Friday, August 3, 2007

Songs of Suburban Station, Pt. 2

Okay. So, now I'm beginning to realize how many great musicians go unrecognized throughout their careers for one reason or another. Be it geography, age, race, looks, whatever, I am beginning to realize that no matter how good of a guitarist Bob Dylan or Duane Allman is or was, they are only as good as the people who thrust them into the public sphere say they are.

Today, walking through Suburban Station, I saw the greatest violin player I have ever witnessed in my life. The man was playing furiously, his stringy hair hanging in front of his closed eyes, his fingers moving a mile a minute, and his body contorting in a rage of movement as he became the music.

Then, I realized what he was playing.

"Oh, Sherrie" by Steve Perry was a monster hit in 1984; however, this song's popularity was proof of the continued bastardization of the music industry by businessmen, another sign of Orwellian prophecy in a decade that saw the deification of the American dollar and the nation's highest position bestowed upon a B-list actor.

I didn't watch the man for long as I would have been late for work, but what I saw haunted me (enough to write this post at least). It haunted me in the sense that I couldn't tell whether the man was being honest or ironic. After all, he had to have known how he had reached this point in his life. As far as I could tell, he had been trained. The way he played was chaotic but controlled. Was there a point where he had abandoned classical training to play novelty pop from the 1980s? Did he know at that moment that his decision would land him years later in Suburban Station, his playing barely audible between the hustle and bustle of Philadelphia's biggest transportation hub?

Or had he been playing it ironically? Perhaps. Was he nodding toward the desecration of music by white men in business suits who cared more about the "sell" than the passionate and labor-intensive "pitch"? Was he playing to make us suddenly aware that people like Steve Perry are talentless and that the world's true musicians are being ignored? Was he making even more of a comment by playing such a trite and uninteresting song on an instrument that has played the world's most beautiful music for centuries? Or maybe he playing it ironically to the people walking to their mindless and butt-numbing jobs, urging them as tongue-in-cheek as possible, to "hold on".

We will probably never know why he was playing that particular song in that particular place on that particular instrument. This failure to understand motives will not, however, stop me from knowing, in my heart of hearts, that I will never enjoy "Oh, Sherrie" by Steve Perry any more than I did this morning.

1 comment:

wunderkindmta said...

beautifully written and thought-provoking.