Continued from yesterday…
What in the world does it mean to really “feel” the song before jumping into it? To me, feelings have always been an abstract (and thus complicated to describe) if not completely subjective (meaningless to anyone but the one experiencing them) thing. We are able to name our emotions and in that naming claim some sort of common experience in our humanity. But the intangible sensations that feelings provide are something very different than the cognitive and spiritual experiences that are our emotions. Feelings happen in the physical body. Emotions exist in our mind and soul. While I appear to be creating some sort of semantic separation of the two, I don’t believe that we can have one without the other.
Music, of course, has some sort of unexplainable connection to both our feelings and our emotions. We might be able to say that we experience an emotionally resonant sensation while listening to music, simultaneously being physically moved by it in our feet tapping, head nodding, and/or full fledged dancing. It’s certainly debatable which is more important: the ability of music to move us, or the ability of music to move us.
What Dee has somehow managed to teach me is this: The “feeling” of music is something that can be tapped into before the music starts. I have no way to prove the following (its merely a feeling), but somehow when I make a conscious effort to tap into the “feeling” of a song, I have the perception that the song means more than its tune, or rhythm, or lyrics.
I’m currently at the point where I would like to believe that this approach to music making is one step closer to making my music less of an ideal in my life, and more of an actual way of life. I believe this is what Dee has found a way to do. And kudos to him for having the integrity to not prostitute his music (at least not that I know of).
Theologically, the lesson that I have picked up from Dee speaks volumes. There are quotes upon quotes from musicians about the intrinsic divinity or spirituality in music. I’m not going to add to those here, but I will make the observation of how seriously theologians take the role of music in their theology (and thus, their lives). Since our culture is so thoroughly saturated with music, it is often difficult to make sense or empathize with the music on a subjective level. Instead, I’m afraid that many people objectify the music they listen to. This is mostly out of sheer convenience if not a certain degree of ignorance, but the consequences of this are that the intangible power and healing energy of music gets lumped into the same category of nonsense that justifies the behavior of marketing/selling/and bastardizing music. I don’t think that I’m too far off in saying that the same sort of thing happened to American Christianity in the last half of the 20th century.
When I was leaving WELCOME yesterday, I ran into Dee on the street chatting with a few of our other regular guests. I had my guitar on my back and Dee yelled at me “Hey! Where you goin’ with that guitar?”
“This is my guitar!” I flipped back.
Dee has a habit of taking guitars that aren’t his and re-purposing them to some destiny more fitting, so our little exchange brought a smile to my face because I knew that he would have no qualms about re-purposing my guitar. I leaned against the building’s wall and said that he could play a song if he wanted. He happily agreed, so I took my guitar out of its case and handed it over. Dee knelt down on the sidewalk and let loose an improvised song in full voice. When he was finished I played a song for him, and then packed up my guitar. He walked a few more blocks down Polk St. with me until I was stopped by a red light. Dee wasn’t stopped though – he simply walked right across the street tapping his fingers on the car’s hoods as they slowed down in order to not hit him.