June 23, 2010
Bill Hill, the man who helped bring you reading-on-the-screen, generally a big thinker and smart guy, seems to have suddenly found his poetic voice in a new Youtube video ostensibly about the oceans of the world being One. Much as I agree 100% with the sentiment, particularly in view of the trashing of the oceans through which we are currently living, there is something about an ex-Microsoft software genius shooting video of himself on a surfboard and intoning wise words in a voice-over about the ocean that activates my ridiculity alert system. I'm not sure why. Worst part: I really like the guy. Bill: "Japan" does not rhyme with "Taiwan." Who's going to tell you if I don't?
June 16, 2010
Anyone who knows me knows that I have a small problem with music. I am no musician, couldn't sing you the top note of a chord if it hit me in the head. But I get hypnotized by music-- get obliterated by the ordering of time and sound. I believe it is inherent: music is encoded in the Russian genome.
This losing of my intelligence and self-control near music caused untold idiocy and pain to self and others in my younger years. I distinctly remember a very young Sharyn O'Mara, now a dean at an art school, tracking me down to some music den in Providence in the early hours of the morning, after noticing that I had gone missing from the grad design studio, twenty years ago.
But now that I am mature I have developed some excellent coping skills for this music problem. I'm generally ok if I'm careful and avoid talented people and don't listen too closely to things. Rarely now do I hear something or someone that stops cerebration cold and turns me into a hypnotized blob. And this is good.
In a recent chapter of my past, it was incumbent upon me to show up fairly regularly at area open mics in order to show support for a musician friend. I wasn't very good at being audience to most of these half-baked efforts, but I tried. Anyway, many open mics and many coffeehouse concerts by aspiring artists went past my ears for years. I really don't remember any of them except one.
I showed up to a coffeehouse one evening, got a coffee, said hi to a few people, sat down in the gathering audience, saw a person named Eric Miller standing at the microphone, heard the first few notes of his opener, and promptly lost my brain. It was Providence all over again. The music-response gene went active. Thank goodness there were people there to drag me out at the end of his set.
Eric is a real singer/songwriter. His are not the uncontrolled musings of an unformed consciousness. He plays acoustic: He knows how to write and he knows what he is writing about. He has just the kind of dark voice suitable for his own lyrics, and those lyrics are sometimes rollicking, sometimes sweet, sometimes bittersweet. His arrangements are fearless. And he's always on top of his music, in control of it, making it work for him.
Well, what can I say. That night I wanted to buy a CD. But, unlike everyone else I had heard in those years, he did not have one for sale. He told me he felt he wasn't ready to make one, that he needed to work more--hone his skill, write more. In this day of instant CDs, in this day of instant belief in the value of one's own artistic creations, when do you hear someone say that? So a couple years have passed. Yesterday I opened my mailbox to find "There Is Nothing for You Here," Eric Miller's first CD. (www.ericmillersongs.com) It is rounded, mature, thought-through: beautiful. He is ready: It is time.