Young geeky guy with big black rimmed glasses wearing a bathrobe holding an electric guitar in a room with two wooden stools

Beauty and trance and grace--are you getting near the amount you need?

As Keith Richards has said, everybody needs some trance in their daily lives. Same for the other two artistic virtues. Our impoverished inner worlds are thirsting, dehydrated as they are of these not-so abstract elements. I am very sure of this, adamantly so. Wanna fight about it, Zippy?

I didn't think so.

The other day I was at my usual haunt, Luck Brothers coffee house, waking up around noon, gazing out the window as the house blend was working its stimulative magic on my consciousness. Todd the Lad had a mostly brilliant mix playing as he usually does, partially instrumental, some vocals, mellow...when it happened.

I became part of the sound painting.

I was a water color...bluish...a la Matisse or Van Gogh...mos def French Impressionistic...I was floating...I was neither awake nor asleep...nor being nor not being...I felt as timeless as Pinocchio and as silent as Helen Keller scuba diving at the bottom of the Marianas Trench....the artist's brushstroke I was made a color both meaningful and meaningless....I swear to goodness time stopped for how long I don't know...usually a sensation which only happens when a gun is pointed at me...

This was entirely the opposite of trauma, though--it was pure transitory ephemeral pleasure. Listening to Paul Desmond's alto sax on his version of Taste of Honey, I found myself carried away, lightly. This was the most transcendent non-sensational sensation I'd experienced since reading Arthur C. Clarke's 1953 science fiction classic Childhood's End in 10th grade study hall. Peaceful aliens gave us utopia for the mere price of identity and culture loss. I tripped out on that for weeks.

Desmond's music took nothing, gave everything and he did his best work in the 1950s with Dave Brubeck. He's nothing if not a damned good cuppa coffee I'd say.

Is that to say we've overlooked the '50s transcendent with mesmerizing beauty? Apparently so.

Funny thing, for the song's five minutes of subtle still-life artistry during which I zoned into a wordless musical lyricism, at the same time the playground across the street was teeming with the wild four-year-old energy. Strange experience--not necessarily stoned...but caffeinated...Paul Desmond--never ever go an autumnal noon without daydreaming out a clear-day's window and listening to a man who cared so little for money or fame. He wrote perhaps the most profitable jazz standard in history--Take Five--and cut the International Red Cross in on the profit in perpetuity.

 Now that's putting your money where your heart is.

 In the meantime, there's plenty of soul-stealing musical beauty to be had in our ever-gently-trotting three-horse town.

 A few weeks ago I saw guitarists Brett Burleson and Stan Smith play a guitar duo set at the Grandview Public Library that had me shaking my head slowly in almost-disbelieving awe. These two-generational-types played long lost standards and obscurities with quiet guitars the likes of which had me reliving my first Joe Pass/Herb Ellis experience. It restored my faith in the power of hollow-bodied guitars to make you forget what an ugly world we often live in.

 Or the next time you're in front of Sean Carney and his musical family/blood-brothers The Joint Rockers, stick around long enough for 'em to hit their Fats Domino stride. Carney who is nothing if not one of this town's most knowledgeable proponents and practitioners of 1950s R'n'B feels it, knows it and plays it better than probably any living soul within Franklin Country corporation limits. Seeing him and them at the India Oaks over the summer after having seen them twice in the first quarter of the year at Mudflat's in Galena has solidified the quintet as the best soul act we got.

 And hot-felt soulful soul carries its own deep meaning: have heart, will move. Nothing exists so beautiful as a well-oiled soul band in rhythmic ecstasy. What God meant to happen between the holiest of grooves between a man and a woman has produced the great music known to man--the Afro-American soul music experience.

 As for more Saturday night beauty, the last time I heard Rick Collura and his Blue Cats play Dylan's Tonight I'll Be Staying Here With You.

 OK, I'm on a roll. If you have ever thought I might have a suggested piece of music that just might turn your day to gold, please here my plea: ladies and gentlemens of the juke-box jury, you have got to check out two songs by the undeservedly obscure Nick Waterhouse.

 This boy has three albums out and the two tunes of his that battle each other for ownership of my brain when I awake are retro-Tiki-r'n'b-ish classics: It No. 3 and Katchi, both damn sexy minimalist soul bouts. I include 'em in my grace/trance/sender of vibrations because they are so uniquely zen in their deceptively smoove groove, virtual lighthouses beckoning sex without the shoals. Rhythm supreme, thy name is Whiteboy Waterhouse.

 Which brings us back to Keith Richards, a man who certainly is anything but grace-inducing to look at. But as Jon Pareles wrote nearly 40 years in a NYT article I had above my desk in Singin' Dog's basement--a subterranean place that saw more than its fair share of shape-shifting transcendence--Richards possessed 'guerrilla grace." The intro to Gimme Shelter ? The song's magnificent throb? The samba of Sympathy For The Devil? You didn't dance beneath the diamond sky with your teen-aged brain waving free? Never too late, baby.

 I suppose you could say I'm for a daydream nation. I suppose I am. Nobody ever died of or got killed from daydreaming--unless they did it on railroad tracks or driving a car. Still, night driving is exactly that. I take my motorcycle out for a 9 p.m. spin every night without fail, no matter the temperature. It feels beautiful, hurtling without consequence for a half an hour and I always sleep better.

 Look, I'm unapologetic about my love of the Rolling Stones who still mean a great deal to a great many people. You've got to see Ole! Ole! Ole!, the documentary of their recent South American tour. It rained like hell on their stadium show in Sao Paulo, Brazil, 2016.

But the super-slow-motion sequence of the white rain coming down in sheets with the front three Stones bathed in dark blue lights as they twirl and emote is spectacular. Human musical performance energy has never been so stunning, near-breathtakingly captured.

Truth comes in many colors, sometimes wordless, sometimes timeless. Always worth it.


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