Friday, July 1, 2011
I was eating a pumpkin muffin and listening to Freebird. The lyrics had me daydreaming and not giving the interview I was reading fair attention, so I closed the journal and tapped my fingers on the table, swayed to the music, and looked out the cafe window while drifting off into my memory. I like hearing this old song every once in a while and allowing it to carry me away. I'm familiar with two popular versions of the song. The version I like best is not the live version with play it pretty for Atlanta and how bout you? inserted into the original lyrics.
There are certain songs, novels, films, and paintings that do something that jolts me out of the lovely feeling of being lost in the work. It's something that abruptly shifts the mood. In Freebird I find myself lost in the live version until I hear the lyrics shift for the crowd. Maybe if I were there I'd feel differently, but from here, it just doesn't work for me. I'm not in Atlanta. I get transported to some cheesy stadium concert when I prefer being lost. I do get past the disruptions in this live version and I wouldn't turn it off it came on the radio. Perhaps it's because the song is so long. I have time to recover and get back into the music. Does this conflict with the point I'm making? Maybe, but making a clear point is overrated and often the sign of a narrow mind.
In certain novels and films I find myself thrown by the ending. A neatly tied up ending rarely works for me, especially when the story was anything but neat. I never like it, but clearly others do. To me, it feels strange and contrived, disjointed -- forced. I prefer more open endings, such as Sofia Coppola's Somewhere, Amy Sackville's The Still Point, and Per Petterson's Out Stealing Horses. You close the book or walk away from the screen and you are still under their spell.
Yesterday the shift (not quite a jolt) was good. I walked slowly through an exhibition of works collected by the Steins and was taken by a small Matisse painting. It was a landscape with cypress trees, a palette of mostly grey green and grey blue. In the lower right corner there was one subtle stroke of a salmon color. The stroke took me somewhere else. I left the painting and imagined the wet paint, the painter, his choices. But then I sunk back into the landscape and ended up drawn even deeper into the work, imagining him seeing that salmon color one day while standing there beside the cypress trees.