If I die tomorrow, I want to come back to this world as a successful musician. I want the gratification of chords strum out of my finger tips, brain and hands in gratifying piebald, surprisingly hypnotizing the audience with the sound of images.
I spoke here once of my grandfather’s words, that maybe artists are the prophets of our time. I thought it during the Ray LaMontagne concert, and here I am thinking about it now after the Mumford & Sons Concert.
I saw them perform last week: to my eyes, not a single person sat down the entire concert. When they sang, “Love the one you hold…lover of the night,” we felt motivated, filled with more compassion than we walked in with. They sang, “hold me still, bury my heart next to yours…so give me hope in the darkness so I will see the light,” and we felt hope grow and thrive within our chests, exhaling with understanding.
It’s beautiful how the lyrics of a stranger have the power to tie us together, a community of appreciators at the ready to feel.
What hit me the strongest is the first song on their newest album, Tompkins Square Park. Last year in New York, I walked through this park. Just as this song title is the carrier of emotive secrets for many, NYC holds bastions of memory under a cloak of summer heat for me. Last year empowered something warm inside me: the recognition that I am capable of…more.
I’ve spent many years considering myself too plain to create art, a word I’ve idolized in my career. I’ve considered, for myself, art as a beauty to appreciate more than a beauty to create. I’m grateful for the artists and the people in my life today who unknowingly motivate me to see myself capable using words, withy and strewn between the window pane and my palm over so many years, so many experiences. I’m experimenting with new forms of writing outside this writing nook and wondering how malleable my voice is.
In “An Evening with Ray LaMontagne” he talks about his new album and concedes: “I had no idea at the time it presented itself to me where it all came from or what was trying to be expressed.” In notably humble ways, I feel this is where my small creative quests lately are born. In experimenting with fiction, for instance, I’m recognizing how fast a story can turn on its own. I observe it like straight fingers on the planchette of a ouija board, wanting one result but completely intrigued by the uninhibited letters directing the outcome.
I’ve always admired fitting, unabashed confidence–from watching it on stage to seeing in the people around me. I have students who refer to themselves as writers, thespians, musicians, but I don’t recall ever feeling I knew myself well enough at 17 to make a such a claim and hope to live up to it.
But as I settle into my 30s in and into my new home, I sense I’m settling into art in a new way and wondering what it bears.
Here’s to all the people out there who’ve always stared out the window, known something about the view was lyrical, and felt a a concert brewing within their own hearts.