Showing posts with label jeff buckley. Show all posts
Showing posts with label jeff buckley. Show all posts

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Capturing the Accident (Culture - Pierre Bonnard, The Late Interiors, Film - In a Lonely Place, Books - Treasure Island)

The Raggazo and I celebrated our anniversary yesterday with a trip to the Metropolitan Museum to see Pierre Bonnard: The Late Interiors and have drinks on the mezzanine afterward. Although the atmosphere of their Friday Cafe is nice, for the price their artisanal cheese plate could have featured something other than colby. I'm not five. It's New York City, can't you find any good cheese? The show, on the other hand, was wonderful. It allows you to wander through the development of his interiors over about a thirty year period, its satisfying to see how his depiction of color, form, and light enriched over that time. What I liked best about the paintings was his ability to capture the accidental feel of the placement of objects on a table, the posture of his wife as she feeds the dog, or the sudden awareness of someone of themselves in a mirror. The feeling of a candid photo of a day at home - except in paint. It's interesting to see over and over again, how his interest was with the form of a table against the view out of a window, or the angle of light on the half-opened door of a room. People were usually off to the side, never posing, and with the exception of his self-portraits, they are usually painted in the color of the background. I value that ability to court the accident in art more than perhaps any other quality. I love it in acting, in directing, in painting and in words. That's why I like the poems of Frank O'Hara, the acting of Geraldine Page or Billy Cruddup, the singing of Jeff Buckley, and it's what I really loved about this show, which is on at the Met through April 19.

Also in the world of the arts, the library finally came up with a copy of the 1950 Humphrey Bogart film In a Lonely Place, a recommendation of Sheila's, 'natch. It's an unusual film for the time - the writing has an elegant feel to it, yet it is about uncontrollable passion. Bogart is a volatile and cynical screen writer who finally meets a woman he cares for when he is suspected of murder of a young coat check girl who was seen leaving a restaurant with him. Bogie gets to show both a more refined side of himself and a more vulnerable one, and he gives a really terrific performance. It has a couple of very suspenseful scenes and it does not suffer from a typical Hollywood ending. Highly recommended!

And, inspired by Verbivore, I pulled some Robert Louis Stevenson off the shelf after I finished Damon Galgut's The Imposter. I began re-reading Treasure Island for the first time since I was a child. I'm experiencing a fun, cozy, kid-reading-in-bed nostalgia that's a welcome contrast to studying for exams and writing papers.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Elvis Costello on Jeff Buckley

For any of you interested in the work of Jeff Buckley, or who enjoyed the remembrances Sheila or I posted a few weeks ago of attending his Green Mill concert, or his singing of Dido's Lament, I just couldn't resist linking you to this anecdote by Elvis Costello.

His work is an obsession, I won't apologize - take it or leave it.

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Jeff Buckley - Dido's Lament

Jeff Buckley Lament, as promised

Lament for a Genius - (Jeff Buckley - Live at the Green Mill)

My friend Sheila over at The Sheila Variations had a great memorial post to Jeff Buckley the great rock troubadour, who died ten years ago, remembering a concert she and I attended together at the Green Mill in Chicago. Not only the best live performance I've ever attended -period - but most influential one for me as a an acting teacher and director. My memory of that great evening was that it started with a depressed woman with very talented hair singing songs of doom to open the show. Every bit of her exuded gloom - her diction was depressed, her outfit was depressed, never mind the songs. She invited JB up on stage to do the final song with her. He reluctantly gave up his position at the bar where he'd been drinking a too much tequila, still in his overcoat, slunk up to the stage, and sat on the floor with his back to us so that she would have the limelight for the end of her set.

When JB and his band got up on stage they tuned and suddenly photographers were everywhere, shooting pictures which made Buckley very self conscious. I should just say that I'm going to take the liberty of imagining some of the thing's Buckley thought, and I could be way off. The tour was for the release of his then new album - Grace. He riffed vocally for a while with no words - just 'ah' - until they stopped taking pictures, he seemed to hate the photographs, The first several songs he could not find his footing, he would sing a piece from the album and would feel it was lifeless and just moan to us "God this sucks. I'm so sorry. I wish I could give you all your money back." It was agonizing to watch. He was a performer that was all about being with the music at this one moment in time that would never come again. His tour was about publicity and performing the same pieces over and over again like he did on the recording, but because he'd said some stupid thing to Rolling Stone or MTV - some really influential media outlet in music they threatened would cost him any future publicity- he was kicking himselft and censoring himself and just couldn't get past it. He was not meeting his own standards. He apologized after every one of the first few songs and then, I believe it was on Leonard Cohen's Halleluiah, he started the song and then quieted the band and began riffing a capella - I believe it was on the line "it's a cold and it's a broken Halleluiah" - I think he just couldn't stand not being with the music any more. He improvised for at least five or ten minutes on that phrase until he finally found his way to the moment he was in - disappointed in himself, in the conflict created by career and art, in love with the music, and finding that new moment in a song he's performed 100 times. I've always thought that that was the job of the artist - not just a live performer, but a painter or a writer too. It's the part of the work that is hardest in some ways. I'm obsessed with artists' creative processes, how we awaken ourselves to the moment we're in rather that the moment we think we should be in - because of our artists' expertise - about the right words or the prettiest notes - we get sidetracked and start trying to get out of the lousy moment we're in (which is the actual pay dirt) and instead get to some "better" thing we think should be there to make the song or the character or the sentence good, right, funny, brilliant - or in some way appealing to our vanity. That struggle is a tough one - it's a daily war for an artist - and the thing that always amazed me was that he fought that battle right in front of us. When I think of the really great performers I've seen - Lorraine Hunt Lieberson in concert (Alex Ross at The Rest is Noise who always has great writing on music, has some excellent posts on Hunt Lieberson), Kim Stanley on film, Billy Crudup in Waking the Dead, Geraldine Page in almost anything at all - that's what they all do. It's an act of courage really - to strive to be your imperfect self in front of everyone.

The rest of Buckley's concert was like being under a spell. It's sad that there is not more music to be heard from him, more of that haunting voice, great taste in songs (he sang Pink Floyd like Rock ballads, Edith Piaf, Benjamin Britten - stupendous stuff), and that we can't see him continue to wage that battle. I'm sure it would have been beautiful.

And what is more fitting than having him sing his own lament (let's see if I can figure out how to post this recording and slide show). Hah! I've succeeded, it's above. "Remember me, but ah, forget my fate." How apt.