Starman and I drove last night to Harrisburg (about 160 miles away on I-81) for a Marc Cohn concert. (He's the "Walking in Memphis" guy.) I've been listening to his music since before law school, which sounds like a long time -- hell, it is a long time -- but is only four albums' worth. As his long-time guitarist in the band reminded him, the Beatles' entire career was shorter than the gap between Marc's third and fourth CDs.
He famously had writer's block until the summer of 2005 when two things happened: he got shot in the head, and Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast. Mind you, he'd also had two kids by his first wife, then got divorced, got remarried, had two more kids, and still toured. Which is a lot, as any of you with kids will know. (I don't know this from first hand experience, but word gets around.)
Still, the creative experience is less about choice and so much more about necessity. And somehow after being shot he needed to write again. The songs on his newest CD, which he released just last month, deal with the question of what you do when you're given more time, as well as more of his typically autobiographical material. It was neat to have him explain what certain songs meant, but I really think most of his lyrics are self-explanatory with repeated hearings.
The concert was in a medium theater space in a small city, and Starman and I ended up in the very front row, in temporary seating on a platform over the orchestra pit. I can count on one hand the concerts I've been to (2 Joe Jacksons, 1 Indigo Girls, 1 Billy Joel & Elton John, 1 Alison Krauss & the Union Station, and now 1 Marc Cohn -- okay, so it's an unusual hand, but still...); I'm not fanatic about seeing/hearing in person my favorite performers, but I concede it's a different way to experience the music.
What was clear, though, was the contrast with the previous evening when we went to the Philadelphia Opera Company's performance of Hansel & Gretel. It's a lovely opera, particularly with the Maurice Sendak sets and costumes, but as we'll be seeing the Met production in high-def simulcast, I question the per-dollar utility of that trip and that live performance. Whereas, I think seeing Marc Cohn in concert was excellent value.
The real cost for these live performances is the increased sleep debt. Both times we got home around 1 a.m. and had to get up at 7 a.m. for bridge class. That wears thin after a while, and at our age. So I think I'll leave the more in-depth thoughts about the power of music and the nature of our aesthetic choices for another blog entry.
Instead, I'm going for a nap!