The Joy of a Rare Bird

I have always adored Steve Martin. He is, let’s face it, just an interesting guy, and in addition to being interesting, he also just seems…well, he seems to be pretty cool. Some interesting people are intriguing to us because they are, let’s face it, perfectly horrid (in exciting, curious, amusing ways). Some people are intriguing to us because they are brilliant, and one is willing to put up with their being pretty awful in order to get at the brilliance. Others, however, are bright and curious and brilliant and also seem to be decent sorts. I think of Martin that way. I could be wrong, of course — perhaps he’s just really worked out a public persona I like. I get that he, like all of us, is pretty complex. He, like any of us, can fall into the horrid for one reason or another. Just the same, I kind of like what I know of the guy. I like that sense of introspection about him — and a sort of humility it seems to generate in his public persona.

I certainly like his work, and I like his apparent attitude toward his work. In short: he’s an interesting guy.

One of the many interesting things about Steve Martin is his music. I really just enjoy his banjo work. I especially like how much he enjoys it; he’s a banjo geek, and it’s wonderful! I thought The Crow was a huge amount of fun, musically speaking, and I’m having the best time listening to his new CD (w/ the absolutely amazing Steep Canyon Rangers), Rare Bird Alert. There’s some simply terrific bluegrass music happening on Rare Bird Alert, and some mighty fine comedy, too. What’s most attractive to me about Martin’s musical work, though, is the combination of thrill and humility that seems to be threaded through the whole experience (particularly as he describes it in his liner notes).

It reminds me of what’s best about making music with people: the magical feeling of it all coming together, of everyone just playing, in a sense that includes not just the work of making sounds but the fun of messing around with them to see what happens next.


About L. M. Bernhardt

For a good long while (15 years or so), I taught philosophy at a little private university in northwest IA, and occasionally branched out into playing music, dabbling in photography, experimenting with food, and writing nonsense on my blog. The philosophy teaching part ended in 2017 (program elimination via prioritization), but never fear! I've just finished my MLIS at San Jose State University, and I'm currently on the market looking for new adventures in either philosophy or LIS. For now, I labor at a fairly interesting administrative job in order to support my dogs in the lavish manner to which they've become accustomed.
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