Last month a person from a high school in Minnesota wrote me asked to do an interview for class project. She found me in a random search. What’s your favourite piece of music? What’s your inspiration? Why did you start playing? A day or two went by between questions, not the usual interview but high school, ok. More questions, do you know how to use a seat wrench? What colour is transmission fluid? What’s more frightening a bear or a lion? Reasoned each answer musically. Used a seat wrench to tune piano pegs even though it’s for plumbing; if you tour your music you learn about cars, transmission fluid is red; both bears and lions are frightening but either might become curious, friendly even if you play the flute or harmonica.
Found myself at a party speaking with Earl the bassist, we used to play together, he has the the kind of personality that offers unfiltered observations. He was down, recently divorced, answered yes too often in his usual way when his partner who wasn’t really looking for his actual thoughts – do I look fat in this dress? I asked Earl what he thought about the high school interviewer and he said I was being scammed and was out of touch with reality because I’m flattered someone still knows who I am. “Think it through Bob” said like Clint Eastwood chastising an empty chair but then John Caton came to mind. A long time ago he explained you have to play every city, go to every radio station, shake every hand, do every interview. Maybe that’s where it started, when John managed Blue Rodeo and walked us through the future according to him. John called it difficult work. That’s like telling my 6 yr. old Halloween is hard because you dress up and get candy. These conditions aren’t work. Work is where you don’t want to be, where you earn less than you need to live, where you get hurt physically and mentally. Promoting who you are as a musical performing artist is far from work. What kind of spoiled position is behind calling that hard?
Last suspicious advice from Earl, “Probably trying to steal your melodies”. Wasn’t sure if he was making a joke or was serious. Wish I could teach a course in a music department and call it How to Steal Without Getting Caught or How to Turn What You Stole into Something You Made. People have always already done this, just don’t know if Universities realize it could be offered. So many methods we could chase. Might take apart a famous song and have students compose something based on its variation. Superstition for instance. Start with the rhythm or the instrumentation or the lyrics or the structure or the melody. Maybe we just see how far we go before what they are writing is entirely unrecognizable from a 13 month old baby. Maybe this whole thread is just an imitation of something else which also was.