I didn't post last week mostly because I didn't really have anything to post about. 95% of my waking life is about my pen name project or the small press I'm bringing online.
Then, while cooking--I always listen to music if I'm doing more than popping something into the microwave--my Rhapsody playlist (set on shuffle) pulled up a Beth Hart song, and I knew what I wanted to post about.
I've always seen one important difference between entertainers and artists (in all artistic fields). What I'm doing right now with my pen name is entertainment. I'm not trying to make people think. I am not flexing my writing skill. I'm selling people pure escapism. When I work under my real name, it's a different story. I'm trying to get under people's skin, into their heads, make them question and experience and feel things they normally couldn't outside of very specific and short-lived moments in a human life.
I'm not ragging on entertainers, mind you. Like I said, that's what I am right now most of my waking hours. But listening to Beth Hart belt out--and I do mean BELT OUT--a song reminds me of the power behind an artist.
For those of you who don't really know who I'm talking about, Beth Hart hit the mainstream briefly with LA Song (video and everything) off the album Screamin For My Supper. I fell in love with that song as much as anyone, but it's not the best example of what she's really capable of.
So I'm going to post two youtube vids of songs that make me literally shiver and cry when I hear them, for different reasons.
The first video is for the song Skin. Who can't identify with themes of shame and self-debasement (with a strong theme of survival and defiance under that)? My favorite lyrics...listen for these:
For never is my name
Forever in my shame
For never is my name... That's a twist of words that I can just roll around in my head. I'll probably write fiction inspired by that someday.
Here is a live performance of Beth Hart singing Skin:
The second song is Mama, also off Screamin for My Supper. This has been one of my favorite songs since I first heard it, but it took on deeper meaning for me after my mother died suddenly and under difficult circumstances in 2007. I was blessed with a strong, supportive mother, and this song reminds me of her. Plus, dammit, have you ever heard anyone hit notes with the kind of passion and power you hear in this performance at about the 4 minute mark? My favorite lyrics (from two places in the song):
And she'd come to me
When fire and water was gone
To caress the empty with a song
And she comes to me
When there's nothing I believe
To caress the empty... That's a concept I can feel.
Here is a live performance of Mama (girl can perform live!):
So what do you guys think? The closest thing we have to Joplin walking on the earth? You have other singers who can grab you by the spine and shake you hard with the sheer power of their voice and lyrics? Do share.