Sir Skid-a-Lot

Kim Kirkpatrick: I do a fair amount of driving to different jobs, one of them has me driving home late at night on the GW Parkway and the beltway. I enjoy listening to music while driving alone, playing it loud, in fact 95% of my music time is spent in the car (which is sad in a way but let's not go there). I have come to enjoy music that takes my drive to a different reality, changing the windshield into a movie screen is the best way I can describe this experience.

With the right music, volume, and especially at night, the scene clicks before me from a driving experience into a motion picture, with everything flowing smoothly, all things moving through an environment that is slipperier and thicker than oxygen. I feel a calmness and tend to flow through the traffic with fluidity and grace. "DANGER DANGER" you might think, this guy is on the road in a trance, drugged by sound waves, he could crash or cause an accident at any moment. Actually, I think I am very much in touch with my surroundings. The music and the road are connected for me, seemingly deciphered by the music, and my mind is focused on the driving.

I had a particular great listening/driving experience one night recently. I was driving in blowing snow that was swirling around and changing directions. I recall rolling on a newly paved road with it's accompanying perfect bright white dashes, observed a polished tractor trailer reflecting and morphing all the lights around it, and a snow plow with an impressive number of flashing lights dancing about with a weird dimensionality to them. Another enjoyable drive occurred just this past week. It was a super clear (winter dry) night, with a full moon glowing on the river and through the trees. One of the above nights I listened to a Mind The Gap sampler with Marc Em, Waiwan, Fetisch Park, Tarwater, and Architect on it. The other night it was Simm's Welcome and a Thomas Brinkmann disc. Brinkmann really fits these experiences, with his numerous subtle changes amongst the steady percussion, it all sneaks up on you nicely.

It is logical that a "Fun fun fun on the Autobahn" trip would be triggered best by pulsing electronic music - a little spaciness (in the music) couldn't hurt as well, right? It is not my intention, however, to confine these experiences to just this genre of music or just at night. I have had astonishing musical experiences while driving in the daytime. One that comes to mind was being stuck in hopeless rush hour traffic, with the hot summer sun in my eyes, and listening to the only music I had with me, a dense, demanding Anthony Braxton group performance that Bob had given me. Bob deserves credit for opening up the possibilities of listening to musical genres (for me) in different environments, music played in situations where I would only have expected them to be irritating*. I think I actually called Bob while on the road to describe the experience. Another rush hour recollection was listening to Fats Waller playing organ. In both daytime examples, the music just pulled the irritation and ugliness of the scene right out of me, creating a positive experience.

I suspect you can relate to all of this and could make up a list of your own but to sum this up, below is a short list of other musicians I recall having such experiences with:

Broadway Project
Built To Spill (Live CD)
Zakir Hussain
Alvin Lucier
Northern Picture Library
Yo La Tengo (in particular the EP with "From A Motel Six" and "Ashes On The Ground")

His experiences were based upon iPod listening on the subway and while walking.

Bob Burnett: That's correct. Many of my listening experiences come when walking or taking the Metro in the Washington, DC area. As I've mentioned to Kim there are times when something so engrossing occurs on Metro I discover I've been staring at someone's shoe for who knows how long. I like the shuffle mode of an iPOD and the mystery and happenstance it allows. Just last week I was listening to Bob Dylan's Blonde on Blonde and began to doze off. The imagery within the lyrics began to create interpretive forms and connect as stories in my mind. With all that freebie visualization going on at one level, another level was playing lifeguard up on the chair saying "yes, you are in an early form of sleep, yes, this is happening, yes this is great....oh two stops to go before you need to get off the train."

I don't listen to music when driving locally--mainly because I don't drive much. When I do drive I'm happy with not having a radio on or evenings having it on a Capitals, Wizards or Nationals game. (depending on season) I do take advantage of long distance solo driving excursions as chances to delve into long-form compositions. For instance I have a fond lasting memory of driving to Providence, Rhode Island and playing Morton Feldman's String Quartet II in it's 4 cd entirety. (the version performed by the Ives Ensemble) I've recently re-acquired Philip Glass' Einstein on the Beach which seems to cry out for a complete listen. I've only listened in fragments and it's been annoying at best that way. I'm thinking I need it as a work en masse and then decide if I've moved on or if new pathways have made themselves present to me. I'll also always cherish a drive down the Oregon Coast while playing The Necks Aether.

No comments:

Post a Comment