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
(Jen Cloher, "Birdsong")