polling the artists: question 1 part 2

So here we go, polling the artists, question 1 part 2!! woot.  Starting with the talented Illustrator Darryl Graham, (and probably the longest sentence we've seen here at BTTTF).  

There have been so many artists and pieces of art that helped me stay interested in art, and sort of direct me to the path I'm on now and there will be many more that continue to engage me and reaffirm that, yes, I want to be a part of the artistic world.  But the very first image that made me want to start this path I saw when I was 4 years old, and that, my friends, was the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.  Maybe my favourite show growing up.  I drew those turtles relentlessly and got better and better at it which triggered family and friends to give me encouragement.  You can ask any of my elementary school teachers, the all knew what I'd grow up to be.  

Trying to peg that singular transformative influence is a rather situational question for me (and most people, I imagine);  it kind of depends when you ask, and the kind of mood you're in.  Having said that, I'll go with my man of the moment, Geoff Berner, who whould surely be a contender for this title most any time of day.  Whether Mr. Berner has set me on my path, or is rather someone whose music and philosophy seem absolutely determined on a regular basis to push me off of whatever path it is that I may have misguidedly wandered onto, I am undecided.  The whisky-soaked "klezmer-punk" road trodden by Mr. Berner himself is a wayward one indeed, and as acid as it is fiercely compassionate, but for me it's a constant reminder that there's nothing particularly mystical about transcendence-- It's more about sticking to the commonplaces that certain things will always rise to the top; cream, pond scum, and most kinds of crap

It was 4 am, I was 15 or 16 and the TV was on, screaming out a cheap action movie.  I wasn't interested in the story, so I just started to watch the cuts.  How it was put together, the shots working or resisting one another.  Then I focused on the sound heightening the experience, then the music running underneath like veins.  I felt the mechanics of the film.  I had an epiphany, bleary eyed, but an epiphany none the less.  I can do that.  At 17 I saw "Slacker" by Richard Linklater and I couldn't believe that you could just follow everybody in the film telling framents of their stories leaving a character to find another.  It was so freeing.  I realized that everybody had a story.  After those two experiences, I started watching everything with the optic that I could make films and that everybody had a story that could be told. 

It's hard to narrow it down to one piece of art or artist.  I think what sent me along my current path is the result of about fifteen years of apprenticeship in the art of pop music, plus a whole whack of genetics.  There have been a few definitive moments though, here's one.
I was about 14, house sitting for a friend of my parents' in the country in late summer.  This friend had a beautiful old farmhouse, and a wicked vinyl collection.  So, looking for something to listen to, I put on a record I'd never heard before: "Music from the Big Pink", by the Band.  Listening to the first few bars of "tears of Rage"-- played LOUD on big, old fashioned speakers-- bowled me over. I couldn't believe how much soul there was in every single element of the song-- Dylan's brilliant lyrics, Richard Manuel's heartrending vocals, and the weird carnivalesque funeral dirge accompaniment.  I listened to the whole album again and again, until it was engraved in my memory.  it remains in my All Time Top Five, and it's had a huge influence on the way I approach music.  

There are a lot of bands, songs and albums that make up who I am as a musician.  The first song I learned to sing was "Breakfast in America" by Supertramp.  The first time I imagined myself onstage was singing along to Led Zeppelin.  The first song I learned on guitar was probably "Cry Baby Cry" by the Beatles.  But the really life altering piece of art for me is Radioheads "Ok Computer".  I can tell you the exact moment that made me stop and say "Yup"... (cause I say that)... "Yup, this is what I want to do for a living!"  It happens at exactly 3:41 into "Paranoid Android".... put it on and give it a listen.... go ahead..... I'll wait.... I'll just amuse myself with these sexy playing cards....  So for those of you who don't have the album (or the patience to go through your collection, que up Paranoid Android, and listen for 3 and a half minutes), There is a guitar shot.  The whole band hits on beat one... and stops for the rest of the bar... then comes back in on the 1 again... It was that unexpected teaser.... the type of audacity I hadn't heard yet in music.  Not to diminish the rest of the album.  Ok Computer is the closest thing to a perfect album I've ever heard.  Every song works.  From the frantic opening riff of "Airbag" to the final chime of a triangle on "the Tourist", the never falter.  I ramble cause it still gets me excited.  Everytime someone says that "Nevermind" is the greatest album of the 90;s, I wanna punch them in the junk and then play "Ok Computer" for them again.  (Nevermind isn't even the best album by Nirvana, let alone the best of the decade)...
But what do I know?  I just downloaded the entire catalog of ELO.  


Lesley Denford said...

I'm gonna need to get me some more Radiohead cd's and hear that part of Paranoid Android. I'm curious to hear your epiphany moment...

And I love all the answers that everyone has come up with for this question. There's some awesome inspiration and insight here!

Shawn William Clarke said...

yeah, I was really impressed with the answers I got. Good work everyone!!

DavidJonPearce said...

nothing wrong with ELO

Shawn William Clarke said...

Thanks David! I appreciate your ELO solidarity!