Yesterday started with an ad hoc link off to “Its a lonesome old town”, a Keith Jarret tune from his Munich concert in 2016. I love this tune for the quirky mood changes buried in its timing, chord and key changes but it is as good as its title in an Edward Hopperesque kind of way and for that reason induces a melancholic mood itself. That is often a trigger for me to spend time in that contemplative, emotionally charged, reflective frame of mind that sets me off on new ideas and creative paths, or as I call it work.
‘Lonesome’ must be a common enough feeling in this lockdown and it is not to be underestimated how common it is and how painful. Life for many is a series of distractions rather than serious endeavour. Parties, bars, clubs, meetings, outings, holidays, restaurants, theatres, cinemas, sports, shopping trips, travel, the list is endless, and these often have a hedonistic element that can be just as addictive as their social content. Being cut off from all this ‘fun’ for a long period of time is not unlike solitary confinement and the feeling of deprivation must be immense.
Of course towns can seem lonesome in the sense that they are socially inactive because deprived or overly industrial or economically run down but only a human being can feel lonesome. Those who survive this enforced isolation the best will be those who are either not at all or are at least less dependent on social stimuli, have greater self-sufficiency and cope better on their own. Speaking for myself, being an introvert has never been more welcome.
Apart from thinking that Jarrett is the best pianist to have emerged after Bill Evans he resonates for another reason. He was crippled by ME/CFS at the peak of his career and it was only with the support and encouragement of his wife that he returned to playing again and released an album as a tribute to her ‘The Melody In the Night With You’. I have cared for someone close to me with that same illness and I have also survived a serious long term illness myself with the support of my wife.
I disappeared off to the studio in the best possible frame of mind to work on my latest endeavour and played Keith Jarret’s album. For me this album filters out all the best emotions from difficult memories and lifts me up. Musically it is nothing out of the ordinary but the love that pours out of it is palpable in a very down to earth and human way and that makes it remarkable.
And that is where I have been for two days now, apart from our card game last night, in the studio, calm and reflective, working on a painting, happy and feeling the love. I am a very lucky individual indeed.