Thursday, September 23, 2010

Instruments, Beer and Sadness

Tonight I get to stand on stage with some wonderful musicians in a dimly-lit room with a nice bar that overlooks the city and play a whole range of instruments, all which come out of my little keyboard which is attached to a computer.  Inside the computer is a whole world of amazing musicians who play the cello and the trumpet and cool old porno keyboards and harmoniums and tinkly pianos.  And when I hit the keys on my keyboard, I play the musicians playing the notes.  So I do play it, but it’s them making the sound.  I love those musicians inside the keyboard inside the computer. 
Did you used to think that people really lived inside of the television? 
Did you think, when you heard instrumental music on the radio, that the singer had forgotten to show up so the band were just playing without them, waiting, embarrassed, for them to come?
Have you seen the film ‘The Saddest Music in the World?’ 
I saw it years ago with my Israeli friend in Paris who convinced me to get on my bike in the snow and ride all the way to the Espace St Michel to see it.  She convinced me by calling me Motek, which means Sweetheart, in her big deep Hebrew voice.  I’m glad she did though, because the film was completely mad and great.  In it, Isabella Rossellini is a sort of beer baroness who has no legs and so she wear glass prosthetic ones filled with her own beer.  She says this great line,
“If you’re sad, and like beer, then I’m your lady.”
It’s the depression/prohibition era and she conducts a competition in Winnipeg to find the saddest music in the world as a ruse to get people to drink her beer.  

The song ‘Swing Low, Sweet Chariot’ is beaten by the simple playing of the notes of a cello.  But then the final winner I think if I remember correctly was nymphomaniac/amnesiac Maria de Madeiros singing on a swing – it’s so sad it makes Isabella’s legs burst.  So I’m not sure what point I’m trying to make with that.  Just that the cello is wonderful on its own.  And instrumental music can be truly transcendant.
Tonight will be wonderful.  

First to play will be a wonderful big 8-piece band with singers and a viola and keyboards and all sorts of things and then the most wonderful poet/singer/storyteller will play his guitar and sing his fragile bird-like songs with a 12-piece Ukranian choir.  Then our instrumental band, led by The Love, will headline, as it’s our Album Launch.  There will be drums and trumpets and guitars and keyboards and a big beautiful vibraphone.
I have marked the keyboard with lots of texta and white-out and post-its and tiny bits of sticky tape to remind me of where each song starts, in case I forget.  So hopefully the room is not too dimly-lit.
The Love will play his guitar as the lead instrument for his instrumental band, and that’s when it will be my turn to play the men inside the computer.  I told him what I’d once thought about instrumental music, not that it was a comment on the style, just that I didn’t know back then that bands could not have a singer.
He says that when you don’t have somebody singing words, then you can make up the pictures in your head yourself.  I like this.  And it’s true.  In some of his songs I see the strangest and funniest things and long, sometimes terrifying stories.
Do you like the instrument the theremin?  Now THAT tells stories.  Imagine trying to sing over the theremin.  It would bite you. 


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