From sixth to ninth grade I kept diaries, until life started featuring moments that were way too daunting for me to live, let alone attempt to describe. Nothing like reading an old diary entry to make you understand that you're more fortunate today than last year.
When you record yourself playing music it's like a diary entry. And in some ways you leave more of yourself in that recorded music than you could ever describe in prose. And it turns out that you may leave more than you might want to. Today I found a CD I did, playing bass for and with the late Bob Gibson, banjoist, 12-string guitarist and songwriter, who was one of the big heroes when I first played coffeehouses in the early sixties. Bob was very large on the circuit, to say the least. An awfully musical person, who, in my expert opinion then, had gotten a little bland, performance-wise, in his later years. It might have taken too much energy to keep up the kind of speedy tone he set when he first showed up. But by the time I began playing bass for him I would often have the feeling that his music needed a little kick in the ass. And it seemed to me that Bob was really fortunate that I was playing bass for him and thinking that way.
This recording was of an evening in 1991 and I came away from listening to it (hadn't heard it since then) with the feeling that I certainly wished that the damn bass player would play way less notes. I found it very difficult to witness how I stepped over Bob's delicate and light-strummed moments with my clumsy ideas, so obviously trying to kick it into another level of energy. It's probably always a bad idea to attempt to control where a song or a performance goes. For one thing, your dissatisfaction with how things are shows only too well. And besides, music is better without somebody fussing and fuming and wanting to take over. Bob sounded great, by the way.
(No 2005 comments)