I believe his merit- lasting value- is his contribution to the great pathos and intensely challenging picture of the beautiful loser- a way of life that finds beauty and grace in surprising and strange places.
As for his music, I just want to say a lot of people cover Hallelujah like a painter who looks at a Van Gogh and thinks he can improve it by painting the same subject in the style of Vermeer.
I started reading ‘the soul of veere,’ a Belgian short story by lemonnier that starts something like this: a girl asked me if I heard the boy playing his little tunes, and I thought, good heavens, who would be so foolish to do that here?
Well, I say sing your tunes or whatever racket you want to make as loudly and lively as possible tonight, wherever you are!
The day before Canada day I’d like to share an experience I had at the market in Ottawa. I was having a lovely time drinking a cafe au lait and people watching, and I could hear and see a man in the background on the street singing his heart out. He had a very expressive face and a big generous presence, working the passing crowd like an all time great busker. The dynamic assemblage of the whole place was like watching a kite or a hot air balloon.
Then the balloon burst when a bylaw officer’s truck parks on the sidewalk and the bylaw officer has a discussion with the busker, leading to the busker packing up and leaving.
Now that’s what’s wrong with Canada’s litigious modern society– not that we have too many rules and regulations or that government is too much in our business (though I’m inclined to think so), but rather that people in positions of authority either don’t have or don’t use enough discretion. It was clear to me that this busker was an integral part of the charm of that setting, so please just let him play next time on Canada day and let people buy beer from local shops and let kids play pond hockey and let people express themselves and let judges use some discretion to avoid frivolous, stifling lawsuits.
I love Canada and I try to enjoy all the gifts this northland offers while also living up to the responsibility of having so much. I just think it would be even better if we trusted each other more and then offer more to the rest of the world.
When you’re in the zone in sports or music or whatever, it’s the least selfish you’re going to be– you irresistibly stop thinking about yourself at all. You stop thinking about strategy or time and get in the groove of something bigger; this bliss can’t last on earth, but the more you can open up to people, because you’re thinking about what’s best for them or about the art or the craft more than your own fears and status, the closer you come to that zone we long for even though we’re often misdirected.
To listen to bluegrass is to be dragged by a bucking stallion through lilies in a muddy valley- pure, stately moving melodies singing heart wrenching words over breakneck chopping rhythms.