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What Artistic Growth Looks Like

by Jonathan 0 Comments

Check out these two videos from Nathaniel Rateliff, one from 2010 and one from this year.


They’re both pretty damn good, right? That first one, though, Shroud, it’s pretty raw. Now, truth be told, I love music like this, but you can only get by on raw for so long. For an artist (writer, painter, musician) to endure, evolution is key otherwise the same old same old is just that. No matter how talented an artist might be, trotting out the same stuff year after year will eventually get stale.

Watching the second video, there’s still that rawness, but there’s a whole lot more going on, there’s showmanship, a true stage presence that wasn’t there before. Rateliff owns the stage. He’s gone from singer songwriter to full on entertainer. The music itself is testament to that fact as well. The song’s a complete effort by the band. And it’s glorious.

The beauty of growth is that not everyone’s going to like it, but it’s critical for the artist to keep on keeping on. Think of the Beatles or Bob Dylan or U2. Love ’em or hate ’em, they kept the flame alive by exploring their medium. Look at Picasso or Van Gogh or Rothko over time and you’ll see their work changing on different scales.

I’ll leave you with this quote from Rothko:

The progression of a painter’s work…will be toward clarity; toward the elimination of all obstacles between the painter and the idea, and between the idea and the observer…to achieve this clarity is, inevitably, to be understood.

How We Arrive in the Present

by Jonathan 0 Comments

We’ve all ridden to the present in our own homemade jalopies bristling and clanking and whistling with every bit of where we’ve been, what we see, who we’ve met, what we’ve done, why and how we’ve done it . The road ain’t always pretty or easy to travel. Sometimes it’s full of potholes, sometimes it’s no road at all, just trackless wilderness. Pieces fall away and new ones get scabbed in their place. And sometimes, if we’re lucky and we’ve endured, we come out on the other side with something to give.

Like these guys.

If you think this just applies to artists, your road’s been a tunnel or you slapped blinders on yourself somewhere along the way.  If we can climb out of our own cavernous holes long enough to look around and survey the landscape, we can find it everywhere we look. And we should.

The Value of the Creative Mind

Raise your hand if you’re guilty of taking your creative mind for granted (I just did). It is a gift that should be appreciated everyday like family and friends and the star-filled sky.

Some go so far as to say it’s something worth fighting for.

“And this I believe: that the free, exploring mind of the individual human is the most valuable thing in the world. And this I would fight for: the freedom of the mind to take any direction it wishes, undirected. And this I must fight against: any idea, religion, or government which limits or destroys the individual. This is what I am and what I am about. I can understand why a system built on a pattern must try to destroy the free mind, for that is one thing which can by inspection destroy such a system. Surely I can understand this, and I hate it and I will fight against it to preserve the one thing that separeates us from the uncreative beasts. If the glory can be killed, we are lost.”

John Steinbeck – East of Eden

Well, hell yeah.

Don’t you fear what you don’t know
Just let that be your room to grow
You’ve got to fight for your mind
While you’ve got the time

Ben Harper – Fight For Your Mind