This is the question at the heart of our exhibition, “3 Chords and a Longing for the Truth: Rock ‘n’ roll as a quest for the Infinite “ at the 2012 Meeting of Rimini in a few weeks’ time.
Although its roots are in the sorrow, pain, labour, loss and heartbreak of the human journey, recent pop culture has contrived to ‘forget’ its beginnings, creating a bubble of commerce and attitude to hide for its founding truths. The roots of most of our contemporary musical forms emerge from Blues and Gospel, forms which stretch the true note between the muddy deltas of human habitation and the glittering firmaments above. Now reduced, outwardly at least, to ‘showbusiness’ and ‘entertainment’, the holiness of the song is forced inwards into a closed circuit, a communicating and receiving that becomes mistakable for something else – diversion, avoidance, entertainment – and so capable of being denied in its true nature.
via MUSIC/ The Truth Lurks Inside the Bubble of Attitude and Commerce, John Waters
I follow you likewise with happy steps
and I do not leave you,
my Life, my Light.
Pursue your path
and do not stop,
continue to draw me on, to push me, to urge me.
In her Close Up series, Suzanne Vega is releasing new acoustic recordings of songs from the span of her career. The latest, People and Places, follows the first volume: Love Songs. States of Being and Songs of Family are upcoming. People and Places includes “Tom’s Diner” and “Luka” among others. “The Queen and the Soldier” shows how violence comes from denying need. “Angel’s Doorway” recounts the burden of a policemen stationed at the site of the World Trade Center, who protects his wife by leaving his clothes at the door with “those things he’s seen.” Although Vega is often interested in marginal perspectives, she doesn’t comfort herself with ideological self justification or accusations. Instead, she sees interested in the meaning of things.
Suzanne Vega conveys the moment as the sign of something greater, inviting the listener to discover the beauty and promise of fleeting time. “Ironbound/Fancy Poultry” tells the story of a woman who longs for something more as she looks at a ring that’s out of her budget. A vendor’s cry is the refrain:
"Fancy poultry parts sold here.
Breasts and thighs and hearts.
Backs are cheap and wings are nearly free"
For Vega, the banal hawking of meat may well express the cry of the human heart. Or a boy ringing a church bell could remind you of loss, as it does in the song “In Liverpool.”
“He sounds like he's missing something
Or someone that he knows he can't
Have now and if he isn't
I certainly am
Homesick for a clock
That told the same time
Suzanne Vega challenges us to discover signs in the moment, signs that may indicate an absence, or if pursued all the way to its origin, may reveal an even greater presence awaiting us.
reprinted from Traces 1, 2011
[T]here is something extraordinary about this building, which I suspect is tied to Mr. Gehry’s personal history. Years ago, when he was designing Disney Hall, he told me that when he first arrived in Los Angeles as a teenager, his family lived in a cramped one-bedroom apartment on Ninth Street in a run-down area near downtown. He and his sister took turns sleeping on a Murphy bed in the living room. Their father, who had just suffered a heart attack, was working nights in a liquor store. To keep her children from falling into despair, their mother played classical music every night after dinner. It was, Mr. Gehry said, a way of binding them together as a family.
Nicolai Ouroussoff, "Gehry's Design Plays Fanfare for the Common Man"