Gershwin and Free Bird

“People discuss my art and pretend to understand as if it were necessary to understand, when it’s simply necessary to love.”
Claude Monet


Gershwin and Free Bird

I am feeling great today. It is a good day to be alive. I woke up this morning and looked out my window over to the Sandia Mountains. The clouds in the early morning were all pastel, soft pinks and soft blues. I thought, “Those are Monet’s colors”.

Normally I glance out the window and then stumble towards my coffee pot. But today, I watched the sky. We look at impressionist paintings all to often at the style of the art form and not at the content or the intention of the artist. Because, I think that artists say in their work, “wait a sec, take a look at this.”

Rhapsody in Blue by Gershwin is said to have captured the street movement and life of New York City. If you listen to it in your chair, you can imagine the rush and urgency and the fading and then straining of urban life. However, if you are in New York or Hong Kong or St. Petersburg or London, and walking on the street; you can see all of the little notes in the people and cars around you. dee-dee-dee-dee-dee-dee-dee-dat-de-dee. It isn’t the big statement but, instead, the “wait a sec, look at this” in the details of life swirling around you.

George Gershwin said in 1931:
It was on the train, with its steely rhythms, its rattle-ty bang, that is so often so stimulating to a composer – I frequently hear music in the very heart of the noise…. And there I suddenly heard, and even saw on paper – the complete construction of the Rhapsody, from beginning to end. No new themes came to me, but I worked on the thematic material already in my mind and tried to conceive the composition as a whole. I heard it as a sort of musical kaleidoscope of America, of our vast melting pot, of our unduplicated national pep, of our metropolitan madness.

Our exposure to paintings and music and writings and dancing, all of the arts, often have huge broad statements about our world but, so often, it brings out the little details in life for us to notice and stop and appreciate. It can make us see instead of looking for the opening the crowd to get us to the bar. It is like driving down Route 66 and seeing Steinbeck’s America.

It isn’t only the classics. When I am in my car on a six lane freeway going eighty miles per hour, I can hear those guitars in Free Bird. The pounding acceleration of the music urging me to go faster and faster.

Twyla Tharp choreographed the movie Hair. I don’t see her stuff on the streets at all, never. I do see it on the playgrounds when kids are running around having fun.

Glibby gloop gloopy Nibby Nabby Noopy La La La Lo Lo
Sabba Sibby Sabba Nooby abba Nabba Le Le Lo Lo
Tooby ooby walla nooby abba nabba
Early mornin’ singin’ song

Really, it is a great day to be alive.

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