Over the weekend, I took in some Ben Folds, Nora Jones and David Gray videos on YouTube. Always the sucker for the singer/songwriter combination with a lifelong appreciation for jazz and blues, something occurred to me while watching these videos this weekend. I actually watched instead of hiding them in a browser window behind the book proposal I was supposed to be finishing.
And something hit me about the beauty I found in every note they sang and played…
It was about every note they didn’t play…the space between…places where the words rested before the next line or verse began. The most meaningful parts of their songs were what wasn’t there – and in the absence, their talent grew rich. It’s like listening to a damn good jazz vocalist – they either sing ahead or play an artistic game of catch-up to the accompaniment. Crappy lounge singers sing on top of the music, killing the anticipation. Spoon feeding you. And that’s why it’s crap and why other artists (in any medium) go on to incomprehensible success.
The notes between are:
sweet, the moment between picking up a piece of dark chocolate and tasting the first bite
gut-wrenching, the moment between seeing an all-too-recent lover locked in a kiss with your successor and when you turn away
ecstasy, the moment between a joke well-told and the cramping in your side from laughing so hard
torture, the moment between asking her out and her actually saying yes
peaceful, the moment between when his hand touches your cheek and when your head melts into his shoulder
void, the moment between hearing that someone precious has passed and when the tears begin to fall
The notes between – you either get them or you don’t. When we spend our lives searching for the next big thing and those moments of blinding importance, we’re apt to miss the between times where the greatest treasures rest. You can’t manufacture or force them. They’re not on any menu. I don’t even think you can go to school to learn them. They’re intuitive – those moments we’re so instinctually ourselves it’s scary. We’re vulnerable, and from there, we open ourselves up to the greatest sensations and achievements possible. Victories earned, love discovered, souls lost, epic failure…all so profound that we can’t help it but to stand still for a moment when they arrive and introduce themselves.