boy anachronism

Recording of me practicing yesterday’s prelude.

Listening to the Dresden Dolls do “Girl Anachronism” yesterday I realized “anachronism” was also an apt description of myself.

The OED definition no. 2 says an anachronism is


“Out of harmony with the present.” That’s me alright. My ideas about music, learning, history seem pretty out of step.

But I do like Amanda Palmer. Her song, “Girl Anachronism,” appealed to me the first time I heard a recording of it.

Recently she raised over a million dollars on Kickstarter. Pertinent links:

Amanda Palmer’s Million-Dollar Music Project and Kickstarter’s Accountability Problem

Amanda Palmer: The new RECORD, ART BOOK, and TOUR by Amanda Palmer » all you ever wanted to know about all this kickstarter money & where it’s going. — Kickstarter

I found this a bit troubling. I have since read what she has to say about it (doing an expensive project well) and understand a bit more. I do like these tunes:

I think “The Killing Type” is a marvelous piece. Both music and video.

I think the following performance of her song, “The Bed,” is excellent if a bit hokey (the song is a story and musically reminds me of Andrew Lloyd Weber, no mean feat, but he’s not my favorite composer). But I love the sound in the video. It reminds me of analogue recordings of my youth (e.g. the strings in Eleanor Rigby). I love the simplicity of using a sheet as she does and the setting which is intimate and surreal.

She recently put out a call for local musicians to play on her tour when she arrives at their city. For free. I get that it could be an opportunity for a local dude to play with Amanda Fucking Palmer (as she refers to herself). But I find this troubling but it might be more of my own “boy anachronism” stuff.

The very idea of what “music” is has changed certainly in the populist arena.  “Music” now seems to be about a very large ephemeral experience which includes personality, story, emotional strength, entertainment to name just a few. Where I feel out of touch is that I’m interested in music mostly for how it sounds and how satisfying it is to make those sounds physically. When people talk about “music” they seem to mean what’s on their computers, phones and mp3 players.

I have been out of touch, I think for most of my life. I was attracted to the Beatles, Bach and Paul Simon because I thought the sounds were intriguing and satisfying. Later to some extent I identified my own subjectivity in my attraction, but I never quite got that music was a business and much larger enterprise than the sounds themselves.

Then I hit my first music college. I was a bit of a rebel I guess. Certainly again out of touch. I met several fine pedagogues but mostly the teachers were either angry  or distant. And they did damage. I was damaged but not near as badly as other students by the teachers myopic arrogance. One of my fellow composition students attempted suicide. I believe it was largely about academic pressure. I watched teachers ridicule students, seduce students, affect airs of superiority (often when they weren’t all that superior), and generally turn people away from music.


I dropped out of my composition program (due to leaving my first wife, not out of disgust with it or anything) and returned to school years later to study organ.

I was on the phone with a bride recently.

It is during conversations like this when I realize how out of touch I am. I hear brides and grooms talk about not using “churchy” music. Instead they want music that is lively and interesting. I of course think that a lot of the music I do at church fits that description. But I certainly get that the church is a strange land for many people. They don’t suspect that what they are looking for is also what a church community might be look for.

The ideal of a community that has a sense of authenticity is a distant one in the USA at this point. These are missing in our society at large, of course, so institutions will have a tendency to mirror that.

In the meantime I make my community out of sounds I guess. Through them I reach other minds, living and dead, and deep emotions as well as playfulness and simple enjoyment.

That’s quite a bit.

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