Monday, October 12, 2009

Literate Rock

Rock and roll can be a strange beast. A lot of the music will set your toes tapping, involve you in a peripheral way. Some will take you over so physically that you can't help but move your body, to make you dance. And there is a small segment that urges you to listen, to hear the words as well as the music, to sense the combination that makes it more than tune and lyrics.
I was at a concert the other night celebrating the release of a new recording by Tiny Bill Cody and the Liquormen. One of the reasons I have always liked Tiny Bill's music is because he is a writer as well as a musician, an artist expressing himself in several disciplines. The performance and the new disc carry on with his established reputation.
I like what he does to me, moves me physically and mentally. I can't turn off either mode of perception. For me, most classical music doesn't need the body; much of modern music doesn't engage the mind. Granted, there are singer/songwriter/poets that engage all the modalities; Cohen and Dylan stand out for me. A good blues number will engage my soul and leave mind and body behind. But a driving beat and the crash and flash of new images in the language carry for me a special magic. And much of it depends on the words, the poetry, the way the Taupin/John combination did for me years ago.

Yes, you can set literature to music. The music need not be etherial, contemplative, nor primally rhythmic. The nature of art is that it adapts to what it needs and the result is more and greater art.

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