Monday, April 14, 2008

Behind the Music

So what about these particular concerts made me skip class or take off work (depending on the year), in some cases fly on an airplane (which I'm afraid to do), and shell out big money (which I'm not accustomed to doing)?

Simply put, I love live music.

I discovered this in 1997 when a friend introduced me to Pat Green's music. I had listened to a few of his songs on a CD and then went to see him in concert. While I was at that concert, I turned to my friend and said, "Pat needs to make a live album because he's ten times better live than he is on his CD." Thankfully, Pat took my advice (oh how I wish I could take the credit!) and put out his first live album almost exactly one year later. Shortly thereafter, my friend introduced me to Pat in person, and I had the privilege of having dinner with Pat and his band in Amarillo before they played at The Nat Ballroom. I was sold. Hook. Line. Sinker. Long live live music!

Around that same time, the same friend gave me a casette tape with some Sarah McLachlan songs on it. I fell in love with her music as well. Soon, Sarah was at the top of my "Must See Before I Die" list.* And so began the quest to find her in concert. Luckily, she was putting on her Lilith Fair concerts at that time, which meant that I got to see her as well as eight or so other performers at each Lilith Fair--in Austin (1998), Dallas (1998), and Colorado (1999).

Knowing that Sarah wanted to start a family and after hearing rumors that there might not be a 1999 Lilith Fair, I decided to go all out and travel to California to The Bridge School Benefit in October 1998. (A little background: In 1986, Neil Young and his wife started The Bridge School to assist children with severe physical impairments and complex communication needs. For the past twenty years or so, Neil Young has put on a concert to raise money for this school.) Those two nights of concerts were, by far, the most amazing live events that I have ever attended. The show is all acoustic, and the line up is always incredible. Sarah McLachlan drew me there, but in the process, I got to see all the musicians that I designated as "California" in yesterday's post.

For me, these memories remind me of how fun it is to see that musicians are real people, with facial expressions, who connect with their audiences. And they illustrate the power in seeing musicians perform live.

I have yet to attend a concert where I was the only one in the audience. So what say ye fellow concert-goers: what makes you attend a concert? Are you a live music junkie for whom a recording simply won't cut it? I'd love to know I'm not alone.

(*I am updating my "Must See Before I Die" list, which I plan to post tomorrow.)


Britta Coleman said...

I've seen Pat Green in concert, and you're right, he's terrific. For me, I love a storyteller when it comes to live music. Someone who will make jokes with the audience, or talk about how a certain song came to life. I think my favorite live performer is Lyle Lovett. He's got that wry, self-effacing humor and his songwriting skills amaze me. Plus, the Big Band is nothing to sneeze at.

"Bluebonnet in the snow" said...

BC - Always great to hear from you. So shocked you didn't mention Willie Nelson. You're right, I saw Lyle with the Big Band and enjoyed every minute of it.

Anonymous said...

Music has always been able to hit home with me in a special way. Can't really explain it, other than sometimes it encapsulates exactly what I'm thinking or feeling.

For instancce: Being alone (either perspectively or literally), sometimes you feel like there's nobody out there that understands you, then a song comes along and reminds you that others feel and have felt the same way.

There's a unification, I suppose, that music can work. Good music can jump across political, religious, moral boundaries. Music can have many meanings. Try "I'm In Love" by Matthew Redman. That song has two very different meanings for me, and I can appreciate both my take on it, and what the writer was trying to get across.

Good lyrics do it, but music itself manages it as well. Take the reprise from the Eagles' song "Wasted Time". Just about the best example I can come up with. Within the space of about 2 minutes, that little instrumental conveys love lost, despair, acceptance, and finally, hope. And there's never a single word spoken. Wow.

As a would-be musician, I love to see performers actually doing their thing live. I learn something each and every time.

The energy that a live performance has simply cannot be conveyed on a record. I've had the experience of hearing records made off of three concerts that I've been to. I couldn't believe how bad it sounded compared to how it sounded when I was actually there. Even great songs take on a new meaning when heard live. A lot of the times you can see how much that particular song means to each performer when they do it live, and they have the energy and love of the crowd flowing there, too.

Wow. that turned into a dissertation, didn't it?

"Bluebonnet in the snow" said...

A - You did a much better job of explaining the emotion that music can create and convey. Well said!