I started with some Joni Mitchell, who I came to appreciate later in life after that scene with Emma Thompson in Love, Actually, featuring a miraculously fresh and poetic version of “Both Sides Now.” After a few more songs it was onto Jeff Buckley, who I first heard about on, of all places, American Idol. “<Jeff Buckley’s version of Hallelujah> is one of my favorites,” said Randy Jackson, sending the brilliant album on which it appears to number 1 on iTunes for a few days.
Warmed up for something heavy and emotional, I dialed over to Pink Floyd’s “The Final Cut,” an album (yes, I first bought it on vinyl) I remembered fondly from my youth. “Cut” holds up as a modern masterpiece, IMHO. It’s a rock album about a son struggling with the death of his Father in a foreign war, and I found it even more poignant today than it was when I was 16. Do yourself a favor, buy and listen to this album when you have the time to really listen to it. It includes the tale of a soldiers death from the perspective of his son, describes thoughts running through the mind of an airman shot out from the under bubble of a B-29 as he floats toward the earth, and climaxes with The Final Cut, a disturbingly intimate reflection on depression and suicide.
They don’t make ’em like that anymore. So what’s the point of all this?
It struck me that what made these artists special was their willingness to share their innermost feelings with the rest of us. What’s made their work into enduring art is the respect the rest of us have for how difficult this is, what an extraordinary act of faith it is to expose yourself to the extent necessary to establish a real connection with another human being.
They say web 2.0 has democratized media, made all of us artists in a away that was never possible before. It’s not any easier to tell the truth about what you feel, though. Do you? Do you know of someone who does?