Where are We?
August 1, 2007 by Seth
Just sitting here watching the Stax story on PBS. I think my proximity to music has changed over the years. Not I think, I know it has. I’m curious now not just in things that I enjoy listening to, but things that have or have had a place. I think that that first began in ernest with the AACM. Not just music or releases of a genre, but a change and a movement that had a social effect outside of the realm of music. The intention of the music is almost as important to me now, if not at times more important, than the music itself. Now that can become a slippery slope as I have spent time I could have done more with in retrospect listening to people’s attempts and intentions and I’ve come away from that knowing that I have to enjoy the music as much as I appreciate its intentions and those two directives don’t always marry, but again this Stax show wow.
I can’t help but wonder what influence if any we have. I can’t sit here and honestly say that we have anywhere near as a large an audience as they did and therefore it is difficult to look at their influence and be able to measure ourselves by it or try to stand next to it, but I can look and see how they approached their audience. How they tried to broaden their place. Fascinating and of course inspiring. As I’ve said before I’ve been inspired by many labels, ECM, Tzadik, Blue Note etc. But learning a label’s story when I never knew it always brings up that feeling. The possibility of music and the influence it can have.
You know it doesn’t exist anywhere except in our own perception. Film is pictures loaded with associations. Books are words filled with meaning, but music is just this series of open ended thoughts waiting to be interpreted by a listener. Offering the possibility to interpret and apply one’s own meaning. A meaning that can often be very divorced from the artists intentions I think. Other art forms offer this possibility as well, but none in my opinion in as open ended a manner as music.
Back to Stax. what can we do. I can sit here and very easily see people listening to the new Steve Lehman recording and discovering a direction and feeling, an impulse that they can carry over to other parts of their lives but identify as originating with Steve. I know we have a place in history with what we’ve done thus far, but what is that place? I emailed Chuck Nessa a few weeks ago. Chuck has a place. I don’t know him well enough to ask if it is the place he thought it would be. Maybe it should never be as somehow that would suggest goals that were not lofty enough, goals that never evolved or maybe that is just me being pessimistic.
In the six years now that the label has been around my relationship to it has changed. My relationship with the artists has changed and my motivating force has changed. I knew that all of these things would happen the longer we did this as that is natural I think. The picture seems to be getting bigger as it should. I just wonder if we live in a time where something like a Stax could come along and have the impact now that it had then.