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Be the Mule Blog

Meeting Arto Lindsay, Dylan phrasing, and the Intellect of the Spirit

Im sitting on a plane looking down at a piece of Kentucky. The entire world is remarkable, the oft scoffed at to the adored. 

I spent a few weeks in New York making the most of our show at Winter Jazzfest working on things for A Love Electric, trying to get us out to new parts of the world, and making some new music. 

I stayed in Billy Martin's basement again and spent time with some real artist heroes of mine, mostly thanks to my friendship with Billy. People are remarkable, these cats who commit to what they do despite its waxing and waning market value. The names we know and the names we don't, people committed to integrity in their art, or their word, or their business.

I met Arto Lindsay, he came into the studio I was working at to visit a friend, we talked, and he decided he'd play some guitar on a track I was working on. Arto plays the guitar the way he does, using it as a creator of sound and universe. I love that. He scrapes and bangs and sometimes plays a single note. We talked for a while, about his home in Brazil, about a session  for a record of songs about plants he was called to do that afternoon with Bernie Worrell, and about Bob Dylan's phrasing. 

In Arto, I finally spoke with someone who agrees with me that modern-day Bob Dylan performances, and his vocals, are a magic art. When you hear Bob Dylan sing live now its Coltrane phrasing to me. He spits out scatttered syllable phrases in urgent bursts, or hangs words around in hidden corners of the beat, or doesn't sing them at all. I love it, its the intellect of the spirit talking. Arto was into talking about that.

My friends and heroes, my mother and father, all of us, have this intellect of the spirit when we honor it. Bob Moses has it. I spent a day improvising with him in his Boston home a few days ago. He's very direct and I appreciate it a ton. He'd say, "alright, no long notes, no bringing it down, I want to go up and keep going, happy."  He wasn't talking in academic music terminology, he was talking with his spirit/soul/heart, about how he felt, about how he wanted to feel, and how we could feel that together. I forget to to do that often.

It doesn't have to be that playing whatever you feel it is impossible for anyone to relate to. Its that we have to take care to emote what we really might feel at our most vulnerable, and realest, state. To get there, to the place where you only say the truth, is the challenge.

If I am saying the truth to me, people feel it. I believe that. The journey is finding that truth, and a way to believe it.

Still working at it.

Here's an Arto classic -



And Another, of his noisier side







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