Thursday, August 10, 2006

At the Hollywood Bowl

The Art of Listening

Ellie and I were guests last night in a fabulous box at the Hollywood Bowl. We sat under--well, I spotted a couple of stars (the night sky variety--as we enjoyed a wonderful picnic with friends, drank a glass of wine, and listened to some of the best jazz musicians that you're likely to hear. Herbie Hancock was the headliner. An extraordinary musician. I especially loved the compelling musical webs spun by Joshua Redman in the evening's opening act.

But I have to admit that I'm no music critic, Bush. I'm certainly none too knowledgeable about jazz. If I could find the right words, I'd try to describe the enchantment of the music, the sophistication of its rhythmic and melodic patterns, its lyrical delicacy or at times its sheer, all-engulfing power. But I lack the words, Bush. I'm a hopeless duffer when it comes to musical anything. So let's just say that I was amazed, rapt, totally delighted by the experience.

One thing I did come away with: that it's all about listening. And I don't mean just the audience. I watched the musicians listen intently to each other as they played. There was no inattention. When one was off on a solo riff, I noticed how the others paid close attention--not only out of courtesy and respect for the other's work, though that was evident, too--but I thought out of a sense of musical necessity, in order to know themselves where to go next, what mood to pick up and elaborate on, what rhythmic progression to pursue, what melody to follow with their variations.

Out of the many, ome. E pluribus... etcetera. You know that piece of Latin, Bush, I'm sure. You're the uniter, remember? The only way that's achieved in music--aside, of course, from following the score--is through the art of paying attention with the eyes and listening with the ears. Something to learn there, Bush, for all of us. I know I've harped on a bit about this with you in the past, but it seems particularly important at the moment, with diplomacy the only, thin thread of hope left in the Middle East, to listen to the other players in this dreadful, unrelenting cacophony of violence and hatred.

I answered an online questionnaire yesterday, Bush, from a fellow-blogger who will be reviewing our book, "The Real Bush Diaries." The last question in the series asked what I would wish to advise you if I miraculously had your ear. And the word I used was that simple one: listen. We love to hear ourselves talk (okay, okay, I'll cop to it: me too!) and I'm sure those jazz musicians love to get off on their own virtuosity when they play. But the best of them must realize, along with the best of actors, that the first key to success is not the ability to perform, but the ability to listen.

2 comments:

David said...

Well, he does listen to some people. Remember that box shape on his back during the debates?

Karl? Karl? I'm losing you...

GringoWithoutBorders said...

He does not listen to mere mortals, only to the almighty. To bad it is the tooth fairy that is whispering in his ear.

Actually, does not his born-again(that term always reminds me that many of these so-called environmentalsts are merely those who already have their house in the forest) religion dream of the day when some violent god comes and destroys the world or kills everyone that does not believe as they do? Crazy stuff.

Here is a question. I do not remember democracy anywhere in the Christian Bible, in fact I would say democracy is against the bible as democracy is based on the human desires of the majority, not gods law. I'm not sure Jesus would admire the American culture or its democracy. What say you?