Have you ever heard a melody that made you stop whatever you were doing at the time, and focus instead on the amazing sounds that were filling the air? Well, that happened to me not so long ago.
I was going about my work one day when a friend who plays the guitar and usually listens to Heavy Metal said to me, “Hey, I found a guitarist I think you will like.”
Now truthfully, when my friend made the comment I was convinced that what he had in mind for me to listen to was someone banging obnoxiously on some amped up Gibson SG. This assumption, which later proved grossly incorrect, prompted me to immediately erect a mental blockade of sorts; it was a reflexive move designed to guard against what I was sure was headed my way, namely, an all out assault on not only my auditory system, but on my musical sensibilities as well!
Now, don’t get me wrong, I have a genuine passion for music (really, I do!).
Indeed, I’m never without some way of listening to music whenever possible. And in my own repertoire you will find several styles. For example, friends who knew me in my younger days know that I dig on Rock. Others from my rural roots know I love Old Country. I’ve danced at a Reggae concert or two, and I often get out the old–but not dead–jazz pieces from the ’20s, ’30s and ’40s. One thing few people know about me is that my favorite instrument is actually the cello. (Yo-Yo Ma and Adam Hurst… now those two can really bring me to a calm with their work, no matter how crazy this world can make me!)
Anyway, why my friend thought I would like a Spanish guitarist, I’ll never know. What I do know, however, is that the remarkable song my friend treated my ears and soul to that day–Azul, by John Clarke–made me stop, sit and listen. And what I heard as I listened moved me in a new direction, stretched my soul.
As I sat and listened to the energetic yet fluid sounds of John Clark’s guitar solo, a single question cycled through my mind again and again: “How is it possible”, I thought to myself, “that one person playing one instrument can make all these wonderful sounds I’m hearing?”. Well, the answer, of course, lys not in words, sentences or paragraphs, but in the rhythmic musings and imaginings of a well-tuned, professional artist. Have a listen for yourself and you’ll hear just what I mean.
“He didn’t appear to be looking for the audience to give him attention, it was more like the opposite…”
“… it was as if he had a bag of gifts and he wanted to give something to everyone.”
When you watch Clarke perform his song Most Evolved, you see an artist having fun with his creation. To his credit, John’s performance is at once athletic and effortless. The song, the guitar, John’s fingers: they all just flow in Zen-like unison to an internal rhythm that seems to inhabit the very essence of who he is. To hear him play is truly a wonderful experience, but to actually see him perform … now that’s a whole new dimension entirely!
As luck would have it, our paths actually crossed a while back, albeit in a passive sort of way. When it happened I wasn’t sure who he was. I had stumbled upon John and his inspired music at a place called The Cannery in San Francisco (a very cool place made even cooler by John’s passionate playing). It turned out to be one of those serendipitous moments that I seem to be blessed with from time to time.
Anyway, recalling that moment brings me back to the simple chair in which I found John seated.
He wore simple jeans, shirt and street shoes, and had the look of a humble man. There was, to be sure, nothing flashy about John, and so my impression was that he was a “what-you-see-is-what-you-get” kind of guy.
When he performed, I saw a man in love with the music he plays. He didn’t appear to be looking for the audience to give him attention; it was more like the opposite. It was as if he had a bag of gifts and he wanted to give something to everyone. Those gifts were songs showing amazing talent.
Once in a while during the performance, I saw him with his head down while his fingers were doing the work, and he looked vulnerable; but then he’d look up and I’d see a smile from him. Oops, he had missed a string; but only he noticed it, so he smiled at his faults as we all do at one time or another.
John, to me, is a very human musician. In him I see a teacher for our children who aspire to play guitar. I also see an example of the soul working in unison with the physical body to create a language that as a listener, both soul and physical body can enjoy.
I use music when I write, it helps me focus. And at times it gives my characters attitude. John’s music is inspirational for me, and I wanted to share his gift with you. (I would have felt selfish if I had kept his music to myself without letting others know about it!)
John, I know you don’t know me from any other fan, but I wish you and your talent the best. You truly deserve to be promoted and to play in a venue where you get the recognition you deserve. I applaud you from those high places where the soul resides.
Peace, my friends, and remember: Let your Soul Grow!
To all my readers and fans: As you may already know, I’m a supporter of all the arts, and from time to time you’ll discover a post from me reviewing other people’s work. I do this as an avenue for you, my fans and curious readers, to stretch your soul as well.
What about you? Do you know of an especially talented, gifted, inspired or unique artist that you think I’d enjoy–be they a painter, sculptor, musician, poet, architect, etc? If so, drop me a line. I’ll follow your lead and write a review for others to read and learn from.