Tuesday, October 23, 2007
Does anyone else make a habit of scanning through the "Musician Deathwatch" at Tim Rutherford-Johnson's blog, The Rambler? I'm not an especially morbid sort, but sometimes when I'm down, it cheers me a bit not to find my own name in the obits. It's sort of like the "Magic Fingers" bed-vibrating machines in cheap American motels: you keep poppin' the quarters in, because it feels so good when it stops. WHICH reminds me of an interview (not online, sorry) with Daniel Barenboim in the current issue of Die Zeit, in which Barenboim says that "silence is death and sound is life", which is an oddly over-simplified thought from a mainstream musician who has actually become more interesting over the years, despite all the pressures of the institutional systems in which he wanders. While there is a political context in which this pair of equations makes sense, music is all about sound and silences articulating one another in lively ways, and each is musically meaningless without the other. While death may be meaningless without its contrast, indeed opposition, to life, the reverse is not true, for much can happen in a lifetime that has nothing to do with death, and I happen to count music, with sounds and silences both, among that muchness. And the fact that people, alive and well, can take some moment of their lively wellness to recall the silences and sounds made by musicians who have already taken their shuffle off this coil, well then, those sounds and those silences certainly appear to have some power to transcend the terminal.