Comment of the Moment: Artistic Freedom and Commerce
"Just do what you want to do
Don't listen to anyone else"
(Jack Black w/ sign)
Neil Young Honored As MusiCares Person Of The Year
Over the years, we've blogged extensively on when the worlds of art and commerce collide. Strange things -- indeed -- do happen.
And lately, with Neil Young announcing a solo tour of very small theaters, performing new songs with the absolutely legendary Bert Jansch as the opening act, we hear incessant whining about $80 seats for a 3 hour plus show.
And just suppose that Neil & Bert play a song together? Would that not be priceless?
So. we. just. don't. get. it.
In so many ways, this is nothing new. We saw a lot of this when Neil Young expressed artistic freedom so eloquently on the much maligned and misunderstood -- but beloved -- Greendale.
All of this comes in a roundabout way to the Comment of the Moment by Mr Henry regarding an interview with Sonny Rollins who will be having an 80th Birthday Concert at Boston Symphony Hall this weekend.
There's a wonderful article in Saturday's Boston Globe about the great Sonny Rollins, written in anticipation of Sonny's 80th Birthday Concert at Symphony Hall. Quotes are like pearls of wisdom from a unique and wonderful artist:
'I am a link to the golden age. I used to feel very obligated to represent all of my deparated peers. I thought, I've got to sound good not just for me but for Monk and all the guys that I'm associated with. Eventually that feeling started to fade away. But I'm always in the company of my departed friends. I think about them; I dream about certain cats I was close to. I channel them, if that word is still in vogue now.'
'I don't care about landmarks and foolishness. I am a musician very much into everyday activities. I practice everyday. I compose. I am in the middle of my career in my mind.'
'...that I hope will demonstrate a culmination of my career up to this point.'
'I am a stream-of-consciousness player. That's what I do; that's what I am.'
'Interpretations in my style are so loose and so freewheeling that in essence they can become a new song, even though it's the same song. The experience is completely new the whole time. I couldn't improvise the same way if I wanted to.'
'I never thought anything was as important as understanding what I needed to do as an artist. You can't care about how the public reacts. It's not something you can contemplate and anticipate. I try to get close to my inner self, and I know that will be OK. When I know I'm playing well, I know that everyone else feels that way.'
Well said Mr. Rollins, and much thanks to Siddhartha Mitter for a superb article and interview. I can hardly wait for Sunday night's concert and another Dharma lesson from the master. Parallels with Neil are evident throughout...it's all one song.
Thanks Mr. Henry!
More on the value of artistic freedom, audience entitlement, and elite fan hypocrisy.