Friday, April 23, 2010

We'll run like we're awesome, totally genius

No time for a full post here (well, it's turned out a bit lengthy-but-scattered), but I would like to call your attention to this profile and streaming audio for my favorite band. I have yet to listen to many tracks on the album, but I look forward to the day I can purchase it and immerse myself again in the amber bubble that is The National. The article's certainly rekindled my enthusiasm (not that it had ever burned down much). It's thoughtful and fairly lengthy and I liked learning more about the band dynamics. I have come to love some distinctive qualities of The National's music (mainly the guitar work and the lead singer's voice) so it's interesting to hear how the band views those as both strengths and limitations. Plus, Steve Reich likes them, and calls them "the latest incarnation of a classic rock ’n’ roll band," an assessment I totally share. How can you go wrong?

And of course it is strange to read about the band members talking and arguing and sniping away at each other: reminds you they're people. I tend to like to keep my pop culture figures at a remove--so often it turns out they have horrible personal lives, or a really annoying voice, or dreadful political views, or something. I'd like to be more open-minded about integrating my experience of art with personality. But I get so deeply into the world of what I read or hear; the sight of the real, live creator often seems like a letdown, or an intrusion on this carefully personal world. I suppose this is on my mind because yesterday I attended a broadcast of Alan Bennett's The Habit of Art, an often-hilarious and always thought-provoking look at the lives and art of W.H. Auden and Benjamin Britten. After that (of course fictional) portrayal, I did feel more invested in those two artists. Maybe through the once-removed nature of a theatrical or textual representation, I can learn about the creators without letting reality intrude toooo much on my Ecstatic Artistic Experience.

What is your feeling on these matters? Do you like meeting people you've known only as text or sound or object? I should say that despite my general view, every so often I'm pleased to encounter an exception: I was charmed by talking briefly to Christoph Niemann at his book-signing this past weekend, for instance. And I have experienced nothing else like seeing The National live for the first time. A year of integrating those chords and words into the very fabric of my day, of my being, only to suddenly find the sound of my life made three-dimensional, flesh and blood. I can't do the sensation justice with these words.

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