What does an artist have to do to capture a listener’s attention? To give you an example of what captures my attention, I have embedded the video of The Killers singing “Spaceman” on Saturday Night Live in 2008 (it might take the video a while to load—sorry, it was about the only site I could find that had this performance).
I happened to be watching SNL that night, and it was the first time I paid attention to the Killers. Watching Brandon Flowers, the lead singer, I could not to take my eyes off of him. He was wrapped up in the moment. Watch his eyes as he sings. They are intense. You can tell that he’s giving himself to the music and the audience. He starts out a little slow and builds up to the chorus. Around the 1:00 mark, he is hitting his stride and the music has taken over his body. Flowers has great range, and he sweeps through the high tones with flair. I don’t know if the band would say this was one of their best performances, but it was enough to make me a fan.
Watching this performance reminds me of a conversation I had the other day with Ryan Topper, an old friend of mine (he’s not old—we’ve just known each other for fifteen years). Ryan and I hadn’t seen each other for about ten years and we got back in touch via Facebook and this blog. It was great to see him. We played basketball together at Washington State University in the 1990s. He was a senior my freshman year and we were both fan favorites (neither of us played very much, so the fans were excited when we got in the game). Ryan is now working for the Humane Society in Vancouver, Washington, raising funds to support the organization’s new state-of-the art animal shelter.
Our conversation covered many things, and one of topics was music. Looking for his opinion, I told him about an idea I had to make this blog more compelling. I told him I was considering putting up some recordings of my own songs, maybe even writing and recording a new song each week to share with you. His initial reaction to the idea was that I should be careful about how I went about that, because recording good music is such an “in the moment” event. It would be possible, but it would also be a huge challenge to do that with a new song each week.
It was good to get that feedback, and his words made me think about how I should go about sharing my music with the world. I know he’s right about making it worth listening to. When I wrote about art before, I said that music has to be more than just notes. I’m going to keep writing and refining songs, and hopefully soon I’ll be ready to move up out of the parking garage (where I practice at night) and share them with you, regardless of whether I take on the weekly song challenge. I’m not about to claim that I can sing like Brandon Flowers, but I assure you that each song that gets posted will have as much enthusiasm and emotion as I can give it.