Saturday, September 11, 2010

Different Media, Different Methods

This started as an email to Sean Craven ( Thus there are some second person phrasings in here. If you are not Sean and they apply to you, fine. If not, well, I liked the email enough that I didn't feel like editing the damned thing. I have enough editing to do without messing with this.

Was listening to a Gary W. Tallent bass line on a Springsteen live version of Chuck Berry's Back in the USA, and I loved the bass line, but realized, it would have been different if it hadn't followed that particular piano solo. Which to a certain degree is the nature of the bass: it sets things up or it follows them. It's an 'in conjunction with the rest of the band' instrument.

I also realized that there's this weird guitar break in the Springsteen version that probably has nothing to do with the Chuck Berry original but was included in the MC5 version. Which was produced by Jon Landau, who later became Springsteen's manager, probably by the time of the bootleg I was listening to.

Music is such an interdependent activity, while writing and the visual arts lean toward independence. To varying degrees, depending on what input the artist allows. Which, multivariegated artist that you are, has to tap into different parts of your brain, which has to be good for you. While I have chosen a job that requires a large amount of work-related socializing, and after work, except when I specifically seek out friends, I NEED my isolated activities. Different ways of achieving some form of balance.

Not to claim that either of us has achieved our ideal state, but there are other people in the world who either get no isolation or get far too much. Which presumably makes for an imbalance, results of which are fucking fine fodder for story-telling. I think instantly of The Wild Child, a great movie based on an interesting book. A similar story, that of Kasper Hauser, was turned into an interesting play by Peter Handke and another interesting movie (by Werner Herzog, who was a friend of Handke), such fine material that it was a good story in at least four different tellings, although in my opinion only the Truffaut movie was great. (The play was pretty damned close, though.)

I wonder how the medium relates to the tale. The Wild Child, as it's about an isolated character, seems like it would be delivered most accurately as a book, an isolated creation. But the story is not about a boy alone. It is about a boy alone inserted into society, it's about that society's reaction to him and its attempts to either sell him as a freak or to defreak him into being one of us. At least, that's the story Truffaut's movie tells. The other angles I've witnessed may have been as accurate in terms of what they intended, but I did not get the emotional impact. Handke's play is difficult to compare as it is an experimental piece with few words spoken, and I've read it but not seen it.

I think the primary point to be made from this is that the storytelling that worked best had a point to make and made it. You have to know what you're trying to do, and you have to say it. The bass line that follows the piano solo may not have been there the first rehearsal, or the seventh. But the damned song was not complete until THAT was THERE.



Here are the links to sites devoted to Handke's dramas:

robp said...

Hey, Summa Politico, (or is it Michael?)

Although you don't comment at all on the post itself, thank you for the links. I'm a fan of Handke's writing, especially The Goalie's Anxiety At The Penalty Kick (which was also made into one of my favorite movies, directed by Wim Wenders.) Haven't read as much as I'd like, as is the case with all writers I like. Cheers.

robp said...

This dialogue continues on Sean's blog:

Joel said...

Hi, I came across your site and wasn’t able to get an email address to contact you about a broken link on your site. Please email me back and I would be happy to point them out to you.