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November Update: Talking Out Loud about Silence/Midwest and Out West Tours

In case you missed it elsewhere: Here’s another video from The Extended Play Sessions, recorded in Norwood, MA, in late September; this is “Walking the Levee“, from the latest release, Long Gone Time:

‘Walkin’ the Levee’ – Kevin Gordon – from The Extended Play Sessions from The Extended Play Sessions on Vimeo.

 Well, here I go again, stumbling into another post:

  Silence. A rare thing to experience, if we ever truly do, while conscious. It’s always relative to something—the sound that gets in its way. Yeah, you can forget the peaceful morning walk with the dog, with the low sun splayed out behind thin clouds like melted white-gold foil spilled across the sky, when the crew across the street is already beating the hell out of what remains of an old house: hydraulics, saws, hammer strikes, voices shouting across the yard. Lot of that happening around here these days. Silence can’t find a place to speak in such a mess.

But when it does . . . the power it holds is nearly unbearable. It might be a cliché, but in music, the silence seems more important than(or just as important as) the notes that are played. Maybe like the “negative space” in a painting, or “white space” in a poem. Silence gives the sound its energy, carves a sharper relief around it. So in the nightly fistfight with myself onstage when I’m trying to play a guitar solo, I try but don’t always remember to listen first, they play. If you hear something. I think Jimmie Vaughan said something very similar to that, better than I did, years ago.

When you ask a friend a question, or bare your heart a bit, in person, or in an email or text(the most emotionally tone-deaf format ever devised for human communication, with the telegram a close second, I suppose) in an effort to start a meaningful dialogue, and you get back a partial or anemic reply, or one that’s of little real substance, that lack of engagement is, ironically, not a silence at all. It’s the very loud sound of what’s not there. For whatever reason; might not even be a deliberate thing. So what is not said or addressed could mean more (or is then thought about more) than what is. Applies when you’re listening to door-to-door salespersons, politicians, tax collectors, or savers of souls too, I guess.

You play a new song at a show. There’s a palpable lack of applause. It’s not a sure thing, (could’ve been a shaky performance) but personally it tends to make me think I need to drag my new little misfit back to the workbench, pull out the hammer and pliers, and take another look or three. Songs come from internal silence, at least for me, and grow into sound. So the nature of how they come to be might blur my sense of what’s important or even accessible to other listeners—I know the details in the lyric or the melody that mean the most to me, but ultimately that can’t be the primary consideration. Whatever’s best for the song might involve editing out that line you think is great, that personally sacred detail that makes you weep a little when you sing it, and might’ve started the song in the first place. As the writer, you’re bringing your own little emotional battleground/game-board/volcano with you, but nobody else can “see” that stuff. And maybe that’s the trick: that whatever is in the finished song has to somehow mirror as well as it can whatever the particular feeling that the heaven or hell in your imagination is sending you into. Am I making sense? Just talking out loud here. Let’s be quiet and think about it. Ha. It occurs to me that two of my favorite song lyrics have silence loaded into them(by the language used or the image created), the first by Hank Williams, the second by Robert Johnson:

“The silence of a falling star/Lights up a purple sky/And as I wonder where you are/I’m so lonesome I could cry”

and this:

“When the train it left the station/With two lights on behind/The blue light was my blues/And the red light was my mind/All my love’s in vain”

Midwest: Happy November to you. I’m about to get really busy again (I’ve been quite occupied here at the house, though, that’s for sure) out on the highway. This Friday begins a 9-show Midwest tour, in trio formation, with Ron Eoff on bass, and Joshua Hunt on drums. I’m fired up about these shows, and the band, and hope you can make it out to see us if we’re in your area. Check the tour page for details, as always. The tour kicks off Friday in Burlington, Iowa. 

Out west: I get home just in time for Thanksgiving; I play the Family Wash the night before, on the 23rd. Then I leave Thanksgiving day, after eating more than I should with family visiting from Louisiana, Mississippi, and New York. Because: it’s a long drive out to the west coast! I’m playing a few dates along the way, then three shows in the L.A. area, then up the coast, ending up in Washington state, hopefully bringing my son back to Nashville with me for the holidays, because by that time, I won’t have any trouble handing over the wheel to someone else, and Evan’s good company will be welcome relief after a couple of weeks of talking to myself. I’ll get back in time to go play at Hippie Jack’s on December 17, out east of Nashville a-ways; a fundraiser of sorts. Then it looks like I’m done till January! Already there’s good things cooking for next year—I’ll keep you posted.

Thanks for your support—I sure appreciate seeing you at the shows, and on this here internet; hope to see you soon!

Kevin

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