Getting out of the Beltway

I’d love to be part of this conversation, but his goddamned comments are broken. Again.

So I’ll just opine here, and maybe he’ll get a pingback. I imagine what I have to say would make him rip his hair out anyway.

Part of his statement here is that, given that he is — to his own ears — redolent of his idols anyway, he experienced a significant amount of why-bother angst. He has settled some of this, if the post is any indication, but I think there’s something else at work here that reminds me of the phenomenon of Beltway Thinking.

That tendency to imagine that the rest of the world is locked in the bit of it that you inhabit, where everyone is soaked in the minutiae of whatever your passion is.

They aren’t.

When he says — paraphrased, “Why should I bother? I sound just like Famous Bassist X anyway,” I want to yell back:

“I’m not a bassist! I don’t even know who that other chucklehead is! When I hear a fretless bass, I think ‘hey, that’s like Jeff Schmidt!'”

It’s not just a matter of feeling free to be inspired by someone else. It’s also recognizing that just because you eat, sleep, and breathe your own inspirations doesn’t mean the rest of the world even knows who the hell those people are. (Although I must say that I was thrilled by his mention of my own personal font of inspiration, Gabriela Montero.)

As a pianist, I have no idea who this Jaco dude even is. Schmidt might scream like a little girl if he heard me say that, but it’s true. Meanwhile, I’m fearful of sounding too like the composer Mikhail Glinka, who lots of other people wouldn’t recognize but who is a major inspiration of mine. (George Winston, too — but most people do know who he is.)

At any rate, I found Schmidt’s music by going to YouTube, searching on “Bach prelude,” and clicking through the many and varied instruments on which the famous cello prelude was played. One was a fretless bass, which had a soft, cottony sound that entranced me. That caused me to search on “fretless bass,” and I clicked on Schmidt’s videos for one reason only: he’s left-handed, and I’d just come off of having been hung up on by some idiot chippie who advertised viola lessons because I told her I would play mirrored and she practically peed herself in fear over the phone.

And the first thing I clicked on was his jaw-dropping “Apotheosis.” I’ve lost count of the number of people I’ve sent that link to. It still strikes me as one of the great genius-level pieces of music I’ve ever heard. I really could not believe what I was hearing the first time I listened to it.

Michael Manring? Other than the fact that Schmidt plainly idolizes him and in fact dedicated the piece to him (I believe, anyway), I’ve never heard of him. I’ve never heard him, either. Nor whoever this Jaco person is. Like I said, it might make him cringe to hear me go, “Whoozat?” in response to a comment about someone he thinks walks on water, but there you go.

I’m outside the Bass Beltway. Bass weenies are not the only person Schmidt appeals to, but he still seems to feel that the majority of his appeal lies there. There’s a distinct possibility that music weenies in general are his home habitat, but that’s a much bigger space than just bass weenies. I’m not sure he realizes that some classically trained pianist who listens to Journey and Styx, arranges operatic arias meant for guys with no balls for piano, and who has never touched a bass could possibly be enamored of his music, or could even have found it.

I mean, the path by which I found his stuff was random and completely unrelated to the geeked-out details of bass guitars. I simply liked the sound, searched on it, and clicked on his video for reasons that had nothing whatsoever to do with bass guitars.

I still haven’t searched on Michael Manring, mind you. Again, while I am a music weenie, I’m not a bass weenie.

But I’m still a Jeff Schmidt fan.

And that’s what happens with inspiration. These other people’s inspirations have gone into the past, and they are here in the present. Schmidt found inspiration from them, someone will find it from him, and so on. There’s no single root inspiration from whom we all spring — it’s just a constant wave that absorbs people as it move forward, and then lets them go when it’s finished, and it heads in all directions, and everyone sees it from a different vantage point.

Anyway. I wish his goddamned comments would get straightened out. I got thinky on something else he said a while back, too. That’ll be a post for tomorrow, maybe.

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