You are beautiful, difficult. Rare. Outside, a new year’s snow and a frozen river, the winter smell of never. Inside, a fire so golden it glows a hollow focus in the now and ever after, in my mind I will compose a thousand letters, send none.
Given the dangers of nostalgia, it’s not a question of coming closer if (sister, lover?) my songs hover anxiously over a bare stage, an echo chamber, while only your own words could ever pin you to a page.
Still, you will switch off the lamp near the window, cast us both in shadow, the better to watch me dance, whiskey in a crystal glass in hand, asking what is beautiful about the music we’re hearing?
As if I understand how rhythm and its exhale, rapture, and your cheerful smile and my foolish laughter, in one quick glance over the shoulder of surrender answer nothing further than time. Time! Time.
Bill Evans: “Enjoy the step by step learning procedure.”
Oscar Peterson: “Articulate it like you do in speech” (on how to accomplish ‘the two-fingered percussiveness of Nat Cole’).
Fred Hersch: “You have to say ‘Oh, that was great. Now I’m going to start fresh” (on getting too attached to great concerts you’ve played).
While on tour in Croatia & Slovenia in 2008 for Must Don’t Whip ‘Um, Philippa Thompson was telling me about a friend of hers who always photographs street art wherever she travels, because it’s a good way to know where a city’s head is secretly at. As with many other aspects of my recent trip to India, I found the graffiti in Delhi elegant, yet perplexing. For example, “DISSENT OVERDOSE” – a slogan I saw tagged on an overpass on Sardar Patel Marg on the way from South Delhi to Bijwasan – definitely caught my eye, but what does it mean, and to whom? It’s comforting to know that I’m not the only one asking, and I suppose that’s the point of any good work of art, especially if it’s so emphatically and intentionally in the public eye: If we’re not asking ourselves what it means, we’re probably not even noticing it in the first place.