November 24 - 30, 2000
The "Artist of the Week" web site feature highlights a new flatpicking guitarist each week. With the recent release of the new CD Lonnie Hoppers, Dan Crary, and Their American Band, we felt like it was a good time to highlight Dan Crary.
Dan Crary: Flatpicking Legend
Reprinted from Flatpicking Guitar Magazine, Volume 2, Number 1 (November/December 1997)
by Joel Stein
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Dan Crary is an imposing figure--both literally and figuratively. At over six feet tall, his eyes peering out behind tinted glasses, his thinned gray hair pulled back into a tight, small pony tail and his gray beard neatly trimmed, Crary speaks with a resonant baritone voice that commands attention. It's fitting then, that Crary spends much of his time teaching Communication Sciences at Cal State Fullerton.
As a guitarist, Crary, indeed casts a giant shadow. In 1970 Crary released the first bluegrass album built around the guitar aptly called Bluegrass Guitar. In the liner notes to the CD reissue of Bluegrass Guitar, Tony Rice states: "...the idea of lead guitar standing alongside mandolin, banjo and fiddle is relatively new and Dan (Crary) along with Doc Watson, Clarence White, Norman Blake, Larry Sparks, and others, made it happen...Crary's direct approach makes for a wonderful sound and fully developed aesthetic all it's own."
Crary's influence as a guitarist reverberates with any guitar tune picked at a jam session. As Rice so simply stated, Crary is among the founders of the form. Crary is one of the architects of flatpicking guitar. Listen to Bluegrass Guitar and one is struck with the selections--virtually all standards today. Many of them, "Gold Rush," for example, presented as guitar pieces for the first time.
One measure of Crary's influence might be the legion of fans he commands. In a recent concert, Pat Flynn, (formerly of the New Grass Revival and an award winning studio guitarist), dedicated a hot fiddle tune to Dan Crary and Doc Watson describing them as "two of the guys on the Mount Rushmore of bluegrass guitar." Steve Kaufman, himself an astounding guitarist who has also helped put the language of fiddle tunes in the hands of guitarists worldwide, credits Crary with "talent, genius and a genuinely kind soul" in his eloquent notes to the re-release of Crary's Lady's Fancy.
Talking to Crary, you get the feeling that his college lectures are as dynamic and fluid as his guitar playing. A passionate guitar advocate, Crary readily shares his opinions which are always carefully worded and constructed, and well thought out (much like his guitar playing). Crary has combined his academic background with his passion for guitar in his educational work, both at college and his workshops. He has contributed to various music publications and has researched the role of music as communication in society. He is fond to recall a Bill Monroe story about watching a circa '68 hippie and redneck jam on a fiddle tune. Good music bridges barriers. One hopes Crary will devote some time to a book, sharing his accumulated knowledge about the guitar and music in general. He has stories to tell.
In workshops--and as a Taylor endorsee, he's done many--Crary recounts his growing up in the musical void of Fifties era Kansas City. He animatedly covers the rise of the guitar, crediting Elvis Presley to the dominant position the instrument holds worldwide today. Crary possesses a midwestern work ethic and the need for social responsibility. He will talk guitar with anybody and love it. Crary prefers not to teach a specific version of one of his solos. Instead, he tells students, with a nod to Segovia, that they are all self taught. He then goes on to cover ways we can better teach ourselves. His main refrain is how to best structure a practice.
With concepts and the emotional delivery of a sales training or motivational seminar, Crary advises to define attainable goals for each practice session and write them down. Then go ahead and tackle the challenge--it can be the rhythm, the way you finger a particular note-- virtually any of the actions that create your music. Just running through repertoire does not constitute practicing Crary emphasizes.
Once you've reached a particular goal, Crary recommends you share your success with someone for positive reinforcement then define your next goal. He readily admits that this method was the way he finally over came some problems working out his famed version of "Lime Rock." The reasoning is simple, it's easier to conquer small hills than giant ones, and success feels good. Sounds trite, but it's true.
The following conversation with Dan Crary was conducted over the phone one early August evening while he and his wife were vacationing. Crary is an engaging conversationalist and his breadth of knowledge is impressive. He is a passionate believer in the guitar communicating verbally and instrumentally. What was supposed to run about 45 minutes ran nearly two hours as he candidly answered questions on a variety of subjects. Dan Crary is a unique man, not just for his dual career path, but for the sheer power of his conviction and faith in the guitar and music and for the humility with which he views his role in the history of guitar, "That's for other's to decide," he says flatly.
Let's start at the beginning. You grew up in Kansas City in the fifties, right?
That's right, I was out in the countryside outside Kansas City. It was sort of suburban. We lived more like farm people than anything else. My dad worked in the city, but we had chickens, cows and half an acre of grass to mow. That sort of thing.
When did you start playing guitar?
I started in 1952. I was 12
How did you get started?
In order for me to answer that question, let me circle around it a little bit and say a word about what it was like vis-a-vis the guitar in 1952. Because in this country in 1952 nobody much played the acoustic flattop guitar seriously, virtually nobody, except for the occasional hero in country music--Hank Snow comes to mind. Merle Travis played a little flattop guitar, yet he's mostly known for playing the electric guitar. Don Reno did, but he was a banjo player slumming on the guitar a little bit. By and large, except for the black guys playing blues, which I never got to hear much of because they weren't on white radio, the steel string guitar was obscure .
People who saw themselves as guitar people--as people who would be known as specializing in the guitar as a serious instrument were almost unknown. I'm talking about the steel string flattop guitar. Jazz players were taking it seriously so were classical and flamenco players. But this version of the guitar that we play was backwater and unknown and not very widely respected.
When you're 12 years old, you're not thinking along these lines. What is it that caught your attention?
That's right. Fortunately what caught my attention was what I've come to believe is the most important thing- I heard the sound of it on the radio and the sound grabbed me. It was a guy named Don Sullivan who had a live noon hour program radio broadcast in Kansas City. He tuned his guitar low in order to accommodate his voice playing open string chords. It gave him a very open string sound. He got on the radio for fifteen minutes and sang country songs. One day I was flipping throughout the dial and listened to that and that sound blew me away. I was captured by it.
You've said your first teacher was an accordion player?
He was an accordion and a guitar teacher. In those days if you found a guy who played guitar and taught it, he would play what was called standard guitar. That meant he played a few chords and a little bit of lead and pop music ensembles--pop music of the thirties and forties. He was a standard guitar teacher.
I asked my dad for a guitar--I don't even know, and my dad doesn't even remember, why they decided to do this because asking your parents for a guitar in those days was like--you know--buying a sitar today. It was a very exotic thing to do. They were sort of expensive. I paid one hundred dollars for my first guitar and that was a Gretsch archtop. I soon replaced that with a Kay flattop. About a year later my folks bought me a nice new J-200 Gibson. That was the first decent guitar I ever owned, I still own it. It was a very, very exotic thing to do to buy your kid a guitar. For three years I was the only guitar player I knew.
Did you play school talent shows...
Yes, I did some of that stuff. Even though if you had asked me I would have said I had no aspirations to be a professional guitar player, still, I was taking every opportunity to play. There was an old boy around Kansas City named Mr. Barkus who had organized a troupe of kids who were magicians, dancers and little tap dancers and that kind of stuff. He took us around in a bus and we played veterans hospitals, retirement facilities and orphanages and that sort of thing. In Kansas City in the parks department they had a summer program where volunteer musicians could get up on a stage in various city parks and play.
Were you singing folk songs and country tunes.
Yeah, whatever came along, country songs, whatever was on the radio. I was listening to as much folk music as I could find but it was very difficult to find. The first folk music record I owned was a Burl Ives record back when Burl Ives was a serious folk singer and not a pop singer.
So here you are this young kid playing country music and songs off the radio. How did you come to trying to play what you heard fiddle players play.
Actually that came along a little bit later for me. I think the only model for what I was doing was the folk singer and I spent the first ten years or so of my playing pursuing folk music or doing a mixture of folk and bluegrass that I thought I could play myself. Incidentally, I did hear some blues someplace. I don't even remember where. But somehow by the time I got out of the sixties I heard blues sneaking into my playing because I've stolen a lot of licks from blues players here and there. So that was influential, but I guess I saw myself as a folksinger.
It was not until I was playing with some bluegrass folks in the sixties that I actually saw some people play some fiddle tunes on the guitar--there was a kid from Philadelphia, I believe, named Richie Guerin, I don't know whatever happened to him, but he was hanging around San Francisco when I moved there to go to theological seminary in the sixties. Richie was playing a few fiddle tunes on the guitar and there were a few other guys hanging around. I think some of them wound up in the Grateful Dead and other rock and roll bands.
And then of course, I started hearing Doc Watson. That was fully 12 or 13 years into having played the guitar. I didn't really start pursuing the fiddle tune playing until I heard those guys do it in the sixties. You see being in theological seminary is not necessarily the best way to be paying attention to what's going on the street, in the clubs and the musical environment, you know. But on the other hand, I was teaching lessons at Marina Music, and that kept me from being completely isolated cause a lot of the world flew by Marina Music in the middle Sixties. I was able to keep a handle on reality at the same time I was pursuing those focused studies.
Do you remember a song, a tune that was an epiphany for you. When all of a sudden you felt this was the direction for you to take your playing.
Not exactly. For one thing, I was sort of resistant to listening to Doc-- any of the other great players like Clarence-- to listening too closely, because I didn't want to imitate other players. I don't know if I was thinking clearly about that, or whether my motivation was wonderful or not wonderful, to tell you the truth, I don't remember. I sort of disregarded them because I was off on whatever trip I was doing. I spent so long reinventing the guitar--having played ten or twelve years- that I did not try to take their material or go down the same road that they did. As I said, the first fiddle tune playing that I really listened to was just a few scattered people doing that. I fooled around a little bit, but the first time I guess I had a real turn around on that was a couple of years later when I moved to Louisville, Kentucky.
I had organized the Bluegrass Alliance with Lonnie Peerce and those guys and one of Lonnie's missions was to get me to pay attention to fiddle tunes. I had never done that, including even when I heard them played nicely on the guitar. I'm sorry to say I didn't like fiddle tunes very much, they didn't get to me, I'd just not figured it out. So one night we were playing at the Red Dog Saloon in Louisville where we had our first gig, this was early '68, Lonnie said, "Listen Dan, there's a tune I want to play for you and I want you to listen to it carefully." He played me "Forked Deer" and he was right. That tune really turned my head. I thought, "Wow, this is really wonderful music!"
If I ever had an epiphany around traditional tunes that was probably the moment. Because after that I got real serious about learning a bunch of tunes and playing them and that sort of resulted in the first album (Bluegrass Guitar) in 1970.
What's striking about that record is that so many of the tunes are now standards.
I think that to some extent that's true. I won't claim that all of those tunes were played on there for the first time, but some of them were. Many of them are standards now. If I contributed to that I'm happy to have done that. Some of those tunes were of course, played by other people. I don't remember everything that's on that record now. Doc played "Blackberry Blossom" and "Black Mountain Rag." But a lot of those were appearing as instrumentals in bluegrass on the guitar for the first time.
There are 12 tunes on that record and you can't go to a jam session without hearing at least half of them.
I think that's true. I'm proud of that. I don't think I'm the person to say what my place is in the history of flatpicking but if we did accomplish something like that at the time then it makes me happy.
At the time did you sense that you were doing something new--blazing new trails.
We talked about that a little bit. But no, I didn't really have any sense that this was going to mean much of anything. Partly because at the time I made the album was also the time I was changing my life significantly. I was arranging to drop out of the Bluegrass Alliance [author's note: Sam Bush moved to guitar for a short while, followed by Tony Rice], leave Louisville and move back to Kansas City and get into a different graduate school because I had decided that theological studies was not were I belonged.
I was convinced that I was going to have to get serious about some other graduate work if I was going to do that kind of work. That meant that I had to quit trying to play professionally. So at the time I made that album I made it because we had started the idea of making it, but about that time I was letting the band know I was out of there. In a way I did it just to do it. Lonnie was going to put some money up to help me record. I thought it would be nice to have it out. I guess I thought of it as my final statement because I loved the music. I had no idea it would ever do anything.
There is a rugged American work ethic in your story. Was that your Midwestern upbringing. The need to have a career in addition to music.
It was absolute madness. I understand what you're asking. When I was thirty years old I was still growing up. Part of the growing up I had to do was to realize it was OK for me to decide what I wanted to do with my life. Until that point I was still living out other peoples' script. I grew up with the notion that A) I was supposed to be in a helping profession and B) music was frivolous, nice, and it was satisfying but it was relatively unimportant and not helping. I believed that at the time. So for me to be playing guitar was naughty when I really should have been giving full time to my helping profession.
I had couple of experiences that changed my mind about that and it was sort of a rush--when I realized that making music and playing for audiences and making records and people liking them, that's a helping profession too. It's quite a respectful and serious thing to do with your life. I hadn't discovered that yet. And so I have a belief about musicians that serious musicians are people who are really driven and compulsive. It's not like they make a rational choice to become a guitar player. That's probably not a decision that's led anybody anywhere. I think musicians play because of the force that's taken hold of them. They can't not play.
I was in a situation where the side of me that was trying to be rational and try to do the right thing and be a good guy was saying "Dan you need to get a profession going before you get any older." The musician side of me would not let go of the guitar. I kept quitting being a professional musician but every time a gig would come up, I'd be out there.
That explains the seven or so year gap between Bluegrass Guitar and your next solo project, Lady's Fancy. When did you get involved with Byron Berline and Sundance?
In 1970 I left the Bluegrass Alliance. I did enter a different graduate program in communication studies. I was working on my PhD. During that time I didn't record anything but I was certainly playing local gigs and I was certainly lusting after playing because there was a lot of great stuff going on. I will say that I was doing my duty and driving160 miles round trip to graduate school every day. And going to debate tournaments and all the stuff I was supposed to do. I was lusting after being back in the music scene.
When I moved to California--I took a job at Cal State, Fullerton--I happened to be fifty miles down the road from Byron Berline who happened to be in the throes of ending his association with Country Gazette. He and I met that summer and we started working together. Sundance was the band we formed.
Sundance was a different role for you, a country rock band with a major label deal on MCA.
It was great. The only thing that wasn't satisfying was that it got too crazy. The major record deal made everybody crazy. It essentially destroyed the band. What we had before we got the record deal was very solid bluegrass and country, and you know what music was like in the seventies - it was an undefinable mix of everything together which suited me just fine. We were a great weekend band who were fortunate , or unfortunate enough, to land a major record deal which kind of destroyed the band. Everybody got so crazy being on the road. They decided to go on the road heavily to support the album. I was teaching school so wound up out of the band because I couldn't be on the road as much as they wanted me to be.
How do you manage to juggle being a working musician and a college professor.
I play a lot on weekends. And I work in a system where it's not required of me to teach in the summer. I get on a lot of airplanes. It's not easy to juggle. But I would sum it up by saying what Bryan Bowers told me one time. I was complaining a little bit too much, we were talking about the balance of having a day job and going on the road and so forth. He said "You know, Dan, a lot people would like to have your problems." It made me stop bitching quite so much. It also made me realize the wisdom of that. Not only do I get to do two things that I want to do, which I'm grateful for, but in addition to that a lot of people who have day jobs would like to have the flexibility to be able to perform. And a lot of people who are trying to make it as musicians would also like to have something steady to back them up when things get rough. I'm grateful to God for this.
You know that old saying God give me the strength to endure my blessings. It's tricky and a hard choice. Everybody has to make their own choices. For me, the thing was to try to do both. There are some advantages and disadvantages. For me, one disadvantage is that I've never been able to be an integral part of any musical scene.
Some of my friends hang out when a festival is over, I make a bee-line to an airport and get on a plane, splash cold water on my face and strive very hard to be a competent lecturer on Monday morning. That has kept me from hobnobbing with and benefiting from the association of some of my friends that I really could have benefited from. I regret that part of it. On the other hand, I get to do these things.
In addition to the duality of your career path--teaching and playing--you also perform in two distinct contexts, with a band and as a solo performer. Do your arrangements and playing vary greatly from band to solo work?
There is certainly a concern for that. But fortunately the first thing I did was to play solo. I've always considered myself a solo player. In fact, I've never not played solo gigs. I've never wanted to lose my hand at that. I've always enjoyed doing that but it is a different kind of rigor that's one of the things I like about it. Part of figuring out what to do solo with a flatpick is to not just play linear tunes without any sort of variety in them. It's not like I have a different arrangement for each tune. It's more I choose tunes that work. Arrangements that I've come up that have more sustained bass notes, or where the melody is embedded in the chords--those will work solo.
Do you work out solos in advance, what percentage of your solos is improvised?
Mostly I've got a sort of basic thing worked out. The more familiar I am with it, the more I mess around with it. I've got some stuff that I play regularly that, once there is a version of it that is identifiable, it then becomes variations on a theme.
You mentioned that the first guitarist you remember hearing, Don Sullivan, tuned his guitar down a few tones, was that the inspiration for the longer neck length on your guitar?
Not specifically. I've never made that connection. It does hang together that way. The reason I mentioned Sullivan is that he got a very "jangilly" open string effect. That really appealed to me. And that's still true. I love that open string sound of the guitar. I've never been interested in music that takes you too far away from that. I'm always looking for a way to play open strings against fretted strings. I love that sound.
The long neck guitar came from fooling around with songs that I wanted to do which fell into keys that were not my favorite keys to figure out cool things to do in. As a singer I had to do the song in one possible two closely related keys, and as a guitar player I had to do something interesting between the verses of the song. One of the keys I don't like so well is C, but a lot of the things that I sing end up being in the key of C. So I thought the old Pete Seeger long neck banjo might apply to the guitar. I didn't want to just detune the guitar. I was thinking, "what if we had the same string tension so the design of the soundboard of the guitar remains the same and we don't mess with the basic mojo of the instrument." I consider it an experiment that I'm beginning to think worked.
Earlier in your career you played a Mossman, how did the Taylor Dan Crary model come to be?
Well, for some years after I moved out here, Stuart Mossman was continuing to make instruments. They sounded wonderful and my six string guitar was a cannon. It also had an interesting, odd characteristic that while it was not the prettiest sounding guitar you ever heard sitting in your living room, it was extremely loud, and when you put it up to a microphone, it miked really well. Then Mossman, for various reasons, terminated his guitar business. At that point Bob Taylor, who was just down the road for me, approached me about playing a Taylor guitar. I told him that the guitar I was playing was different than a scalloped braced guitar and I really liked that. All of his six strings were scalloped braced.
I was really interested in his 12 string guitar, I didn't have a workable 12 string. Even in those days the Taylor 12 strings were astounding. I've said often that Taylor is about one of six or seven great six string makers but the only great 12 string maker as far as I'm concerned. Taylor just completely reinvented that instrument. I couldn't believe it. That you could have an instrument that sounds that nice and tune up to standard pitch and be that easy to play and so forth. The first Taylor guitar I started playing was a 12 string.
After I was very satisfied with that, Bob Taylor came up with a little edge of a challenge in a very friendly way and said "You have these opinions on what a six string should sound like, how about we make a Dan Crary model."
The idea of this guitar was to improve on the Mossman. Instead of scalloped braces you have heavy braces and a thin top. What that achieves is a little like what a flamenco guitar achieves over a classical guitar--you have less shift of the tonality of the instrument on the bass side which is beautiful but not very functional over a microphone. And a little bit of a shift over to the treble side. You get a louder first string at fifth, seven, ninth and twelfth fret and you also have a crisper sounding bass. That's what we went for, a guitar that was microphone friendly and we invented a new kind of brace for it. We dinked around with about fifty variations before we got it right.
I was deeply involved in playing the thing. I'd try it out over P.A systems and bring back opinions. I really did put in several months of time with Bob, and he put in a lot of time and effort. I'd take the guitar out on local gigs mostly and then report right back to Bob. We tried three or four different neck materials, we tried different neck angles. The prototype, which I still play, has got the fourteenth fret right over the edge of the body, about an eighth of an inch in because we'd messed around with it so much. We experimented with a lot of different things trying to find the right combination. I think we did.
Have there been any changes?
The version that you buy today has been changed in appearance. The trim is different now to look more like other Taylor guitars. Essentially, the box you buy today and the neck are exactly what I'm playing with the prototype.
Does the prototype have a long neck?
No. That's later. We just started experimenting with that three or four years ago. I don't think that they want to make a long neck. People are getting interested in it. It would be too expensive, too time consuming to make those. Finding a case is really difficult.
You talked about the sound of using open strings against fretted strings. Have you ever experimented with alternate tunings like DADGAD?
I have, and I just got nowhere with it. It drives me crazy to retune the guitar, I do use drop D sometimes. I was at a conference with a bunch of the Taylor guitar clinicians and there were about a dozen of these celebrated finger pickers that work for Taylor. All of these guys are such wonderful players and they do all these different tunings. I was joking around with them and I told them I used a tuning most of them never used: EED GIBEE (EADGBE). It's about the only one I can make any sense out of. Standard tuning is just where I operate. I love what these guys do with cross tunings. The one flatpicker I know who does that and does it very successfully is Beppe Gambetta. He flat picks all over those cross tunings and makes it sound wonderful. But he's playing a lot of different kinds of music.
What is it your listening to these days?
The stuff I absolutely love to listen to these days is flamenco guitar and medieval and renaissance music. I love Irish music, world music. I'm pretty eclectic. If I just turn on the car radio, the thing that's most likely to be there is either a country station--I don't share the view that country music is not happening today, I think it's very happening, some of it, some of it I don't like but certainly my roots are in country music because I learned to play listening to the radio-- in addition I like to listen to oldies or really serious rock music--the sixties definitional bands.
What is your favorite recording of your work?
I think of all the albums I have out, and it's hard for me to say, there are aspects that are favorites of mine. I think the best studio sound we got on the guitar was the Thunderation album. That was not me so much as Billy Oskay, who produced and engineered the record. That was the most precisely recorded piece of work I've ever done. I go back and listen to that and I still think that's a great studio sound.
Every album has got a few high spots on it. Speaking of Thunderation, I think "Banderilla" and that version of "Lady's Fancy" worked quite well. On Jammed If I Do, one of my favorite pieces was "Durang's Hornpipe." But I also really love the stuff the visiting artists did [author's note: the visiting artists on this project were Norman Blake, Beppe Gambetta, Tony Rice and Doc Watson]. I'm not ashamed of anything I've done, but I think there are high spots and low spots. There will be a tune or two on every album, that I'll think that "The Force" was in my playing.
What about your upcoming release?
It's a Christmas album. I think that this may be the first album that I'll go back and listen to for pleasure. I really like the music. I wallowed around in some music I liked and that I've kind of been collecting for thirty years.
One of the things I discovered in the middle of this project is that Christmas music is very flexible. What makes a Christmas tune is that you call it one. If it has lyrics OK, but if it's instrumental anything can be a Christmas tune. This is definitely a non sectarian Christmas record. It plays religiously, but it's got a bunch of stuff like "Christmas Blues." Most of it is actual Christmas music except for a couple of tunes that I wrote. About half of it is music people will recognize and the other half is some extremely beautiful and obscure stuff .
I wanted to do a project where I could feature not only other flatpickers but some of these friends of mine that do some really exotic kinds of music. (John) Cephas and (Phil) Wiggins are, of course, wonderful, fantastic Piedmont blues players [author's note: Piedmont is an East Coast blues style that refers to the coastal area from Richmond to Atlanta and was popularized by Blind Boy Fuller and Rev. Gary Davis among others]. My friends Kay and Mike Jaffe have been the conductors of the Waverly Consort, a celebrated early music group that's been around since the sixties, Billy Oskay and Beppe (are also on it). Radim Zenkl happened to be in town when we were recording so he played some of his Eastern European flavored mandolin.
Is it all instrumental?
I don't sing. But as I was driving to meet Cephas and Wiggins to record , I wanted to create a tune we could jam on, and call it a "Christmas Blues." In fact, I wrote this tune (while driving) and it turned out to be a pretty cool tune. I realized it was the same meter as the song we used to sing in grade school "Christmas time's a coming, the goose is getting fat. Please to put a penny in the old man's hat." I got Cephas to insert a little of those lyrics into the tune. So that it's a little bit of a surprise--it's an all instrumental album with John Cephas coming in with this voice that's like the voice of God.
I had great fun doing this record. I have no idea how the rest of the world will accept it, but too bad. I enjoyed it.
There you go again, doing it your way...
I don't mean to be arrogant about it. I certainly don't think that everything I've done is wonderful. I recognize that I've high spots and low spots. Some of these independent choices I've made, if I were to do it again, I'd probably make a different choice. On the other hand I do think that you want a musician who plays from his or her gut. One observation I have about every kind of music I've participated in is that as soon as you start following the rules real closely the other thing you'll observe is that the force has departed. To me the greatest art, the force is moving, when people are breaking the rules.
You mention "The Force" repeatedly, can you describe it?
It's indefinable. I think that's one of the things that validates it. The aesthetic experience and the artistic experience both in the producing of art and the experiencing of art --when that is really happening--it seems to me, that there is something undefinable that is bigger than all of us. I'm not going to try and function like a theologian and call that God. But I will say that in some version or another, and this is pretty abstract on my part, it does seem to me that if I have heard the voice of God speak, it's been through music.
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