Monday, August 24, 2009

It Might Get Loud, Indeed

Matthew, Chris (two of my sons) and I went and saw "It Might Get Loud" -- a fascinating patchwork of history, viewpoints, concert footage and a present day guitarist pow-wow featuring Jimmy Page of Led Zeppelin and Yardbirds fame, Jack White of The White Stripes and The Raconteurs, and The Edge from U2. The film was nicely done as it bounced around between the three personalities representing three generations of rock guitarists and their influences, recollections, various guitars and equipment, artistic distinctions and philosophies. As the audience, it was easy to appreciate the three very different musicians - the white hair, the black hair and the no hair.

It was nice to see each man stripped down to his own equipment, telling his own stories and stating his own unique points-of-view. After it was over (it was inspiring), I was struck again by the way any true artist, no matter what media he or she is working in, is a product of their decision to make a total commitment to their art and then follow wherever that should lead them. As each man in the film looked back, it was easy to see that they could not possibly have known that their love of music would take them to high places of fame and fortune. Nevertheless, they poured themselves into their craft, their influences, and their opportunities (large and small) with the result that each came up with a history quite unlike the other yet remarkably connected by a love for what six strings can produce. As Babbette says at the end of the movie "Babbette's Feast": "In the heart of every artist there is a cry: let me do my best!"

Whether it is wordsmithing, musicianship, visual or performing arts, or what-have-you, the need to sacrifice in order to produce something truly lasting and unique never changes. It is so easy to tell the difference between an truly devoted artist and a hack performer. Artists have a commitment as vivid as the blood stains left on Jack White's instrument after playing some particularly energetic shows while the hacks, well, they just go for the cheapest rewards. I know there are others (such as athletes) who understand this kind of unfettered commitment. It is always inspiring to drink in that spirit. That's why I found it worthwhile to spend time with my boys hanging out (on film) with these three musical craftsmen as they allowed us to see behind their stage personas.

I thought it was great for Matthew (who is learning the bass and getting into bands like Led Zeppelin and Rush) and Chris (who has long loved music and the arts) to sit with me and enjoy seeing "It May Get Loud". I recommend it for anyone who needs a refreshing dose of artistic inspiration!

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