I was surfing the internet last night for a couple of hours, a bit aimless I guess, but with an intent to find new music that touches me. I did find lots and lots of music: bands that I’ve never heard of (which means nothing; I live in a bubble), their photos and songs displayed prominently on the front pages of ultra-chic and hip online-magazines. I listen to these artists, and wow, they’re all so fucking cool! So many artists with the latest production, everyone pushing boundaries and sounding and looking more artsy and individual and weird and unique than the other…
It all makes me feel insecure, until I realize this: hardly any of this music touches me. I admire their fashionable stylings, I can listen to this sort of music and enjoy the trendy vibe it creates, but in all honesty, I find it relatively rare to find artists that really speak to me on a deep level, in any genre.
It’s like that feeling that one sometimes gets when reading a spectacular book: when you find yourself inhabiting the world the author created; swimming in the surroundings, feeling like you know every character personally; feeling like you never want to leave this alternate reality and yet you’re compelled to devour every word, and thus the end inevitably and mercilessly approaches… This is how I feel with artists when they really touch me, regardless of their genre. With music it’s ceaseless listening: hearing the same song over and over and over and over………. It’s like falling in love…but with a song. When that happens, a relationship is created with the artist too–I forever feel a warmth and intimacy toward them, regardless of whether they end up producing more art that I like.
I think that the reason why deep connection with art is rare is this: even though an artist has skill, it does not mean that they have the uncommon combination of authenticity and intimacy. To really touch someone, you have to be willing to be vulnerable, and that can be scary to most people. Most artists never allow that intimacy, and I can understand why. It allows people to get to know you in a way, to really see you–flaws and all, and most of us would rather wear a mask.
It requires a specific kind of bravery to write lines like Bjork’s “I suck my tongue in remembrance of you.” The bravery to be who you are and express it freely. I admire that immensely. Trendiness has its place of course, but I am compelled to strive for something else: authenticity and intimacy. Who I am will never please everybody, but it is enough. To end, I’d like to quote Tom Waits, as he makes my point so clearly:
“I would rather be a failure on my own terms than a success on someone else’s. That’s a difficult statement to live up to, but then I’ve always believed that the way you affect your audience is more important than how many of them there are.”