I was playing in the park just outside the Malden train station for (MOA) Malden Overcomes Addiction, it’s one of those things I do but don’t talk about often. I play in the square and the addicts come and sit on the bench. The MOA counselors are nearby with their tables and literature (and a narcan bag in case they need it).
The music creates atmosphere and through the comments, requests, and heckling directed at me, the volunteers find a way on to the benches and start conversations which in some case leading to voluntary detox rehabilitation visits for months at a time. The track record must be good because this is the third year they’ve asked me to help out.
Sometimes “to be rescued” sign on the spot, the counselors text someone and a van comes a minute later and they do a snatch and grab. Always fun to see a catch in action. Black Ops in Malden MA.
One of the volunteers tells me today how much he loves my rendition of Blackbird. At first he didn’t because I changed something in it, but he still knew what song it was, which is good. Now he asks me to play it every time we encounter each other. His name is Frank and he still doesn’t know my name.
Now he shares the opinion that it’s great when someone takes a song and does it their own way. He also adds that the song doesn’t belong to anyone but the person performing it. I nod along. Yeah, sounds right.
Then he becomes self conscious and apologizes that he’s not a good critic of such things as he’s not musically trained or anything like that. I tell him that his opinion is more important than some music professors I know. I’d rather hear from the person who knows little about it. I can do way more with that kind of critique than the “professional.” I told him that his opinion was way too important to hold back and that I appreciated it.
That made him a happy dude.
I don’t think you can critique music anyway. You like this, you don’t like that. It’s all music: there’s a train screeching nearby and the sound of the wings from the birds add a harmonic to it while they fly away. Some dude is loudly cussing on the phone in Spanish. Hip hop rolls out a window of a passing car and I’m playing a six strings for a bunch of lost souls who need to get into heaven before they close the door.
It’s just one big soundtrack.