Playing notes is the basic idea of music, but it’s an impression, and a shallow one. It’s not enough to play the notes.
What I really have to do as a musician is everything that is not in the notation.
The same way I need time with my instruments to interpret notes, I need time with people, to understand and interpret them.
It’s the things I notice when I’m not with my guitar or at the piano that I find so interesting and want to explore later through the soundboard, the strings, bridges, keys and petals.
Playing music is mostly about this: listening to the human heart as it encounters, accepts, and learns to live from whatever rubs up against it.
I am so flawed as an artist. My songs are imperfectly performed. My wispy voice is sometimes shaky about pitch.
My recordings are a set of first-takes, a thoroughly homemade affair. Nothing feels mastered. Listen closely, and you might hear barn swallows, the sound of wood scraping on a floor, probably a chair.
I don’t have many true fans. Is it because everyone else hears my flaws? I could deceive myself into thinking that. Or, that it’s because I don’t fall neatly into a category of music … I’m not exactly country, or folk, or anything else.
But categories don’t matter. Most important work is done by people who don’t easily fit in. No great piece of art is flawless. And no great artist is universally liked or understood.
I’m happy to have a few true fans who don’t hear first-takes, but jewels, and who can’t wait to hear what I make up next.
Who are tuned in to me, flaws and all.