Where John Cage Lip-synchs with Lloyd Thaxton while Playing Guitar Hero

“Follow your bliss,” Joseph Campbell advised, while Humanities instructors encourage students to “write about your passion.” But what if we find ourselves blissless and passionless? Or if we are passionate about anything, the last thing we want to do is to write about it, for that will suck the passion right out of the marrow. […]

On the Noise of Argument, where John Cage meets Seneca; or, There is No Silence – Bound to Sound

There is no silence, Seneca argues in his “On Noise.” Our ears are held hostage to the confusion of random noises, the shout in the street, or the whispers of demons when we are trying to fall asleep. Our head is a house of bondage to sounds. We can not turn off the noise. We […]

Where Listening Gives Rise to Silence and Fizzles

There lived in our neighborhood some time ago a locally famous pianist who enjoyed great demand for piano lessons from parents for their children. The demand was such that a prospective student had to interview with the teacher. One of the interview “questions” involved listening to chords: the child identified a chord as “happy” or […]

John Cage, Cowboy Surf Shop, and Garage Jazz

John Cage was the first garage musician, freeing music at once from the academy, from high culture, from ubiquitous radios, from naturalism – from preconceived notions of what sounds should sound like. Cage valued sounds; he desired sounds, required sounds. Cage captured sounds he found in his environment and remixed them in his garage, creating […]

Cage bop Monk lit

John Cage, as we’ve mentioned, seemed to have little tolerance for jazz, suggesting that if musicians want to have a conversation they should use words, and we’ve always found this attitude surprising coming from an otherwise tolerant and peaceful composer – but who named one of his own books Silence, which contains, among many innovative works, our favorite, […]

Jazzskin

Words are sounds, first; then what do we do to them, to the sounds? Jung thought grief gave human voice to sound. This is the meaning of Norman O. Brown’s “The fall is into language” (Love’s Body, p. 256), though it seems equally plausible that joy, close friend to grief, might also be capable of […]