This Reminds Me of That Time at The Clark Art Institute

on the Elton John Piano…

….so nicknamed because it was very, very ornate, though it was more like a Louis XIV piano in retrospect. Except it probably wouldn’t have been a piano per se had it been in the court of Louis XIV;  good thing I know nothing about music history, not like I have a PhD. 

The point is that I “played” a Mozart sonata, theoretically in F but not so in my version, on this piano in perhaps 1998, and my parents were there, including my dad who I most wanted to impress with my newfound finger wiggling skills because he is very, very good at the piano and I wanted to be very, very good at it too. I practiced a lot, and I came out of that gate HOT but then some awful things happened and I couldn’t remember where I was, or what day it was, or what my name was, and maybe this is connected to going to the health center at Fancy College asking if I had asthma because of the gulping when maybe, she asked, I had some kind of anxiety thing going? NO WAY, until future diagnoses were like “hold my beer.” Ok that was an outburst, which is also a line in a song in a video that I will link you to ex post haste:

Ok I hit “paste” but it was actually a link to a teaser about the new Deafheaven album which I am excited about, George Clark SINGING and all versus demonically rasping, adverbs are the worst, but that is not the point. THIS is the point:

That was last Thursday, a show! In body, with other people who drank beer and cider and seemed happy to be there despite the fact that, yet again, my fingers shook and seemed to turn into trees or bricks, and the keyboard got all psychedelic and stopped making sense as a linear entity, it instead some kind of glowing mischievous orb but in a tactile sense. Which had the unintended but wholly predictable consequence of taking me away from my singing focus, which I have been working at diligently for the past over-a-year, and so this is as they say Warts And All. 

But the first song here is about a recent pandemic, and I thought it would be nice to offer that, or hell the whole entire set if you have some time, because it brings something up that I think is quasi interesting. (There is also a Q and A at the end during which I pontificate and make sweeping claims.) The interesting thing is that I have often thought about music as a kind of weird little drama organism; I have advised people like my students not to focus on whether this-or-that lyric translates into this-or-that real-life thing in an oblique way and if we understand that we get The Meaning. But this song has SO MUCH of that, and maybe it is not really a weird little drama organism at all but rather a way to make really lousy circumstances through the prismatic filter of the quotidian seem like the trials of a mythological soothsaying warrior bard or something or other. And as my dear pal Brady says, the song also has all the notes, so if you wanted to catalog them, there they are. 

Darwin Grosse took this picture, too:

I am not entirely sure how pictures work on substack, like maybe that is so big that it will eat your computer? Sorry if so. If you can’t see it, it’s me in the midst of saying “this is what it all means” or some such thing. (Not only did Darwin take that picture, but he was immeasurably helpful during setup in not letting me play as loud as I was going to play, which was definitely the right call, AND he showed up with sushi AND a seaweed salad. Credit where due.) 

That is all for now. Enjoy deciphering secret meanings, and the Where’s Waldo of piano slips, though Waldo is sometimes hard to find, by contrast. 

Chow for niao,

A