Friday, May 30, 2014

So Sue Me

"Humans are the killers of magic"
~Patrick Carman, The Land of Elyon: Into the Mist

Mage Music 84 
Mage Music 84 The Scales of Justice

Oh please - let's not go into the legal arguments associated with the lawsuit. You know -- the one that the estate of Spirit guitarist Randy California has brought against Led Zeppelin 40 some years after the “crime”. Let the people with expertise in things like copyright law, finances and such have their fun beating each other up over an issue they can’t resolve in any meaningful way. All that will happen is that the attorneys will make a lot of money and some ruffled feathers may be soothed (probably also with money) until the next time the issue comes up. And there will be a next time as long as it is business as usual – which is to say this lawsuit is about business and money and not the music at all.

Don't show me the money

This may come as a shock to some folks, but life is not money-based. It's not even work-based. Money is merely a marker, a symbol of value that humans agree on.  The marker is used to make the exchange of things of value easier, including the expenditure of energy in the form of labor. In and of itself, money has strictly limited value. You disagree? When you're hungry, try eating money.

When they say money can't buy happiness, that's a hint. What we're ultimately after is not about money or even about what money is able to buy - not cars or food or fame or fortune.  What it's all about is happiness. All the money and all the stuff in the world is useless unless it satisfies desire.  Satisfying the desire is what makes us happy. And that means that money and what it can buy sometimes has no value at all.

Money can't buy Magick, either - so don't bother showing me your money.  Show me your Magick.

What's law got to do with it?

If a person can't bring about changes in his own reality that make him happy, then that's a  person not doing Magick. (Satisfied desire -> manifestation of change in the world = happiness). So here's another hint: A person who is using the law to force change is not only unhappy but most likely not able to bring Magick into what he does.*

Why does that matter?

We humans, like most living beings, feel more comfortable with predictable patterns all around us. Human laws are the patterns that attempt to control life so that it feels safe. Limitations mean fewer surprises that could bring about pain and suffering. That allows everyone to keep on keeping on without having to look over shoulders constantly for the lions and tigers and bears of the unknown and unpatterned. Everything black and white, cut and dried and safe.  So safe.

Except that safe doesn't satisfy the human soul. That’s why we humans have art, and art isn't very good at following laws. Art pushes the boundaries of the rules that make us feel safe and spills out all over the place in unpredictable ways. The best art is edgy and smacks of risk and danger because these works of creativity connect us with the energy of All That Is.

You can try squashing art with laws, but life is growth and growth is a creative act. The human need for music and painting and drama and all the arts - tools for expression of the full span of emotions and the depth and mystery of the unknown - just can’t be confined by law.  Art is the messy, unruly, ungovernable leading edge of life itself.  Law is exclusive, art is inclusive.  Law is about apples or oranges, art is about apples and oranges, about anything and everything.  The best art is Magick and is an act of manifesting desire. The law can try to regulate a work of art with about as much success as it can regulate the natural desire to create in the first place, that is, not very well.

And the law shouldn't try. When it does, though, we know why. It's just business.

Not all that glitters is gold

Copying isn't an act of creation. Passing a work of art off as being one's own could and maybe should be subject to the scrutiny of the law because there is money involved. Business is business, after all.  

But don't let that confuse you.  It's quite simple to differentiate between "copied from" and "inspired by". If there's Magick to the music, then an act of creation was involved and the music has moved outside the scope of human law.  In the case of Spirit v Led Zeppelin, if you listen very hard the truth will come to you. From there you just follow the Magick.

And aren't the lyrics to Stairway to Heaven the ultimate in irony?
There's a lady who's sure all that glitters is gold
And she's buying a stairway to heaven.
When she gets there she knows, if the stores are all closed
With a word she can get what she came for.
Ooh, ooh, and she's buying a stairway to heaven.
And it's whispered that soon, if we all call the tune,
Then the piper will lead us to reason.
And a new day will dawn for those who stand long,
And the forests will echo with laughter.

 *Reminder:  I use the masculine pronoun but that never excludes women from things Magickal or anything else.  It's just a quirk of the English language.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Postscript 06/10/14 ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

More thoughts on the lawsuit:

One of the big problems with mixing business and the arts (and music is obviously one of the arts) is that throughout human history making copies of a work has been not only accepted, but encouraged. It's only been in the last hundred years or so (as opposed to thousands of years of humans creating works of art) that this has been a problem.

Today's copyright laws have failed to even acknowledge that there are two completely different, and apparently opposing, approaches to art: the creative act that generates the work of art on the one hand, and the making money off of the work through copies (including musical recordings) on the other. The law can say what it wants but artists still work from the same inner space, which is influenced by and yes, even takes from other artists' work. It wasn't all that long ago that incorporating direct inspiration in a work of art was an act of tribute, not theft. It isn't even illegal to create exact copies of works of art, you know.  If it is sold it simply has to be sold as a copy, these days as a licensed copy (otherwise you couldn't buy Led Zeppelin music, posters or photos, could you?)

History has clearly shown that laws cannot suppress human nature very successfully. Regulations can't get rid of the human need to create art. This creative drive is part of human nature - a basic need like the need to socialize and communicate.  It is not an optional artifice of modern civilization. As long as copyright law ignores this point, there will be needless legal problems, particularly when there are opportunistic bloodsucker attorneys out there who want to take advantage of the situation.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Berklee College of Music President Roger H. Brown's speech honoring Jimmy Page

Check out the Steve Vai quote in the third paragraph!

May 10, 2014
Roger H. Brown:

Jimmy Page, the founder of Led Zeppelin, is one of the most celebrated guitarists in all of rock history. He got his start as a guitarist in the 1960s, working on hit records with many well-known acts. He later become a member of The Yardbirds, the group remembered as the training ground for the triumvirate of British guitar heroes: Jimmy Page, Eric Clapton and Jeff Beck.

1968: Jimmy Page formed Led Zeppelin and shook the world with ten studio albums and more than a dozen years of international touring. The band’s sound was fueled by Jimmy’s ingenious and multi-faceted guitar playing, songwriting and studio production. Robert Plant’s inimitable vocals — although I think we did a pretty good job last night — John Bonham’s thundering drumming style and John Paul Jones’ multi-instrumental skills. For decades, Jimmy has ranked in the upper reaches of countless lists of best guitarists. His guitar style has been imitated by six-stringers across the globe, and a few twelve-stringers. I can say with reasonable confidence, that at this very moment, there is at least one guitarist somewhere in the world, in a music store, playing Stairway To Heaven.
Jimmy’s influence on two generations of guitarists is immeasurable. Nigel Tufnel, lead guitarist for Spinal Tap, sounding a bit dazed and confused when asked for a quote, said “Jimmy who?” Meanwhile, Nigel’s acquaintance, Berklee trustee Christopher Guest asserted “There is no way to exaggerate the impact Jimmy Page has had on rock and roll. Every guitar player since owes him a debt of gratitude. A sublime player and a worthy icon.” Fellow guitar hero and Berklee alumnus Steve Vai says that Jimmy, quote, get ready for this one, “In the physical universe there are objects that include suns, planets, all life and matter and all dimensions. And then there’s the space where all these things exist. That space is the vital element. For virtually every kid since 1968 who picked up a guitar to find his voice on the instrument, Jimmy Page has been the space that enables all our notes to be played.”

Aerosmith bassist and local rock hero Tom Hamilton adds “I’ll never forget the first time I heard that first Zeppelin album. It sounded so powerful. Every instrument came roaring out of the speakers with thickness and clarity. Jimmy’s combination of blues and celtic folk gave birth to the two-headed snake that has been injecting us with his delicious venom for decades.”

Upon learning that Jimmy would be with us here today, Wayne Sermon, a recent Berklee graduate who is the guitarist for the Grammy-winning band Imagine Dragons, said “I can think of no-one more deserving of this honour than Jimmy Page. He has shaped the landscape of rock more than any guitarist on the planet. He will forever be a legend.”

Jimmy has the distinction of being inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame twice: In 1992 for his work with The Yardbirds and ’95 with Led Zeppelin. In 2005 Jimmy was named to the Order of the British Empire by Queen Elizabeth II for his charitable work on behalf of impoverished children in Brazil. Jimmy and Led Zeppelin have been recognised with numerous prestigious awards, including America’s Kennnedy Center Honors in 2011.

And so, with the massive impact of his musical contributions for the direction of rock and roll, I’m pleased to present Berklee’s honorary doctorate of music degree to the man the British magazine Uncut has called “rock’s greatest and most mysterious guitar hero” Jimmy Page.

Dr. Guitar God

Stay true to your passion. That’s it, isn’t it?
~ Jimmy Page, Boston Herald interview, May 2014

I liked the Boston Herald's photo caption for the photo below, so I borrowed it for the title of this post.

Dr. Guitar God

Here are some links to various articles and videos of Jimmy Page yesterday and today, at the festivities and ceremonies associated with his being awarded an honorary doctorate from the Berklee College of Music.
Boston Herald 
Boston Herald Video
Boston Globe
Boston Globe video

Photo links:
Boston Globe
LedZepNews (Twitter)

Also Ask Jimmy Anything event in NYC. You can ask but I'm guessing not every question will be answered.

I'd appreciate it if anyone who comes across a video recording of the concert and/or the commencement ceremonies would post the links in the comment section below.  Thanks.


Advice from Dr. Guitar God that everyone should heed: “Developing your own character within music and with your own sort of creation and just believing in what you’re doing.  If you can feel that it’s coming and you've got your music coming through, you've got to go through with your passion.

That's how Magick happens.


Jimmy Page's Berklee College of Music Commencement speech
May 10, 2014 at 10:08am

Oh wow! Well, good morning! I had to check my watch there to make sure it was the morning. It’s so, ah, this is absolutely so amazing. It’s such a privilege to be part of this. All the energy from the graduates. You know, congratulations to all of you. And to the families as well. It really is something being up here and feeling all this.

I’ve got to say, the concert last night, you can see I’ve got something here which could loosely be called a speech, but I must say, after having come to Berklee and been part of the experience and listening to the concert last night, the speech is rendered useless. It’s not even going to be referred to. Here I am: A sort of busking musician trying to busk my speech.

What a spirit there is here! It’s absolutely amazing. The quality of musicianship that was shown last night is really moving, right across the whole of the different genres that were being played. I thank you so much for the interpretation of my music. That was really touching. But, across the music of Geri Allen, and Thara Memory, Valerie Simpson’s music, which is superb, I must say. Valerie Simpson was absolutely superb last night. Absolutely! But also the sheer, to hear the brass section that you have here. Hearing them last night from the audience, just down there, was so powerful and so precise and so punchy and everything about what real good brass sections should be about. Fantastic soloists there. It was just moving, right across the whole of the evening’s event and I must say that being here in a college, I have to sort of be perfectly honest with you all that I was sort of self-taught. Not such a bad thing because I learnt from records and trying to sort of interpret playing of what would be my guitar heroes from there.

Along the way I became a, I think you call it a side-man here, a session musician. And I was going in there and I’d have the charts. I was head-hunted for this, actually, curiously enough, but I couldn’t read music at that time. But I could read the chord charts and the session musicians in those days would play across quite a wide variety of music. It wouldn’t be, like, if you were a guitarist you wouldn’t just be the stylist in your own sort of field. I had quite a number of sort of guitar techniques that I’d evolved over my sort of teenage years so I could apply all of this acoustic folk-picking and slide guitar and etc etc. But it was a very, very closed shop in those days. Actually, probably still, maybe.

But now, obviously, as a specialist musician, you would be contracted in. But, in those days, when I had to sort of go in the door and have that discipline to play because, boy, if you made mistakes, you wouldn’t be seen again. I was in this whole sort of studio role for about two and a half years playing all manner of things from TV jingles to soundtracks and film music, Goldfinger, to The Kinks, to, you know, it was really a wonderful sort of, colourful role that I was playing.

Until, one day the music charts were passed out and there were the notes, and it was a gentle hint, I think, that I had to learn to read music in a very, very serious way. Because there were serious competitors there and everybody was fluent with music then. So I had to come on very, very quickly in leaps and bounds so it was, yeah, it was quite a pressurised moment but I had come through it and then I was reading like all you guys do.

So I just wanted to give you that little bit of empathy and understanding about having to learn. Reading music is a major part of it and of course, once you can read, write it down, read others' work, that’s great. Thank you so much for inviting me here, it really is an honour and a privilege and I thank you all very much. Good luck in the future. Thank you.

Friday, May 9, 2014

Happy Birthday To Us!

Mage Music is two years old just about... now.

Mage Music 83
Mage Music

I say happy birthday to us rather than just to Mage Music because this blog has not only been about Magick and about the music of Jimmy Page, but it's been a journey of revelation as well as a Working of personal Magick. It is also a gift to you, the reader, that feels in many ways like a gift to me, the author.

Two years ago I wrote "I'm curious about music - why it works, why it generates the responses it does. I'm not educated in music theory, but I want to know more about music than just that I like it or that it seems powerful. I want to know why. I'm hoping you do, too."

I didn't think back then I'd be talking more about Magick than music, but I've let the writing lead me where it wants to. After all, writing is a creative act, just as music is. And all creative acts can be used as ritual for Magick.

So mote it be.