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Notes from the Field

Musical Heroes Take Three

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I have shared my thinking regard super star mandolin performers. Here and here.

Well let me relate a recent experience and share with you a new thought, or at least a new way of saying it.

The other night I was sitting around playing with some friends. I was the only mandolin, and I was sitting with two guitars, four or five fiddles, two banjos, and a church bass. Adult drinks were in attendance as well.

We were collectively and individually having the time of our lives. Playing hard and laughing hard. Playing so well in some cases that the music at times transcended the instruments and just became wonderful melody and harmony disconnected from our individual efforts and floating weightless all around us. It is a kind of magic. Like that exercise we did in Boy Scouts years ago where all of us lift one of us, and none of us feel any of the weight. Who is doing all the lifting?

The laughing was so intense that at times my ribs hurt.

Anyway it struck me:

While I have listened to many of the greatest musicians, mandolinners and others, on recordings you-tubes or in live concert, I have never, ever, had as much fun listening to anyone as I have had playing.

Even playing alone has brought me more joy than some of the best concerts I have been to.

I am not saying I don’t like music or that it doesn’t move me. I love listening to music and some of it is very very moving and inspiring. I have been over awed by mandolin playing excellence of supreme masters of the craft.

But I have not been as reliably moved or as captivated or made as joyful as picking up that instrument and playing it. Even on a bad day. You know the phrase “even a bad day fishing is better than a good day at work.” Well even a mediocre nothing special hour playing mandolin at home is more absorbing, and ultimately rewarding, than anything to which I could listen passively.

I know, different experiences, apples and chain saws.

But it is a good thought to keep in my pocket, as a shot in the arm to mitigate the melancholies induced by watching someone do something on the mandolin I will never be able to do. There is nothing in the world that the prodigy on you-tube can do that affects in the slightest, the fun I am having playing the mandolin. I am not jealous of anyone. My favorite player is me, because he is the only player I get to be.

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  1. FatBear's Avatar
    Some of us are independent, Do-It-Yourself types and some are not. The world needs all of us. As my wife always says: where would the musician be without an audience?
  2. JeffD's Avatar
    Home made music!