Magnanimous musical moments 2: “Holy shitballs, mom!”

Hello 2014!

It’s a new dawn, it’s a new day, it’s a new life for me, and I’m feeling …. good!

Following the loveliness of Billy Joel’s magnanimous moment in 2013, let’s head to number two, which fulfils all the criteria – which, if you’ve forgotten, are:

  1. the fan, who couldn’t be happier – either that night, for a week, a month or maybe the rest of his or her life;
  2. the audience, who, through the fan, enjoy the experience vicariously while still enjoying the performer, and so take an extra-special memory home with them;
  3. the performer, who, through his or her action, has consciously or subconsciously given the most wonderful gift, the willing ‘transfer of the baton’ not just of their own music – the highest honour – but acknowledging that everyone starts somewhere. And sometimes you’ve just gotta give someone a chance.

And who are we talking about?  A round of applause please for Mr Michael Bublé:

He’s like an excited puppy – Bublé, that is, not 15-year-old Sam!

Magnanimous musical moments 1: Billy Joel

When it comes to enjoying music, there’s nothing like being in the audience watching one of your favourite artists perform live. Some of the most viscerally and physiologically pleasurable moments of my life have been in the company of sound, emotion and atmosphere circulating about my body via the acoustics, sublime or otherwise, of live venues.

There have been a few times where I’ve wanted to do something to break through that invisible barrier of the performer and the audience, but for a variety of reasons never felt compelled enough.  But there are those fans – those huge fans – who have an extra dose of chutzpah, talent and perhaps a fantasy. And sometimes, when luck is on their side, that fantasy becomes a reality.

Billy-Joel-Michael-Pollack1Over the last few years, I’ve seen some wonderful clips where this has been captured; an audience member has broken through that barrier, and, as a result, something special happens. At that moment, not only does the audience member step into the world of his or her idol for the experience of a lifetime, but the performer takes a leap of faith too – a huge gamble on the outcome.

After all, what happens if the fan is – well, a dud? And it all goes pear-shaped. And awkward? I haven’t seen those videos. But boy, have I seen the opposite.

I’ve been storing up a few of these to share as a series on HH, because they make me feel so good. I call them magnanimous musical moments, because as a result of the performer’s magnanimity, three groups are changed:

  1. the fan, who couldn’t be happier – either that night, for a week, a month or maybe the rest of his or her life;
  2. the audience, who, through the fan, enjoy the experience vicariously while still enjoying the performer, and so take an extra-special memory home with them;
  3. the performer, who, through his or her action, has consciously or subconsciously given the most wonderful gift, the willing ‘transfer of the baton’ not just of their own music – the highest honour – but acknowledging that everyone starts somewhere. And sometimes you’ve just gotta give someone a chance.

So where to start? I’m going to start with my most recent discovery, because it’s perfect. Watch Billy Joel a) make the split-second decision b) realise he’s made a good decision and c) enjoy it. Enjoy!

ps – if you have any doubts about points 1. and 2. above, check out this ‘accompanying’ video which is the perspective of Michael’s friends in the audience.

.

I rest my case. And if you haven’t smiled at least once in the last 10 minutes, you’re a hard person, my friend.

[Pic courtesy The Tenneseean]

RIP John Gill – a man who left a great signature on the sheet music of life

I was saddened to discover yesterday, accidentally, that local  busker-around-Perth and ragtime piano virtuoso John Gill had died in April. I obviously missed the news, because there was significant coverage at the time, and deservedly so.

John was one of those people who had been on the scene in Perth for so long that he was no longer a novelty when you saw him in Murray Street or Fremantle, or any shopping centre, but rather a comforting, familiar and friendly reminder of the warmth that comes when a stranger shares his or her talent with other strangers. It didn’t matter where I saw him, I always stopped for a minute and marvelled at his dexterity.

I remember years ago taking the time to read the loosely framed note he had attached to the side of his piano, the details of which I don’t recall exactly, other than they let the reader know that he was a world-renowned ragtime player, and he was raising money for yet another trip to the Scott Joplin Ragtime Festival, or some other get together of like-minded musicians.

More recently, the boys and I watched him perform a couple of times in the city and also, memorably, at the Royal Show in 2009 (we just missed his performance in 2010, much to our disappointment).  When he finished his set, based at the exit of the Agricultural Pavillion, the boys went up to him with our donation and Blondie asked him how long he’d been playing. With a smile John told him he’d started when he was 7, which Blondie told him was how old he was when he’d started. John encouraged him to keep practising. I remember saying to Blondie afterwards, “see, keep up the practice and you could play like that one day.” Blondie was inspired.

While I was looking for further coverage of the news of John’s death, I found this lovely piece from Lee-Ann Khoh who had written a piece about busking including John, just before he died, and she has two great video links on her post which will bring it all back if you would like a reminder of his talent.

I’d like to think that in some small, ongoing way through my donations, I helped John, along with thousands of others, to pursue his passion and no doubt inspire many others to keep at it, while bringing such simple joy to those passers-by who took a moment to enjoy the sound, that glorious sound.

And now I reckon he and Scott Joplin are banging out some fantastic duets somewhere. Oh, to be able to hear them.

Haiku for international relations (thanks Edwin)

War! What is it good
for? Absolutely nothing!
Say it again! War!

Huh! Yeah, yeah, what is
it good for? Absolutely
Nothing. Hear me now!

What are your inheritance tracks?

I discovered a lovely radio idea recently while, as often happens these days, pinging from one web page to the other on t’interweb. I was reading about the near-miraculous percussionist Evelyn Glennie, and found she’d been invited to contribute her ‘inheritance tracks’ on BBC Radio 4.

If you’re not familiar with what the inheritance tracks are, as I wasn’t, the BBC Saturday Show says describes them as:

the magical feature where we ask our guests to think of the song that they inherited from their parents and also the one that they would pass on to the next generation.

Well, if ever there was a statement that a rabid music sponge was meant to contemplate, that is it.  And I have, so here are my inheritance tracks.

From my parents: The Beatles Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Heart’s Club Band.

For the next generation: Gioacchino Rossini Thieving Magpie. And, because I really couldn’t choose, Jimmy Buffet One Particular Harbour (live verson on ‘Feeding Frenzy’). Both of these provide the nearest thing to spiritual experiences for me.

What are yours?

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