Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Beauty to brokenness

     I'd never heard of McPherson guitars before I went to see Trace Bundy play at the Old Town School of Folk Music last October. There's no reason why I should; I'm not keeping careful track of music in general or guitars in particular. I wouldn't have noticed these were any different but for their distinctive bean-shaped, off-center sound holes.
     Bundy played an easygoing, virtuosic set, which had him keeping time to himself by beating on the body of the guitar, and deploying, then tossing away, a variety of capos, which otherwise were perched on the head of the guitar like splayed fingers, making the guitars look a little like Struwwelpeter's hands. He mentioned that the black guitar was made of carbon composite, which seemed something new.
     Before introducing his last song, "Joy & Sorrow," he said something along the lines of "There is a deep beauty to brokenness."
     At which point, his guitar somehow failed—I wasn't sure if it was the microphone pick-up, or what, but he tried to shift to the second one, and that failed too. The audience couldn't hear.
     So he shifted to a different song and played it acoustically, without amplification. And he was right, there was a deep beauty to it, though not the one intended. I don't blame the guitars, which can run up to $20,000 a throw. Sometimes things go right by going wrong. Assuming it wasn't all part of the act. If it was, we fell for it.


  1. “””So he shifted to a different song and played it acoustically, without amplification. And he was right, there was a deep beauty to it, though not the one intended.”””

    A man,
    a wooden box,
    long board glued to one end,
    gut strings stretched across:
    Bach Suites for Unaccompanied Cello,
    Proof of God’s Existence,

    electronic media,
    a seductive, yet degrading whore:

    face to face,
    the warmth of conversation,
    the softness of skin,
    the sweetness of kisses.

  2. Jimmy Page would have liked that guitar.

  3. The number “pi” and the Euler Number “e” – did they exist before human beings?

    What is this “DEEP BEAUTY” of which you speak?

    Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony and Bach’s Suites for Unaccompanied cello and Coltrane’s My Favorite Things: Merely a fulfillment of a biological imperative? Better than Mary Had a Little Lamb? A mere matter of convention?

    Beauty, love, friendship –that transcendent worm in the apple

  4. I don't know about beauty in brokenness, but the attractiveness of imperfection has been celebrated by poets. Notably, Robert Herrick observed:
    "A sweet disorder in the dress
    Kindles in clothes a wantonness"
    and concluded:
    "A careless shoestring in whose tie
    I see a wild civility
    Do more bewitch me than when art
    Is too precise in every part."

    And then there were the Gershwin brothers:

    "The way you wear your hat.
    The way you sing off key.
    The memory of all that.
    No, no they can't take that away from me."


    1. Yep. It's like loving Neil Young. Which I do.

    2. Psychedelic Pill is kick-ass driving music. You can cover a lot of miles with that CD. Check out his first memoir. Fascinating.

  5. Speaking of broken. It does not bother me, having to go to the SunTimes site to read the entire piece, since they paid for it. What I do find irritating is their site fighting my attempts to return to yours.


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