Vintage New Orleans
Play It Like It's Music
Bon appetit, sweets.
Warmest greetings to you, wherever you are this January. New York City got down to 18 degrees a couple of days ago. The Ramen was spectacular.
A quick bit of housekeeping:
Many of you have said lately that I should publish more writing, so you’ll see some begin after the jump. This is the first of what I intend to become a weekly email, but it’s not yet going out to the entire list. You’ve been chosen!
As ever, you may unsubscribe at any point with no hard feelings. (You can also hit me back with your thoughts if you got em.)
I am starting to migrate my email list to Substack. Since this platform feels way friendlier on the composing side, I hope our relationship will blossom through its use. (I miss TinyLetter, but we can’t rely on it.)
There are no new releases or shows just yet. I hope to put some together soon, so let’s consider this a warmup. I hope you like what you find below.
hip & connected:
Music is a slippery thing to try and get a hold of.
Too many folks see it as a tool, a way to feel hip and connected. But this view has a layer of separation built into it.
Fans and players are seeking liberation. The noise we make and the songs we write are one big grinding human quest to free ourselves from the rut of our routines, from the tyranny of trying to be hip and connected.
I'm rarely able to discern what is hip. I'm also pretty sure the word "hip" hasn't actually been hip for decades, it's just a sticky artifact from a time when the word and what it points at were the same thing.
(By the way, it was already too late for you to use the word "lit" by the time you first heard it. Which is too bad, because "lit" is kind of a hip word.)
But beauty is eternal, and for me it’s something felt and heard. I don't really trust my eyes. And while "hip" hasn't been hip since the big band era, Duke Ellington's music will always be beautiful.
It's an immersive thing, this Music.
Is the song a grain of truth or is it merely a commercial for some larger experience, like an album?
Will you and I actually be more connected if you buy an album? Or is the song just a smoke signal, a promise that we will one day join each other on the same hilltop?
Our musical experience of capitalism has exposed questions like these and widened the divisions between listeners who feel differently about them. Because what is "success" in music? No two people will experience it the same, assuming they can recognize it when it's happening.
For me, to admit that my goal was immersion rather than conquest created a few problems on the marketing front.
Some saw it as selfishness: "What is your music for, if not to make other people happy?"
But something deadens in me when I find myself making something other than the most honest sound. It starts to feel like punching a clock.
And thereafter beckons oblivion.
Because while music is a service, giving the people what they think they want isn't always the best way to serve them.
For instance, how do you put a price on redemption? There's a rabbit hole question.
Employers and entrepreneurs will try to answer it. And you can bet they’ll lowball you as well! But the musician can waste no time. We have to navigate the sea of sound within and without to come up with something true.
If it hits it hits, but it must be made.
I don't “make” a sound so much as release it. Right into the air. And it releases me in return. That's the dance.
It's not to sell drinks or calm you down.
It's to bring us alive, starting at the point of contact.
I heard a lot of great bands during a short trip to New Orleans this month, one of which was Delfeayo Marsalis' Uptown Jazz Orchestra:
I was unprepared: however long it had been for me since the last time was too long. New Orleans worked like a defibrillator for my faltering musical heart. It was the most beautiful feeling, the sound down there is magnificent. Until we hear that music in person, we only have a faint idea of beauty. Then you go into a room where a band like that is playing and you forget everything.
We all need a dose of that beauty, so here’s a daylong dose of the Old Stuff. Shuffle on over to Spotify (if you got it) and listen on shuffle:
one from the vault:
Thank you for reading and subscribing.
It’s always a pleasure to hear from you: I’d love to know what you’re doing, how 2019 is starting off for you etc. The list is currently of an intimate size, so hit reply and let’s have a what’s up.
Love your face,
If you appreciate my work, please share this email with a friend.
Check out the “Trevor Exter Playlist” on Spotify
Subscribe to "Play It Like It's Music"
Get involved: visit Patreon