Tim Hinck's thoughts on music and life- There is a lady living across the street from me. She is dying of cancer. I have never seen anyone so full of life and energy. She loves to work outside in the flowers and grass of her yard. I can see her savoring every sunny day... the way she stands up from planting a flower bulb with such satisfaction on her face and claps the dirt from her gloves with resolution. I want to be like that lady.

Location: Schalkwijk, Utrecht, Netherlands

Friday, October 20, 2006

The Man Comes Around

(jeremiah smith: world traveler, and the greatest pal ever.... window in Cambodia)

..I've recently made some new friends here in the Netherlands: Dan Stinebring (brilliant science professor); his wife Lynn Powell (you really need to read her first book of poetry); their talented and insightful daughter Anna-Claire, and rock-addicted son Jesse (who is my new climbing buddy, fellow explorer, and partner in crime). So the kids share my passion for 'non-mainstream' music, and the other day Johnny Cash came up in a random conversation with Jesse. As a music-consuming public, we are often so absorbed with the extra-musical facets of the Johnny Cash icon. And I must admit that I first really fell in love with his last album (the same album that had Emo-kids lining up along with the Indie crowd to jump on the bandwagon and rediscover 'The Man'). But the other day I was reading the CD reviews in the NewYorkTimes and found a reference to the boot-legged 1969 recording that Johnny Cash made with Bob Dylan in Nashville.

After putting my computer through an all-night, on-line battle with other computers across the world, fighting my way up the download queues... I finally nabbed the album. What I discovered (or was reminded of) was probably the most important facet of Johnny Cash. Sure he had drug problems, and women problems, and a soul torn between darkness and religion. But sometimes we're forgetting that the man just wanted to make music, and he had a blast doing it, too. The Nashville recording is rough at best. It sounds mostly like an early rehearsal caught on tape. But what you do get to hear is Johnny Cash - the tall, dark, icon of a man - laughing and making mistakes and singing his heart out for the sheer pleasure of it.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Stories that Write Themselves

You will hear lots of gossip about stories that write themselves. What is this all about? How is it that a bunch of words can get so out of hand as to start writing themselves?

"Easily", you say. "A good story is one that progresses so naturally from its opening through its katharsis and conclusion that even an uninspired dolt could scratch its details onto paper."

My mind wanders as you say this, and I imagine some guy sitting in the back corner of a bar chasing one thick, black coffee with another desperately scribbling like some scribe in the service of his ruthless kaiser: the Honorable Great Twenty-First Century Novel... every line dictating the next as if written in stone and sealed with royal-edict certainty or gospel truth. I can't imagine a thing more frighful and ugly than this. What if our poor friend the scribe should revolt? What if he should sit back and have a cigar and decide to change Chapter 2. His hero is about to witness the savage beating of a young boy on a crowded street in Bogota after bumping into a pair of jumpy, green-clad policemen. This should have quite an impact on the hero, what with his own childhood memories of abuse. But instead of sending his hero to the rescue, our scribe decides to turn his hero around, march him into the nearest pub, give him too many drinks, and send him home to beat on his own son in a drunken rage.

"AH-HA!" you interupt me. "But the scribe is still submiting to the Story-Kaiser. The story itself deservs credit for presenting the possibilities for each of these brilliant deviations."

How terrible! What an awful thought! To be an artist is to be a slave to the muse. Are we all merely pawns who exist solely to construct a world that Art can inhabit and imbody? Instead of decorating our world with art, you are suggesting a world in which Art would direct our processes and, in turn, 'decorate' us. What of my authorship?

You shake your head, "Friend, it is indeed more about YOU than you will ever know. It is about reshaping YOU through art."