Saturday, April 12, 2003

Scent of Obsession

Despite being a rather daredevilish type of fellow, I'm not going to replace Ben Affleck anytime soon but I always figured that if I was going to be a superhero my most sensitive sense has always been my sense of smell. Out of the blue I'll sometimes get a whiff of something that will dig up a long buried deeply hidden memory, and just for a moment I'll be transported to another time, another place. As much as I rely on my sight, touch, and taste, none of those tend to have that type of power over my heart. But I beginning to wonder if my ears aren't right up there with my nose. And we're not talking anatomically speaking.

Sitting in the airport watching and listening to things around me I overheard a conversation behind me about a high school hockey player who got a Division 1 scholarship from St. Cloud State. Peterson I believe the gentleman behind me said the kid's name was. The more he talked the more I listened, not because I care a whit about Division 1 hockey (particularly St. Cloud State) but because the man was talking in a familiar voice- both in it's cadence and it's timbre. I said to myself that it sounded an awful lot like Kevin McHale (who always sounded an awful lot like Gerald O'Keefe, my brother's best friend in junior high). I craned my neck and had to crane it some more because indeed it was Mr. McHale, with his familiar Frankenstein like noggin sitting about three feet above my own.

I amazed myself by recognizing McHale's voice from behind me but maybe I recognized it because my antenna was already up, primed to hear the voice of an artist that is in my pantheon of musicians.

Fittingly as I was waiting for my flight I had been planning on listening to the new Lucinda Williams CD I had picked up the day before. I was anxious to really listen to the disc because the only chance I had to listen to it the day before was at work, turned down real low on my PC and I couldn't much make out the words, which is kind of a major drawback when listening to Lucinda. But nonetheless her voice, that sometimes twangy, often times sultry and always vulnerable (but in an aggressive way) always gets me and listening to the music turned way down still had its impact on me.

The most impressive thing about World Without Tears is that the most impressive thing is her voice. It has never sounded better, more full of ache and sorrow, more raw and tender. I could listen to the disc no matter what words she is singing- just for the sound of her singing. But of course as one of the better lyricists around, that would be selling the CD criminally short.

My favorite Lucinda fan has been all over Europe the past few weeks. Copenhagen, Athens, Prague, the southern part of France it sounds like quite the trip. And I thought it was a big step for me just to fly to Colorado Springs for a two-day seminar. There's an accurate photograph of our friendship somewhere in that juxtaposition. There's also a multitude of reasons why I can't wait for her to get back but one of the most important is I can't wait for her to hear World Without Tears because I know she'll appreciate the music as much as me and I dying to hear her impressions.

But alas she was halfway across the world and I was a stranger in a strange town trying to learn all about the new federal election law changes. I couldn't help thinking when sitting in that big conference room for hours that I just wanted to be back in my hotel room with its breathtaking view of Pikes Peak listening to the new Lucinda disc, and the new Jayhawks disc, the new Rosanne Cash disc, and the new disc featuring various artists covering Dylan's gospel songs (I have an aunt in Colorado who recently told my sister she had never heard of Bob!) knowing that there was probably few in the room who even had heard these artists let alone know anything about their music. Somehow for me the inspiring new work from some of our best artists seemed more important than helping America to vote.

I spent most of my time with a group of some my favorite local election officials and one evening I found myself at a Mexican restaurant. The hostess asked us if we wanted to sit out on the patio but some of us were afraid it would be a bit too chilly. When questioned if the patio area was any warmer from the weather we had just walked in from, the delightfully loopy young lass said, "It's the same temperature out back that it is out front." Made a lot of sense to me.

Sitting silently listening to conversations about dogs and cats and drinks and kids, a South Dakotan sarcastically asked me if I was always so talkative. I didn't want to tell her what was really on my mind- the voice from World Without Tears. It's not that I'm anti-social it's just that I didn't think anyone in the group would want to hear a rant best saved for these pages about the great new set of Lucinda songs, from the Patsy Cline-ish "Overtime," the heartbreaking "Those Three Days," and the wickedly sensual "Righteously." Indeed about the only thing on my mind in this not so far away place was the notion that this was the week that I gained a new criteria for any future Mrs. Maeda. After watching Lucinda perform "Righteously" on Leno the other night in a big furry hat, I knew that any future missus of mine would have to look that good in a similar hat- and have to have a voice capable of reaching so far inside.

No comments: