American Music – Annie Leibovitz


American Music
by Annie Leibovitz


“Our music is family unrelated by blood. As Whitman might say, it contains multitudes. The purity of a child in her Sunday-go-to-meeting dress. The chaotic debauchery of a rock-and-roll star’s hotel room. The emotional  and physical release of gospel and R&B. It is the sound of the hill country, impoverished and free. It is the transient whistling his way through a sad, postindustrial terrain. It is the internal landscape of John Coltrane. The sensuous agony of Etta James. It is three chords into hell. Our music grants us a coat of invulnerability, a spring in which we bathe with abandon, methods of response, moments of respite, and a riot of self-expression. It is the porch song. Plunging youth. It is thick-veined hands squeezing clusters of notes from an equally thick neck. It is the Les Paul. The tenor sax. It is a platter spinning in space, etched with the words “Tutti Frutti.””

 -Patti Smith (taken from an essay in Annie Leibovitz’s book  titled, “American Music.” Check it out, great photos and several good essays by Ryan Adams, Steve Earle, Beck, etc.)

I got chills when I read the first sentence from the paragraph above and I didn’t shake them until after her perfect description of the Little Richard vinyl. I placed the open book in my lap with an almost defeated smirk on my face and laughed. A “son of a bitch” of sorts, and thought…

This woman doesn’t merely enjoy some early 70’s Grateful Dead on a sunny Sunday afternoon, or think its pleasant to have some old Van Morrison on while cooking dinner, or occasionally take pleasure in the bittersweet nostalgia that is an Otis Redding album. She treats music as actual emotion, not as conduit to tap into an emotion. She treats music as if it is a requisite for memories and is as important to a landscape as the horizon.

And I for one, dig the shit out of that.

Enough rambling…

Take a look at the book, goes well with a cold beer, cigarettes, and records… 


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