Notes on a Page

Ever have those moments on stage where it feels like the music is literally inside you, and you can’t get enough of it outside of you, into your instrument? Suddenly you’re no longer trying to play with feel, but the feel of the music is overcoming you, and you’re powerless to stop it? 

I wish these moments were more often. (Maybe the audience or congregation doesn’t, but hey…) And unfortunately, I can’t say it any better than this clip. I wish I could, because then I could have written the film, and then I would have a little something I like to call ‘money’, which would then render me free from having to choose between food and guitar gear anymore. It would just be all guitar gear.

But alas, I simply cannot find a better way to communicate this. (And please note, it is an older film, it does have a clarinet, and it is a little long. Start it at about 1:40 if you like, to cut down on the time a bit, and end it at 6:20. And for those of you who are automatically frightened every time you hear the word ‘clarinet’, there’s a guitar clip at the bottom, too. But it means more if you watch the…wait for it…’clarinet’ one first.

‘Don’t play the notes on the page. Play the sunset.’ See? I tried and tried, and couldn’t come up with anything that sounded as rad as that. And for those of you who are wondering, the ‘sunset’ is not a solo. Nope. The ‘sunset’ is most definitely an anti-solo. 😉

And here’s one of the greatest examples I have ever found of someone going beyond the notes on the page. With feeling and passion, of course…not by adding more notes.

Wow. I almost cry every time I hear him play that song. Note that I said every time I hear ‘him’ play it, though. Jeff Buckley is the only one who has a right to cover this song. And since he has unfortunately passed, this song should now not be covered. I’m so serious. It seems that everyone who has ever picked up a guitar has decided that they will be indie and original if they film themselves covering Jeff Buckley’s ‘Hallelujah’ (which he himself was covering) and put it on youtube, and then everyone will marvel at their amazing vocal skills and their ability to find this ‘underground’ song. And in reality, you just get 50,000 terrible versions of this beautiful song, sung by people trying to look and sound cooler than the previous version. It’s getting out of control. And…uh…if you’re reading this and you actually have a cover of it on youtube as we speak…I’m sure yours sounds awesome! This is just a sore subject with me because I…um…well…okay. I admit. I’ve played this song at church before and thought I was ultra-cool. Blast. I said it. So please. All of us. Let’s just find another song to be cool with.

And play it like you literally can’t contain the feeling.


20 thoughts on “Notes on a Page

  1. I usually get that feeling…when we are playing songs that are so freaking slow that I have time to twitter between down-strokes!

    “The congregation isn’t used to the song being that fast,” I have heard during practice. I take a deep breath and apologize to my guitar.

    Where is Nuno Bettencourt when I need him?

  2. Cool vids! I love Jeff Buckley’s version… and Mr. Holland’s Opus. It’s those elusive moments where we lose ourselves that makes the practicing and lugging around gear worth it.

  3. Rhoy–I like that! Playing can’t be ‘clinical.’ Very cool! And great to find another Mr. Holland’s Opus fan. Thought I was the only one. hehe

    Chris-lol That was awesome!

    Mike–Exactly. Very awesome comment.

    Nate–really? Ya, it’s been covered so much, sometimes his version gets lost. The song was actually written way back ago by Leonard Cohen; but Buckley took it from obscure ’60’s pop to heartfelt ballad. And then everyone else tried, too; including me, I hate to say. hehe

    Dan–whoa. That was one of the best videos I’ve ever seen. I just sat there and watched the whole thing.

  4. Totally with you on the “Hallelujah” thing – which is why Lincoln Brewster committed an almost unforgivable sin by covering it live on his “All To You” album!

    Phil Wickham does a YouTube version that IS worth checking out – especially since he sounds more like Jeff Buckley than Jeff Buckley!

  5. Evelyn Glennie…Wow…wow…wow.

    To blogsology-it’s lucky for Lincoln God can forgive just about anything.

    Nice post Karl. Posts like this remind me that worship music is so much more than just G C and D. Thanks.

  6. Jeff–haha Brewster did it, too? hehe That’s funny. And Phil’s is really good; he has a great voice. But I just love Buckley’s ‘white guy blues gravel’ that he can so effortlessly put in his vocals.

    hehe Man, a lot of people really have stolen this! I don’t feel so bad now. 🙂

    Mike–ditto…like a thousand.

    Jed–great point! A lot of times for me, the simpler the song can be, the more passion and feeling I can put into it.

    Ya, and Evelyn Glennie was seriously blowing me away. It took me halfway through the video to even realize she was deaf. Thanks again to Dan for that great video!

  7. I caught myself playing the melody to Hallelujah over a completely different song in church on Sunday, but it sounded right (at least I thought so) except when it kinda morphed into the theme from Shrek..

    I don’t think anyone else noticed but for me it was personally pretty worshipful (good thing I wasn’t singing at that point).. actually that’s not totally true – the acoustic guy noticed and approved – I could tell by his big Kiwi grin at me every time I played the line 🙂

    Don’t you just love random comments on a six month old post?? Oh, and I heard the Brewster version too, and it makes me agree that no-one else should ever be able to record or film Hallelujah again after Buckley…. sneakily doing bits of it in church is okay though, as is singing it around a campfire, which is firmly on my agenda for this weekend!

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