentally, Yann’s the one with the longish hair, just to the right of center.

It was a really great show, overall, and I’d recommend that you take any chance you can get to see Yann.

Yann Tiersen, part one

music No Comments »

I’ll be seeing Yann Tiersen in concert tonight.  In fact, as soon as I finish posting this, I’m driving over to the venue.  Yes, I’m planning to take pictures, and maybe a video or two.

I’m super excited about this.  Asobi Seksu is the opening act.