A Modest Man

INTERVIEWER: Are you concerned about what you’d leave behind?

JERRY GARCIA: No, I’m hoping to leave a clean field – nothing, not a thing. I’m hoping they burn it all with me. I don’t feel like there’s this body of work that must exist. There’s enough stuff – who needs the clutter, you know? I’d rather have my immortality here while I’m alive. I don’t care if it lasts beyond me at all. I’d just as soon it didn’t.

Interview, Rolling Stone, 2 September 1993

Music: Rosemary
Written by Jerry Garcia and Robert Hunter
Performed by the Grateful Dead
Aoxomoxoa (1969)

Photo by Jan Saudek: Children Playing in a Cemetery (1973)

This Is Why You’ll Always Return

Life is precious, every minute
And more precious with you in it.

Music: Little Person
Written by Charlie Kaufman and Jon Brion
Performed by Deanna Story
Synecdoche, New York (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack) (2008)

For you.

For Carter Burwell’s Birthday

Photo by Chianan Yen: Carter Burwell, 2001

You might know Carter Burwell’s music but not his name. He wrote music for nearly all of the Coen Brothers’ movies (e.g. Fargo, True Grit), much of the Twilight series (‘Bella’s Lullaby’), and many other films.

Mr. Burwell first hit my radar in 2002, when I purchased the DVDs for Being John Malkovich and The Man Who Wasn’t There on the same day. The menu-loop music for both DVDs was jaw-droppingly beautiful. I checked the credits and found that both pieces were by the same composer. I sought out the soundtrack albums and loved them. Burwell’s soundtracks are now permanent fixtures on my iPhone music player.

He is also a smart essayist and runs an excellent website (with free music downloads and samples) called The Body.

You shall know a man by his works. What we know about Carter Burwell is that he has a lot of soul.

Music by Carter Burwell (four favorites out of many):

Malkovich Shrine and Embarcation, from Being John Malkovich (1999):

I Met Doris Blind, from The Man Who Wasn’t There (2001):

SeDuctIon, from Fur (2006):

Opening, from Moving Gracefully Toward the Exit (2006):

Photo of Carter Burwell (2001) by Chianan Yen

Leonard Cohen on Art

It isn’t that in my life I had some inner vision that I’ve been trying to present. I just had the appetite to work. I think the appetite for activity was much more urgent than the realization of any search or vision. I felt that this was my work, and that it was the only work I could do.

This sounds like the most hackneyed nineteenth-century platitude, but in the midst of my own tiny personal troubles, I was able to turn to art, or whatever you want to call it. I was able to turn to art, and in the making of art find solace and strength. I mean, this sounds terrible, but I turned to the thing I knew how to do and I made some songs out of it. And in the making of those songs, much of the pain in my life was dissolved, from time to time. And that is one of the things that I see that art does, is that it heals.

Leonard Cohen
Interviewed by Mikal Gilmore, 2001
Stories Done: Writings on the 1960s and Its Discontents (2008)

Music: Minute Prologue (1972)
Live Songs 

Kurt Sings

Kurt just made it seem so easy. He could come up with amazing things every time he picked up a guitar. And he could walk into a room and pick up something like a breakfast tray and just tap it around and in 10 minutes he’d be doing something musical with it that would knock you out. I was completely in awe of the guy. He just made it seem so, so easy. When I started writing stuff it was like – wait a second – why can’t I do what he did?

Dave Grohl
Interview, 1997

Music: Ain’t It a Shame
Written by Lead Belly
Kurt Cobain, vocal
Mark Lanegan, guitar
Krist Novoselic, bass
Mark Pickerel, drums
1989
Nirvana: With the Lights Out