Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Little Feat “Dixie Chicken”

You can go on and on all you want about the nobility of artistic pursuits, and yes, I suppose you are right, there is something noble about the “pursuit.” But let’s face it, the artistic life is a daily slog against indignity upon indignity.

You could be the Juliard trained actor, who becomes typecast as “that guy in the talking Hot Dog commercial.”

Or the brilliant but undiscovered novelist who’s paying off his English degree, writing obituaries for the newspaper.

Or the budding fashion designer, who’s hired to make a line of sweatpants.

Sometimes, as creative and as talented as you might be, you will need to use your talents in the most common, unimaginative way possible, to be able to pay the bills.

Which is how a musician ends up at a piano bar.

Sure, I bet he took years of music lessons, spent countless hours practicing, played in bands, wrote original music, and made demo tapes, propelled by a dream of being a recording artist or a sessions man or a composer.

Instead, he was in a Key West bar, taking requests for Jimmy Buffett cover after Jimmy Buffett cover after Jimmy Buffett cover.

I watched him working for every dollar, trying find some life in the songs he’d probably sung a million times, probably sang every day, probably weren’t intended to be played as solo piano songs (“Fins”? I think not).

And the requests were crushingly banal. “Piano Man.” “Margaritaville.” “The Pina Colada Song.” And the dispiriting (ignored) requests for “Freebird.”

I don’t want to sound like my idea is the most original in the world either, but I will tell you that the look on his face was worth the five bucks I put in his jar, before he ever played a note of “Dixie Chicken.”

Clearly, it was a respite from the predictable requests of the day. Clearly he loved Little Feat. And clearly, he was going to wring every note out of this favored request.

Little Feat can stretch out a song, and this guy was going to take full advantage of that leeway. He sang with gusto. He wandered down noodling musical alleyways, circling back to the melody before he had fully lost the crowd (most of whom didn’t likely know the song anyway). He made the most of his mini-vacation, before returning to his reality of having to play “Your Song” for the hundred-thousandth time.

But hey, when you have given your life to artistic pursuits, five dollars worth of dignity is more than enough to carry you through to the next day.

Check out this awesome live TV appearance, featuring Bonnie Raitt, Emmylou Harris and Jesse Winchester!

No comments:

Post a Comment