Beck and the Realization that Happy is Hard

I was delighted to read the Art of Sound story in the New York Times Magazine recently and even happier to discover Beck (Hansen) was one of the three iconic musicians profiled, along with Lamar Kendrick and Tom Waits.

Beck via NYTimes magazine on Art Is Everywhere

Beck via NYTimes Magazine

Wyatt Mason, the article’s author, describes music as the art form that “unlike a painting cannot reach out and turn your head as you walk by” or like other art forms that mandate engagement, “songs live in the air.” The more creative of my two sons perceptively thinks that music is the truest art form in that is “speaks” to everyone. Personally, I think it is up to the listener to hear music — by being “open” to hearing.

Beck is one of my favorite musicians. Not only do I love his music, his creative genius but his ability to create his own music independent of what might be a best seller. Morning Phase, his most recent creation, did just that though without the intention. It received the Grammy for Album of the Year in 2014 — and well deserved. Interestingly, I never heard any of the songs from this collection played on the main-stream radio; I confess, to which I hardly listen to anymore but was listening to in 2014. It occurred to me that the songs must have gained their popularity through online-radio-streaming. This is exactly where we (my husband and I) heard it first — streaming on the Morning Phase Radio through Apple iTunes Radio that is now our go-to radio station. Listening to any of these songs, particularly Blue Moon and Morning, can help center my distracted thoughts and calm stress anytime during the day.

Beck_Morning_Phase on Art Is Everywhere

I’m naturally curious about what next phase of songs Beck will put out. Imagine my surprise to discover while reading the article that he must believe in a Big Magic moment too. He tells the story of how he had met Pharrell (Williams) in the studio and having “this strong feeling that he wanted to work with him.” In fact, he had a strong feeling about writing happy songs for “a number of years.” It never happened and Pharrell told Beck that he had just produced this song called, “Happy.” Well, we all know how that took off….!

Beck doesn’t beat himself up but I think he believes that the timing just wasn’t right for him for this type of song and besides, he concedes Pharrell, “kinda nailed this one.” We all have to agree but the idea was out there for someone’s taking. The more it is thought of, I think the more it comes to life — at least for someone. Side note: This is the exact sequence that did happen to me and coincidentally right after describing Big Magic in a previous post.  My big idea that I had been working on for months was ready to unveil but I couldn’tl until my website was completed. Technology was my hold up and the unveiling of my idea was hijacked by another company. Although, the design styles and quality of the materials are not the same, the concept was. Although frustrating, you just keep going and enjoy that you’ve created something — and that you had a good idea.

Beck’s next phase of songs are as Mason describes, “huge, dance floor-ready” with a “whole new sonic range” and “nothing like Beck has done before.” I’ve heard this song on my Beck radio but since other artists play on it, I wasn’t aware it was Beck.

Even though Beck describes happy songs similar to comedy in that they are the “easiest to fail at” because they are the “hardest to write,” I bet he’s done a pretty good job and I’m eager to hear more of the outcome.

When asked when is he his happiest, Beck answered, as a true artist would,
“My most alive place is in the moment of, maybe not fulfillment, but where there’s the possibility.”

I can relate. For me, it’s the enthusiasm, the excitement and the inspiration of the discovery of something that is and could be really good. The doing to make it a reality is the hard part. There is satisfaction in the completion but it is not the same as the initial possibility and its exuberance.

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