'Goodbye Storyteller (For Fred Myrow)', by Brad Mehldau
Yesterday, I ordered tickets for the upcoming concert of the Brad Mehldau Trio (Feb. 28th, 2012, here in my hometown Rotterdam).
So I thought it was time for another beautiful piece by this 41 year old American, this time from his 1999 solo album ‘Elegiac Cycle’.
Brad Mehldau explains in the liner notes his fascination for elegies:
"…I’ve always been attracted to elegiac works of art, that mourn so many kinds of loss, from the most profound to the most prosaic death of them all - what the French aptly call ‘la petite mort’. There are concrete examples that clearly mourn the loss of a person or people: Musical compositions like Charles Mingus’ ‘Goodbye Pork Pie Hat’, or John Coltrane’s ‘Alabama’. But there are so many works that aren’t elegies proper, yet are elegiac in character. Much of Brahms’ late music, for example. Often, we find an elegiac strain in the late period of any artist’s output: the poignancy of Bill Evans’ 1977 rendition of ‘You Must Believe In Spring' or Chet Baker's achingly ironic late take on 'Blame It On My Youth’. Lamenting the loss of springtime and youth.
Alas, life is short, art is long. Great music packs a primordial punch. And when the wind is knocked out of you, something great takes place: You get to feel your own mortality. The role of time is crucial. Music doesn’t just represent time, it moves through time, and the listener experiences that passing. What’s the feeling? That tingling in your stomach, that sweet ache in your gut, that tickly weakness that creeps over the body when you’re pulled into the music? It’s a kind of death-feeling, in a place where ecstasy and mortality-fear overlap. Rilke told us in one of his elegies that our perception of beauty is just the beginning of terror.
Dying, being remembered, music sings an elegy to itself, beautifying the ‘everyday’ loss around us, showing us how intimate we can be with death. So an elegy can have this purpose: to celebrate those very things that make us mortal…”