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Columns > Patrick Buzby

Published: 2005/02/04
by Pat Buzby


As ’04 gives way to ’05 and fall gives way to winter, I continue circling around this thing we call music: – This New Year’s Eve was the first one in a few years where I ended up at a party rather than performing. Perhaps I haven’t mentioned this yet, but I don’t drink often. However, the party hosts Ethan and Lillie had checked into a set of killer martini recipes. Lillie handed me one and mentioned, as I was putting the glass to my lips, "This is strong." She wasn’t joking.
Ethan’s musical tastes are similar to mine, so the somewhat atypical party music was Miles Davis’s Miles In The Sky and Herbie Hancock’s Thrust. I’ve listened to these albums a number of times, but never on New Year’s Eve or drunk. Ordinarily they come off as intellectually stimulating and all of that sort of thing, but on this night they were more like an extravagant, explosive series of events. Granted, I couldn’t always keep track of what song was playing, but what do particulars matter when the events are so rich?
Since that night, I haven’t been to another party and have only gotten mildly drunk on one occasion. Still, perhaps there’s something to this whole drinking and socializing thing. Ethan played the Oysterhead CD at one party a few years back, and that’s the only time I remember enjoying it. – A few days ago I had the thought that we music critics can be divided into three types: people who don’t know and think they do, people who don’t know and know they don’t, and people who maybe know a bit. At we tend to get fairly straightforward stuff, but I spent a few days grappling with some trickier free improv stuff this month for my other writing gig at Signal to Noise. An extra close listen can transform this music from uninvolving noise to a compelling narrative. And then it goes back to being uninvolving noise on the next listen. – Listening to the sensitive indie songs on the soundtracks of Garden State and Napoleon Dynamite, it occurred to me that someone might want to remind the fans of those artists that Elton John and Cat Stevens served the same function in movies from the early 70’s. Who among the young singer/songwriters out there now will be scoring Disney films in twenty years? And who will retire to devote themselves to the Muslim religion? – Speaking of young, sensitive types, someone must be spending a lot of money on Bright Eyes. – A few weeks ago I joined a church choir. It had partly to do with getting out of ushering (ask my fiancee about this) but it’s been an experience. Our optimistic director gives us new stuff each week and I (and a dozen or so others) search for the right notes. Fortunately, the public performance is usually the best.
I didn’t make a New Year’s resolution this year, but continuing to search for the right notes seems like as good a promise as any.

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