Rule #1: Pursue hints of unexpected pleasure. Rule #2: relax. These rules are applicable to both life and musical interpretation.
Two nights ago, at dinner, a lovely bartenderess. Same bartenderess (go figure!) shows up at coffee joint while I am blogging yesterday, chats me up. I took the hint, and invited her to join us for drinks/dinner last night, and there she proposes going to hear some zydeco being played at the Boone Saloon. FANTASTIC! I discovered the real reason to come to Boone. I watched people totally consumed with pleasure: good old (and young) country boys, whose faces seemed at first reticent and reserved, began to stomp the floor with contagious musicality and abandon, with unmistakable unfeignable joy in life; and the girls were bouncier, a little goofier, floating all sorts of hilarious and eclectic moves around them... I remember thinking I have never enjoyed a dominant-seventh chord more (it was prolonged so long, almost like Tristan and Isolde). Though it was a bar, the music and the dancing were clearly the main thing, much more so in some ways than in the classical concert hall, where the focus is enforced. I don't want this to be another "I wish classical music were more unbuttoned" post, but .... what can I say? I wish classical music were more unbuttoned, but only in a certain, not vulgar way. (Carnegie Hall, but with pool tables?) The Boone Saloon didn't feel vulgar at all, though the floor was sticky with spilled beer and people wore wide-brimmed cowboy hats and there was a hefty mean-looking bouncer at the door: not even seedy, just: real. I think it was the music that did this, that made the space perfect. It was fantastic to watch the violinist too, who looked completely uninvolved, almost moronic; his bow arm barely seemed to move; and yet his playing was super-energetic, uplifting. There's a lesson for my own piano playing in there. I followed both rules above by the way: I pursued the hints, against better judgement, and I got an unexpected pleasure, and my elation relaxed me.
To quote (or rather paraphrase) Alex Ross, "there is no specifically musical reason for including" the following, but it seemed noteworthy. As last night's bartenderess (which is not same as earlier bartenderess) served us our appetizers, she regaled us with a tale of tooth damage. An old chipped tooth had become rechipped, and she had gone to the dentist to have it repaired. Lest this not be sufficient detail, she drew us a diagram (no, this is true, this actually happened) on a cocktail napkin, which we could study next to our bruschetta:
Magnificent. Especially the way she scribbled horribly with the pen, nearly tearing the napkin in two, to indicate the irritated part of her tongue. I have tried to simulate this, as best I can, with my laptop trackpad. Why did this dose of dental reality not turn me off as I sat at the rather fancy bar, preparing to eat? It seemed merely hilarious and not disgusting. This would never happen in New York; nor would the repair of said tooth cost a mere $22 (I am not kidding, that is what she paid). Have I seen people dance like that in New York either? I have to admit I will play the last movement of the Brahms A major Piano Quartet quite differently tonight, with a little hillbilly in my gypsy.