I recently read an article by Fred Plotkin about how the singers and the singing in opera are being devalued in favor of marketing considerations. It’s an insightful read, and it holds just as true for indie and pop music as for opera.
In the article Plotkin talks about what really gets us excited about a musician, which is not beauty, per se:
“Who says that Mimí or Carmen is supposed to be pretty? Since when do we only fall in love or have an unquenchable sexual chemistry with someone who might fit a conventional notion of beauty?
We respond to another person in a fevered and distracted way when that person has it (and you know what it is). If you doubt what I am saying, stand on a street corner for a quarter of an hour and look at all the couples passing by. Some may seem to make an odd pair and yet something intense brought them together.”
There *is* an ‘it‘, an energy we feel from artists who move us, and it’s nothing to do with their faces or bodies. It’s… it’s *them*. Some mix of self and soul and heart, skill and abandon, wisdom and vulnerability.
It’s hard enough to cultivate that in yourself… add on stiff competition, poor compensation, relentless travel, and in the case of indie artists, being responsible for marketing, booking, design, audience development and twenty other separate professions.
And then on top you’re supposed to be thin and beautiful, and perpetually young?! It’s easy for those conditions to wear down the vital ‘you’ part of you that gives you ‘it‘.
I long to experience that ‘it‘ in others. Seeing artists like that, of any stripe – one great show from one of them can nourish me for years. And I don’t think I’m alone.
How has ‘it‘ become the optional part?? Screw beauty! Bring ‘it‘ back!