The Perpetual Three-Dot Column
The Perpetual Three-Dot Column
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by Jesse Walker

Wednesday, June 07, 2006
DAVID BYRNE ON ART AND AUTHENTICITY:
In the West, anyway, the causal link between the author and performer is strong. For instance, it is assumed that I write lyrics (and the accompanying music) for songs because I have something I need to "express." And that as a performer it is assumed that everything one utters is naturally autobiographical. I find that more often, on the contrary, it is the music and the lyric that trigger the emotion within me rather than the other way around. By making music, we are pushing our own buttons, in effect, and the surprising thing is that vocals that we didn't write or even sing can make us feel a gamut of emotions just as much as ones that we wrote. In a way making music is contructing machines that, when successful, dredge up emotions -- in us and in the listener. Some people find this idea repulsive, for it seems to relegate the artist to the level of trickster, manipulator, deceiver. They would prefer that music be an "expression" of emotion rather than a generator of it, to believe in the artist as someone with something to "say." This queasiness is connected with the idea of authenticity as well; that, for example, musicians who "appear" down-home must be more real. It is disillusioning to find out that rock and roll is an act and no regular folk in Nashville really wear hats.
(from the liner notes to
My Life in the Bush of Ghosts, 25th anniversary edition)


posted by Jesse 10:39 AM
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