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Easter music

Sunday 4/12/20

I am listening to Mahler's second symphony--the Resurrection symphony--as I work before heading out on my run. I feel like I am in a cave and have been for many years, and it's dark and there is fire coming from the walls and I can feel my flesh melt but I don't die. I feel like that is what I feel all day every day. I can see no way out, I can't even usually see the boulder that fills the mouth of the cave, but I know it is there. I can't resurrect, I can't live. All I know is the cave, the agony, the melting flesh which I know so well that I know that there is no absolute point, there isn't just one way for that to feel, a maxed-out agony, as someone else would expect--I know it can feel worse yet an hour later, the next day's melting can be worse, the next week's worth. I think that's what I most think about at Easter now. And what life is like outside of the cave.

Anyway. This is Mahler's Second here. It's a long symphony. Like Beethoven, he added a choir, and he wrestled with what words to include for a long time, until everything, in a moment of creativity and understanding--a moment I understand--everything came to him. That, really, is what process is like for a genius. People in publishing fetishize process. They like to think a process can be taught, and a process can, insofar as what they do goes. But really, for someone creating work that matters, your fundamental process is going to be what you figure out, in that fractional second. It's even less time than that, really. There are other things you do, and you work hard, but in some ways, that's the whole trick of it.

Berlioz is referenced in the story I'm working on, "Green Glass Door." Where he was referenced got moved, parts got cut, which is apt, I suppose, because Berlioz himself radically cut his "Resurrexit" from Messe Solennelle. When I think of fanfare--well, besides the classical music magazine I wrote for for a long time, I guess--I think of this passage.

Stravinsky's Mass is quite exciting. I get more and more into Stravinsky. He can be like Dylan for classical composers. The Catholic mass was a long way off from his culture and rearing in the Russian Orthodox faith. People today--the Woke--could cry appropriation, but you always want to appropriate, by which I mean, inhabit. Anything you can inhabit, you can turn to art, your art, universal art, and art, too, in the sphere in which it originally existed.

Rimsky-Korsakov's Easter Overture. With the piece, I think I could play it for someone, makin no mention of Easter, and yet they'd have a sense that it was Easter-related. That's how skilled Rimsky-Korsakov was with programmatic music. We hear sleight bells, we think of Christmas, but Easter, it is not so easy.

This is the great Roy Eldridge's "Easter Parade." Do you hear his pace? By which I mean, he's going to go at the tempo he goes at, which is slower than a lot of trumpeter's would take this. Most players are led by the music--the best lead the music. Even when they follow behind the beat. It's like how Gretzky could slow down a play in hockey without slowing anything down, really.

"Slip Inside This House" is a cut off the 13th Floor Elevators' 1967 album Easter Everywhere, later covered by Primal Scream on Screamadelica. They produced a couple major works, with their debut LP and this follow-up. Note the guitar tone.

The Stone Roses' "I Am the Resurrection." The Stone Roses had days on which they were the best band to ever grace this earth--better than the Beatles. The Beatles also had those days, and more of them. But the Roses truly had a few. Ian Brown is widely considered an awful singer. He's my second all-time favorite singer in any medium. This is a song about being discriminated against, kept down, attacked, betrayed, but creating art and rising above it all. It is about the divine and eternal that lives within the true artist. In the official studio version, after the song seems to reach its peak and close, there is the single greatest moment of defiance, of assertion, of life, in the history of music. The artist has made a statement, delivered a statement, at an untouchable level. It is a statement of "Go ahead, try to match that in a billion of lifetimes." It is enough. It is more than enough. But then, they offer up something else, at another level, with an instrumental undertaking (beginning at 3:40) that is, itself, an instrumental undertaking of soul and faith and belief--the love the true artist ultimately has for the people of a world in which it may seem he does not belong. Which is perhaps one reason the artist can do so much in and for that world. Allowing that the cave is escaped and fires--certain fires--cooled, as others blaze and birth.


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