There's a couple of lines in the Frank Zappa song 'Packard Goose', spoken by the character of Mary, the girl from the bus earlier on in the album 'Joe's Garage',
Information is not knowledge
Knowledge is not wisdom
Wisdom is not truth
Truth is not beauty
Beauty is not love
Love is not music
Music is the best...
This week has been a time of thinking about music.
We went to the cinema to watch the live transmission of the premier of the new Beatles documentary 'Eight Days a Week - the touring years'. A lot of the footage is familiar, but some of it, such as the colourised footage of the Manchester ABC in 1963, gives a new perspective. I was reminded again just how good a band the Beatles were. With poor PA systems and minimal on-stage monitors they kept in time and to pitch remarkably well. Ringo said he had to watch the other guys bums wiggle and feet tap to work out where in the songs they were. It is inevitable that a lot of the input from Lennon and Harrison had to be archive footage, leaving McCartney to claim to be the inspiration for the idea of an alter ego band, Sgt. Peppers. (He may well have been, but without others backing this up it felt a bit boastful).
Our second documentary was a DVD that I had been given for my birthday, but only just got round to watching. It was 'Anton Corbijn - inside out'. Corbijn made his name photographing bands such as Joy Division and U2, before going on to direct music videos and the occasional film.
Corbijn talked about being drawn by the intensity of some music - a thought which resonated with us as we pondered the artists and bands we love; Lennon in the Beatles, Radiohead, Blur amongst many. The documentary on his life was also poignant as it uncovered the way his personality was shaped by his growing up in a Vicarage, albeit in the Dutch Reformed Church as he struggled with the emotional absence of his parents as they went about "ministry" under the Protestant work ethic. This created a sense of loneliness shared with his siblings, but it was fascinating to see how several of the artists interviewed regarded the wonder in Corbijn's work as to how he drew them out of their view of themselves and into his way of seeing the world. As he reflected on his childhood he talked of how his loneliness drove him to find hiding places from which he could view the world in secret. This is picked up in many of his famous photos (such as the ones of U2 for the Joshua Tree album) where there is no sense of interaction between the members of the band. Sometimes they are not even looking at the camera, instead staring into a stark and barren landscape.
Music is the best...but not just any music - intense music, music which speaks from the soul and seeks to come to terms with the world and drives artists through the pain of the creative process to dig into their lives - that is the best.