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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The Fearless Girl

Last Wednesday a week ago, many women abandoned their work and marched to recognize “A Day Without A Woman” but I found the Fearless Girl statue facing down the well-known “raging” Wall Street Bull sculpture much more remarkable and leaving a powerful impression. Ironically the US-based political march was mostly by angry women striking about a life without women with participants shouting visceral chants against the newest administration. I’m for free speech but I think the Fearless Girl, precisely as little as she is, has more impact.

The march was strategically planned on International Women’s Day, which has a long history (since 1911) of celebrating the positive accomplishments of women. It brings recognition to the importance of women, since the oppression of women was first recognized in 1908 — with a march. The recent women’s strike was not mentioned on the IWD’s website.

This is not to say marches don’t send a message. They can and have affected change. I’m in Northern VA, where schools had to close because female teachers didn’t come to work. The Fearless Girl statue, however, gives an enduring visual perspective through the personal expression of art that a fleeting march just can’t. The statue brought all sorts of questions to mind because I didn’t know its backstory but wondered who the artist was and how the statue was able to be placed in the current location. Will it stay?

Here’s what I learned. The statue was commissioned and officially put in location by State Street Global Advisors and they tweeted this statementWe wanted to highlight the power of women in leadership. So we made room in the one place business couldn’t ignore.

Fearless Girl video by State Street Advisors via Youtube on AIE

Fearless Girl video by State Street Advisors via YouTube. Click this link to play.

This is a wonderful video! I love the demonstration of the creative process and the message. Hey, but where’s the credit to the artist, who is female, by the way?!!

Here’s how they installed — the day before the women’s march and IWD.

And the message at this little super power of a statue’s feet says much.

Fearless girl statue base via CNN on AIE

The Fearless Girl faces the Charging Wall Street Bull.

Fearless girl statue back via wbur_AIE

via WBUR

Fearless girl statue front via CNN_AIE

She really does look like a super heroine, with her stance and standing strong in the wind, visible by the flow of her dress and movement of her hair. I hope she stays in place. Based on some of the comments on Twitter, sadly, it looks like this is a temporary installation. There is a petition going around to keep her in place, however.

Also, at the time of this writing, I could not find a single mention of credit (via State Street or the McCannNY Ad Agency, who is running their campaign) given to the female artist who created the statue and who is shown in the video. I asked about it on YouTube because overlooking this significant information seems contrary to the message the statue is being used by the ad agency to give — females make a difference (girl power and #shemakesadifference) — and should be noted as such, as should all artists.

Finally, I found the artist mentioned on KTLA 5 news, where I found the picture below. Her name is Kristen Visbal, and here’s her wonderful work!

My favorite picture thus far is how this beautifully rendered statue has already inspired little girls to be the super heros they are.

Abrianna Tabor Almonte wears her red-and-pink superhero outfit to go see the “Fearless Girl” statue on Wall Street. (Credit: Amanda Marmor via CNN)_AIE

Abrianna Tabor Almonte wears her red-and-pink superhero outfit to go see the “Fearless Girl” statue on Wall Street. (Credit: Amanda Marmor via CNN)

Post this publication, here’s a reader’s comment in the Washington Post remarking on the same, non-mention of the artist.

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