Helmut and Kevin have chosen oblique angles to do it, but they both take up the question of sponteneity in music.
Sometimes, in general, you listen to music and feel embarrassed. It's a kind of embarrassment that the musician hasn't hit it, whatever it is, and that you're there to witness the failing at it. This experience is made much worse by earnestness and certainty. I've heard plenty of live music like this - where I felt like bolting out of discomfort with the aural carnage. But you also know that moment when you've really heard it because it hits you hard in the ears, mind, and body.Kevin:
It's all just pop music, really, and though there are a few pop stars who still attempt more elaborate projects, with mixed results (the aforementioned Joe Jackson comes to mind), your best pop is made by talented people who are not dumbing down their work by making 3-minute pop records (Joe again, most of the time). They instead work within the limitations of the form and come up with something novel, or fun, or new or perhaps even great.It may be an ephemeral thing, impossible to define, but I don't think it is an accident. It is honesty, openness -- but it is also bloody hard work, discipline. I imagine there's some Zen principle at work here, in that the more you worry at a musical form, the more difficult it becomes, and the key that unlocks the door is Mindful abandonment of Effort.
I've had moments in my musical life (amateur, entirely, pathetically amateur!) when I've had it: Pick up a guitar, and something utterly new and never-before-heard comes flowing out of my fingers. But it's worth noting that those moments always come when I've been playing obsessively for days and weeks on end. Hard work leads to it. It will never come when I've laid the guitar by for a month -- which, I ruefully admit, happens much often than it should. After these hiatuses, I will pick up a guitar and know that it is far, far, far away.
Hey: Helmut takes as his text a record by bluesman Robert Pete Williams. If you like roots music (and if you don't, I don't want to know you), there's an absolutely amazing treasure trove of hundreds of free downloads of everything from '20s piano blues to '30s Calypso waiting for you here. Go stuff it up your iPod. Don't say I don't turn you on to the Good Stuff. Thanks to Employee of the Month for the heads-up.