Thursday, July 14, 2011

American Beauty. 7/14/2011

Jerry Garcia.

That's Jerry fucking Garcia singing backup vocals on this track! All of a sudden, this song, "Box of Rain", is no longer one of my friends, but someone esoteric and famous. "Box of Rain", who personally got me through one of the hardest eras of my adult life; "Box of Rain", who helped Lindsay (of Freaks and Geeks) figure out which way to turn out; "Box of Rain" who single-handedly turned a shitload of people into amateur Dead Heads. I feel as though I can love songs as I love people, and I love this song like a best friend. And yet today, as I listened to it for the thousandth time, I noticed Jerry's voice cushioning Phil's towards the end of the recording. And my heart fluttered, as though a local deity had been mentioned.

I have certainly found, in life, the way to keep myself spiritually fulfilled, and it is through describing the effect of music on my heart. I love falling in love, and each night, as I step out into this town to feast my ears upon its local delights, I get to do just that. One night, we could be watching Frankie Fairfield and Blind Boy Paxton at the Redwood, being transported instantly to the dusty, fragrant pages of an old copy of The Grapes of Wrath. The next night, we could be watching Seth Kasselman and Caitlin C. Mitchell of Warm Climate annihilate the confines of time signatures as they paint their fantastic aural cyclone around our heads. The weekend brings about Part Time Punks, where the sleekest recent period 5-pieces flaunt their competitive authenticity, and free Mondays promise the bright-eyed, bushy-tailed pop bands exerting their practiced kitschabilities.

It's happening all around us, every night. This town is electric with the efforts of thousands of artists, working in every medium of every era ever recorded. And our computers! We have these little boxes of technology that we trust like mothers, and through them we find access to everything that people ever took the time to recall, to consider noteworthy, to create, to record. We can see it, and we can hear it. We can figure out a way to find access to it. We can learn everything our brains can hold from it. We can contribute to it. We can contribute to it.

Concert Haikus has been the contents of my mind since I didn't even know what was going on in it. I have considered myself and this blog synonymous, and usually identify most with it when looking out over my artistic and record label-related projects. It has also been my way of watching my life and taste change during an intense and exciting era in Los Angeles music history. That is why, although this is sad to no one but me, I say goodbye with a heavy heart. I love describing music more than my mental thesaurus can provide words for, but I have started to reach a point where the shows I attend are no longer observed with objective ears. In each of the haikus I wrote for the blog, I tried to tell the most accurate tale of how the night affected me. If ever I came across as disrespectful to a band, please know it was meant to convey a feeling, and feelings change with the wind. I'm sorry for any offense caused, and thankful if I ever inspired any pride.

I have loved every show, every night, every band and every experience, negative or positive, because I'm starting to realize how special this moment in time is. We are lucky for the world at our fingertips. We are standing in the center of a rift in time, where the future and the past are the same thing, splayed out before us, a 360-degree universe of possibility. We have access to EVERYTHING, no matter where we are, but we have to keep looking. We have to keep contributing, keep paying attention, keep following that scent-trail of forward thinkers. There is a lot of beauty, a lot of effort, and a lot of life cradled in the folds of these additions to our culture and our legacy as a people. When our future is the past, whatever we added to this strange phenomenon could be someone else's future again, no matter what happens after we die. I am ready to contribute more than just 17 syllables a night now, and I have to honor that.

I love you for reading, and I am sorry that I used this usually concise forum to expose my thought processes. I know it's intimate and preachy, but please don't feel obligated to emotionally invest. I just wanted to let you know how much I appreciate you for being present with me for this, for being curious about what happened at shows, for being musicians who put your heart out there on the stage for someone to describe for others later. I appreciate everyone who ever checked in, wrote comments, or critiqued my endlessly terrible spelling. I appreciate my friends for indulging this for so long. Thank you.

Los Angeles is, to me, like "Box of Rain". The city and the song are both mine, home and confidant, keepers of my most humbling secrets. Simultaneously, their legends are so crushingly huge that the whole universe can fall as in love as I am, and said expanse is provided the same intimacy. As we listeners access time in universal directions, this city transcends space. No matter where you are, when you were here, you were in L.A. with me. To say I appreciate your company on this journey is almost too inadequate to allow, but I've used all my best hyperbole over the course of the last 3.5 years on this blog, and I have tried not to bore you with repeated adjectives too often.

I'd be remiss if I departed on anything other than the blog's namesake, so without further ado, a haiku for American Beauty by The Grateful Dead, the living room concert that inspired the end of an era:

A memory is
An immeasurable clue
To a world sans time.

With love,