The Gospel According to Bill.

May 20, 2009

Everyone should go read this really nice piece by Rick Moody over at the Rumpus. It’s a bit winding at the first, and if you don’t find prep-school stories terribly compelling it might seem pointless, but the payoff is so worth it:

The larger question, the somewhat disappointing one, is thus raised. What is the purpose of this music? For me this gets to a related and more interesting question: Why make music in the first place? There’s a very specific reason for making this music, as John has pointed out on numerous occasions. People with Down’s Syndrome require cerebral stimulation or else they lose function. That is, if you treat a person with Down’s like they are impaired, they will eventually suffer with that impairment…

The other piece of it for John, I suspect, or so it seems to me as a listener, is that Bill is his brother. Bill and John, actually, have some things in common–an eccentricity, a very strange sense of humor, but also a surprising and welcome loyalty to one another that comes out in their shared output. Music, that is, is something that you make with people… …Bill’s recordings, then, are the music made by this family, by these brothers, and it doesn’t sound like a lot of other music, at all, but it sounds complex, emotionally complex, and resistant to easy listening, but rewarding according to how much effort you put into listening and how much you try to greet Bill on his terms. These things are true about all the best music, all the best recordings, all the most impressive live shows: they challenge and delight according to the extremity of the challenge.

Bingo.

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