Thursday, May 30, 2002

Hello Beatle People.

Welcome to my new feature:

*******�HERO OF THE WEEK�*********

This week I have two: Jack White of the White Stripes and John Frusciante, guitarist and aesthetic visionary behind the new Red Hot Chili Peppers.

A little background: I have been slaving over a big Peppers piece for a couple weeks and it�s finally almost done. I discovered midway thru the process that I was being granted loads more creative freedom than usual on this one, and I found the sudden change confusing as hell! It got me thinking about creative freedom, and how it can be an obstacle to clarity.

Jack White says that he thrives within strict and narrow limitations: �If I had a brand new Les Paul that stayed perfectly in tune and some solid state amp and all this digital equipment--that�s just too much opportunity. I wanna go in with one beat-up amplifier, one drum set, a guitar that doesn�t stay in tune and just work with that. I love putting myself in a box, putting restrictions down, and taking it from there.�

If you know his music, you know the power of limitations.

John Frusciante said something similar in an interview a month ago. We were talking about �fate� and the nature of linear time and it evolved into songwriting. He said that in the realm of linear time, it appears to us that anything can happen, but that in fact that�s not the case--that there are crucial if invisible *limitations* on the course of events, which are only visible to one observing the whole span of linear time from beginning to end. Seen from that objective perspective, he believes, it is clear that the order of events, or fate, is perfect.

KS: But what about free will? Anything can happen.

JF: But only one thing *does* happen.

KS: Right. It�s this total paradox.

JF: You�ll find that it�s not a total paradox if you sit there in front of a piece of paper and say, OK, I can do anything. And then you try to do something--you don�t do anything good.

To do something good, you have to limit yourself. You have to say, I�m going to draw a bird.

I don�t sit there with the guitar and say, I can play anything. I sit there and I say, hmm, OK, I�ll play an A minor chord and do something with this kind of chord progression and put this kind of rhythm to it.

That�s not *anything*. It�s *infinite*, because there�s an unlimited amount of things that can be played, and there will never be the end of music, there will always be more ideas and possibilities and new songs. But at the same time, every single one of those things will be in certain confines. Every song has a million other things in it that aren�t being done that would make the song cease to be that song.

If you apply *anything* to these things that are supposed to be expressions of freedom, you�ll ruin them. What it�s more about is that there�s these energies below everything, making everything happen, and it�s a matter of putting them in as concise a form as possible. For me that�s where I start to find real freedom.




PS: Tomorrow the big White Stripes Weekend begins! I�ll give you full reports of the El Rey Theatre Friday/Sunday/Monday shows. I�m trying to get in on a funny deal they�re doing: Saturday they�re performing at the MTV movie awards, and they�re going to have a load of fans onstage dancing, wearing red and white.

Who�da ever thunk they�d be on MTV? Much less the movie awards? Although, if John�s right, I guess it was pre-ordained by cosmic limitation that Jack�s highly self-restricted music should explode.

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