Sunday, June 6, 2010

Music, my love

I wonder if all artists are secretly (or not so secretly) envious of artists working in other art forms. For me, it’s music. As someone who writes and occasionally paints/draws, I am always conscious of music’s greater power; of its innate capacity to transport in a way that all other art forms aspire to but rarely attain.

Like so many people, I feel profoundly deprived in not having a good singing voice. I play the piano, and that’s lovely, but it’s not the same as being able to use your own body as your instrument of expression.

Recently I went to see Jen Cloher and Jordie Lane at my local, the Thornbury Theatre. Since then, Jen Cloher has been rocking my world. (Jordie already had a hand on the cradle.)

I’d heard Cloher on the radio a couple of times before this, but it wasn’t until I saw her live that I was properly switched on to her music. I’d forgotten how good seeing a someone perform live is for finally “getting it”, whatever it is a performer has to give.

In the case of Cloher, it was a revelation. How rare to see that combination of ferociousness and vulnerability.

I am now in that heady stage of infatuation with her latest album, where I just can’t get enough of it. I know that intensity will pass, but right now she’s singing the words that I need to hear.

When I listen to Cloher’s songs I get that absurd sense of disbelief that no one has written them before now; how is it that something so perfect would not have existed, would not have been made tangible if this person hadn’t been there to create it?

This thought always triggers a wild mix of gratitude and melancholy in me. The kind that has me pulling over to the side of the road and just taking in a big deep breath. Because I can. Because I've been given a life.

Ain’t that the wonderful thing about art: that strange sense of cathartic relief that comes with hearing/viewing/reading something that releases you; that reminds you why art is essential to the self.

How can you describe the effect great music has on us? I don't have the words. I just know what I feel: that music shatters you just as it makes you whole.

I killed the bird
With the bird
Killed the song
With the song

Killed myself

(Jen Cloher, "Birdsong")

7 comments:

katiecrackernuts said...

I've been on the Cloher band wagon, get it ... band ..., for a while. Brilliant stuff. Live and on the albums. Brilliant, bone-rattling-ly good stuff.

Frances said...

Rachel: A few posts ago, you asked something like: "Is this what my mother fought for?"

You haven't answered it, but I suspect that the answer lies in Alex Kates Shulman: what mothers won't tell their daughters is that they will fall in love with their children.

What did your mother fight for, Rachel?

genevieve said...

I think you are right, Rachel - I envy painters and those who can make meaningful marks - yet, I sing and scribble a bit.
Go figure.

little red hen said...

Oh yes I envy people who can play music and singing in particular (It's a bit hard to carry a piano about!)Sometimes when I used to work a long way from home I'd be listening to the radio as I drove there or home and suddenly be sobbing all on the strenght of a song that just connected with me. I also envy those who can write I really dont have that gift and I wish I did.

wooldancer said...

yet isn't our personal perception of our own talents/abilities subjective and often the most critical.. i recall your singing voice from our childhood Rachel, singing in the loungeroom together never felt so good. To me, your voice was, and will remain to me, beauty-full.
xoShell

Cartonish said...

I really like music but the problem is that I am not good at it. It is a pity but I can't be composer neither a singer.

Cartonish said...

I remember when I was doing the test to enter to the music club that ironically was sponsored by online pharmacy and I couldn't do it. I was the worst there