Happy New Year friends, can you believe it? 2017! I say this with a big sigh. I’m not sure if this is a sigh of relief or a sigh of trepidation. I guess only time will tell. Sometimes when I feel like this I take certain precautions like self-care steps, and these precautions that keep/restore my sanity always lie in music, art, and adventure. I got all three yesterday 1-1-17.(Hey, that’s the first time I wrote the date and it looks weird and makes me feel old.)
My New Year’s Day adventure sent me to the City Winery in NYC to see Joseph Arthur— yes again! To see the full photo set from the show click here. I’ve been fortunate enough since November ’16 to catch him three times live. This is my remedy, you know for my sanity like I said: art, music and adventure. As my break quickly wraps up and the real world is catching up to me I can say I ended it with some lightness, some fun, creativity and photography.
So, Sunday’s show was sort of like a wedding with something old, something new, something borrowed, and something blue. I went online and found the set list, it’s floating out there, but I’ll save you the trouble and you can just link here. You can see which fall into the categories, old, new, borrowed, and blue (which was the color of his shirt) .
The borrowed portion of the show was a cover of George Michael’s Freedom take a listen here (just now creating this hyperlink for George made me sad again. RIP George Michael). The track was laid down on his phone but he didn’t say which app he uses (getting hip like the kids nonetheless). I had a very visceral reaction to the Freedom cover, I’m sure others did too. I was a child product of the 80’s and I loved Wham and GM but I don’t think at my age back then when Freedom was released that I actually grasped its poignancy. When Joseph sang it last night I listened, every lyric and to every bit of the intention in his delivery just absorbing it. Not to mention I think this cover officially gave him the #badass. I think in its original form as a pop song (and my age) I missed the depth, and to hear it like this I finally got it. It hit me. And I’m being careful not to talk too much about the new president-elect, but I worry about things as simple as the title of the song, the things that should be simple for us all like Freedom. Fair to say last night was strangely emotional for me kinda like a hybrid of feelings that come up the way church used to be when I was young or how my yoga mat is for me now as an adult. Just a deep feeling of contemplation and emotional space you can get once in a while. And it wasn’t just this moment during the show but there were others too.
I’ve mentioned it before, but me and the other half of Sis Diss, my sister Shan are Northeast Ohio byproducts and listening to Joe play songs from The Family feel so much like home, so much like the rust belt we grew up in, all the good and the bad all rolled up in a ball of yarn you can’t quite find the beginning or end to. It feels all so familiar and sitting with these songs as he plays them from the piano on stage just after holiday brought me even deeper into the head space I was in.
I think my conclusion from last night was that it’s not about resolutions, it’s not about getting better or being better it’s just about being. It’s enough. I think jokingly he even mentioned on stage the quote about something being the journey and not the destination. That may have been about his Leonard Cohen cover of Everybody Knows.
One of my dear friends said to me the other day, “it’s not about knowing what’s next it’s just about asking the question of what is next”. I think the New Year’s Day show for me was about revelations and not resolutions and just thinking about what is next for me in many ways.
Not every show I step into will make me feel this way. I think for me it is when a show is done in the moment, and JA does this well with the feel of being free of ego, or as free of ego as you can get. He’s pretty much an open book up there, this is the part of his showmanship that the audience can connect with. I have some mad respect for a man who can just be in the Flow which takes skills to do. (For those interested in what the Flow is there’s actually some scientific evidence for the idea of the “Flow” you can read about here on your own. (I won’t get into it here in this post since it’s too similar to my work-work, but it is fascinating). My best example of this was midway through painting on his canvas with bubble gum pink paints, Joe just stops glances down and decides in that moment to paint a perfect pink heart on his tee-shirt. It was like this uninterrupted flow of feeling, thought, idea and action that just all came out at once. There wasn’t this process of “hey I want to paint a heart, should I paint a heart?, would a heart be cool?, will the heart be a good idea?, does the audience want to see me paint a heart?…”… That’s flow folks. And modern research says in order to be our happiest we need this trait and I admire him for having it, it’s what keeps me coming back and buying my tickets.
So for 2017 can we all just paint some metaphorical pink hearts. Don’t stop and think too much, get into the flow of the good things life has to offer us. We’ve got some negative forces opposing us for the time being. I’m not quite sure 2017 will make America great again, but I do believe in the power of love, art, music and kindness. I think that is where I will put my focus this year.
Happy 2017 Joe. Thank you for sharing pieces of your musical and creative world with us.
Peace and pink hearts