I don’t generally post youtube links for a couple of reasons. The main reason is just an element of self-discipline. It’s important to me to mostly post songs that I’ve lived with for a while. I will occasionally put up something that’s new to me and that I’m excited about, but I like to emphasize music that I’m familiar with. I worry that youtube makes it too easy to find novelties. The second reason is similar, I don’t like the sound quality on most youtube videos and I like to listen to things on different systems as a way to get different sense of the sound, and that isn’t possible with youtube videos.
All of that said, I do see videos that are well worth a link, and here are a couple:
1) A delightful video of Wayne Henderson at PSGW. I first heard a recording of Henderson about four years ago and I’ve been a fan ever since (in fact, I had a very small role in the story of how his latest CD got released). The video has good sound quality and really shows off his particular casual musical dexterity. He isn’t working hard at all, and he sounds like he can do whatever he wants without ever being in a hurry. As an extra bonus, it was recorded at PSGW which is always worth a mention (just don’t ask me to explain how they chose the cover photo for the current brochure).
2) For a completely different mood, there is this video of Townes Van Zandt performing “Waiting Around to Die.” I think some of that footage was in the Townes Van Zandt documentary “Be Here To Love Me,” but I don’t remember if that entire clip was included. I don’t know that the performance is particularly impressive, as a performance, but I think it gives a very interesting sense of Townes’ charisma. He’s capable of being simultaneously casual and jokey while also having moments of intense emotional focus and openness. He can be himself while being around or chanelling intense emotions and you can see how that would be really compelling to people around him.
That clip also made me think of the description, in “Be Here To Love Me,” by Townes’ wife, about the start of his songwriting career. She said that they had gotten married not that long before, Townes decided that he wanted to start writing songs, shut himself up in a small room for a week, and then came out excited to play her his first song — “Waiting Around to Die.” At that point she realized the marriage was not going to be exactly what she expected. Clearly Townes Van Zandt was not particularly inclined to alter how emotional journeys for the sake of the people around him. But he did become a truly amazing songwriter and performer.
3) Finally, a clip of music that I am less familiar with. Via Ta-Nehisi Coates there are some great Joan Armatrading videos from a session live in studio. I’ve just recently bought a Joan Armatrading collection and I think it’s going to take me a while to get used to her style but that I will really like her when I do. At first listening there are parts that I find distracting. Her performance is an interesting mix of being stylized and formal and also intimate and emotional. I suspect that the parts that feel overly formal to me are a sign of not being familiar with her musical style. But I’m interested to try to listen enough that I can focus on the real emotion in the songs.