Thursday, July 23, 2009

Diana Krall - I'm an Errand Girl for Rhythm

At four forty-five this morning Jason and I were talking about moods/emotions associated with jazz. The song on the radio was a jaunty tune. It surprised him. For him, jazz is linked to sadness and melancholy - or noir. He says most of this association comes from movies with jazz soundtracks or that feature jazz songs, since he doesn't listen to much (any) jazz radio (except at my house where he has no choice). He also said (and I agree) that when jazz moves into unpredictable melodies and rhythms, it’s hard to follow along.

For me – it’s always about rhythm and the lyrics. Just like our daily lives have a rhythm. A pattern you come to expect and rely on. I like a steady beat in my life. The ability to count out the minutes and know what’s happening when – or where the next measure is taking me.

Of course – that’s a normal conversation for four forty-five in the morning, isn’t it? Or maybe it’s only normal when your driving to the airport and don’t want to say goodbye.

Usually when guests leave, I’m a little bit relieved. I love having company – but I also like getting back to “my schedule”. I can honestly say – even though the house was turned upside down – and he spent more than a week sleeping in the living room – which meant waking up when I got up for work – Jason “fit” into my schedule very nicely.

I’ll miss having someone to cook for each night. To my surprise, Jason turned into a fearless eater, and it was a pleasure to cook for him. Watching him eat on the other hand (what is it with men who can’t cut their food into bite size pieces? *looks at Dr. Whiney*) … isn’t something I’m going to miss.

Even though I am an anal perfectionist – I think we made a pretty good team. (However, I do think SOMEONE needs to learn to accept help when offered. *ahem*)

We become friends with people because we like/admire certain complimentary qualities they have. Just like I’ve gone on about some of my other of my friends, I cannot say enough about Jason’s good qualities. Or maybe what I really appreciate is that he was able to deal with my bad qualities. I think he sells himself short, but among his nicest traits are his strength of character, his sensitivity to others, and the ability to be silent at the right times. Sometimes that means more than a whole lot of words. (Although words ARE welcome!)

Anyway – I’ve said this several times over the last three weeks, only to get varying degrees of shrugs and grunts and uncomfortable looks – but I’m going to say it one more time.

“Thanks Jason. You did a great job, and I cannot tell you how much I appreciate your time and effort.”

Today there was a great interview with Diana Krall on NPR. In it she too talks about rhythms - and how she is a "character actor" type singer. Until she feels the person the song is about, she can never sing it as her own. Instead it always is an imitation of the original version. It's cardboard and lifeless. Kind of like writing. If you can't crawl in that skin - your character is going to stay one dimensional.

There's another thing about writing. Really good writing has little tiny "asides" thrown in. Maybe just three words or another just a sentence, that illuminates a character's personality, while not outright telling the reader. Like instead of saying, "Sally chewed the inside of her mouth, as she waited for the business meeting to start."

The sentence could be tweaked to say, "Sally chewed the inside of her mouth as she waited for the business meeting to start. It didn't matter how long they stalled. She was invincible today because she had an orange sock on one foot and a purple sock on the other."

See - that's a pretty sucky example of what I'm trying to do. But what clues would you gather from someone who thought mis-matching socks made them invincible? I think these little asides also make a story less cardboardish - but it takes a lot of trust (that the reader will get it) and a lot of talent to know what will add without being superfluous.

We'll see what I learned at class tonight.


mamie said...

Hats off to Jason from me. The only moods I would be talking about at that ungodly morning hour would be MINE and it would not be pretty.

You sure do know jazz.

Love ya good.

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

Yeah, Jason, for spending a week at Mit's house, on the couch, no less !!! And you are to be commended for all that you accomplished while there !!! I know she appreciates it all !!!!! tp