Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Three Beautiful Things 01/08/18: Radio from D. C., *Uncivil*, My Favorite Electric Guitar Player

1. I stayed in today. I wasn't ill or tired. Nothing was wrong. I listened a lot. The Deke and I listened to programming on WAMU-FM, the NPR station in Washington, D.C. It was fun -- and I felt wistful listening to weather reports and other announcements about things happening in Washington, D.C. Hearing Here and Now hosts Robin Young and Meghna Chakrabarti again triggered some sweet memories of driving around the D. C. area in the Sube while listening to Here and Now. I flashed on drives to the Aquatic Gardens, Hung Phat in Wheaton to shop for Asian groceries, Union Station, Brookland, Rock Creek Park, and other places, all of which I loved.

2. The Deke and I listened to several episodes of the podcast Uncivil. The podcast explores how the United States' Civil War continues to be waged, not with armaments so much as with stories. Each episode the hosts, Jack Hitt and Chenjerai Kumanyika, address widely held ways of understanding the Civil War by looking at original documents and by talking with researchers and people whose ancestors lived during the War. They examine such questions and the stories connected with them as whether the Civil War was fought over states' rights, whether slavery was an inefficient system, why monuments to Confederate leaders were built, what impact movies like Birth of a Nation and Gone with the Wind have had on our understanding of the Civil War, what view of history is embodied by the Lost Cause perspective, and many others.  The podcast is only a few months old and you can look at a list of the episodes that have been produced so far right here.

3. From time to time, when it comes out that I used to spend a lot of time with the works of William Shakespeare, people often ask, "What is your favorite Shakespeare play." My answer is always the same: "The one I'm reading or working on in the theater or watching."

I got to thinking today that I have a similar response when I ask myself who might be my favorite electric guitar player. My favorite electric guitar player is always the one I'm listening to. Today, the Deke went on an errand and later went to an activity at the Pinehurst Public Library and, in her absence, I listened to electric guitar players. While I listened to Deep Purple, in those moments, Ritchie Blackmore was my favorite; then it was Pete Townshend; soon it was Richard Thompson; lastly, it was Mike Campbell.

Much like when I work with a Shakespeare play and the one I'm involved with seems, to me, to be the only play he ever wrote and is my favorite right then, likewise, when I listen to an electric guitar player, it is as if no one else ever played the guitar and that musician is my favorite right then.

Part of why I would be a lousy music critic is because I am lousy at comparing and contrasting. When I listen to a recording, I don't care how it stacks up against other work the group has done or other work the guitar player has done or the work of other groups or players.  All I care about is what I'm listening to in that moment.

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