Wednesday, January 13, 2010
Speak Soft and Carry a Big Beer
I keep writing prose, but deep down I want to engage my inner poet.
It all comes down to sound, but hell those sounds mean everything. Ever listened to the early Sinatra recordings-- the Columbia years when Axel Stordahl handled the arrangements for the Chairman of the Board. There's a distinct, mature sound after Nelson Riddle worked with Sinatra, Now, of course you might say that Sinatra had changed a bit after those Ava years and while that might be true there was a poetry, cadence, and delivery of those lines that Riddle had brought out of old Blue Eyes. Miles Davis recognized it too.
Where am I going with this you're probably saying? Well, it's simple. I'm listening to the poets. It's one thing to have good lines, it's another thing to deliver them. I also bring in the Sinatra example because he was the first the crooners to really make use of the microphone. A new breed of intimacy arose from the mic that the Broadway belters hadn't yet mastered. I feel it myself when I do a reading and I need break out the old diaphragm. With a mic I can be softer with certain lines, sibilants, fricatives, and the many other sounds in the register. I hate reading from the same sections. I want to be surprised as the crowd might be. But, I've found that when I do this I sometimes out-psych myself and the result is sometimes disasterous.
Preparation is really necessary.
I made a little breakthrough of my own going out of my way slowing down my reading. As a native born New Yorker I have a tendency to race through and into things: streets, taxis, relationships- I really could bore you with the unabridged list. When I read from Shades of Luz at Salvatore's, I had planned to read a longer section, but instead I read a shorter part and tried to nail a different kind of rhythm. I don't think it over all that well. I'm always amazed at what parts people laugh at and at what parts they don't. It seems they aren't laughing at the parts that I deem funny. When they do laugh it doesn't make intuitive sense to me so therefore I conclude they must be laughing at me. Joy of any kind is welcome in any entertainment biz- frankly there isn't enough of the stuff in this world, but self-flogging can take its toll on you if you aren't careful.
I end my set with a humdrum bowl of nuts and crunchies and a tall glass of Black Butte Porter.