There are, firstly, the unique sort of jaw-droppers I usually have in mind for Wednesday Wow. Secondly, there are the little, almost hidden, daily wonders with so much behind them. But it occurred to me there is yet another category, one that is both daily and also jaw-dropping.
It has to do with the human mind and the kind of art it can create. It also has to do with how we respond to that art. What is it that an artist puts into their best work, and what is it that we take from it? Whatever it is, profound or mundane, it can touch us deeply.
As with the greatest guitar solo, ever:
The video is 9:41 minutes long. The solo starts at 4:30 and runs for the rest of the video. (There’s a shorter solo at 2:03 between the verses.)
I’m not alone (by a long stretch) in thinking this is the greatest guitar solo, ever. It’s widely acknowledged that David Gilmour is one of the world’s premier guitar players, and this solo, in particular, is extremely beloved.
For good reason. Gilmour, among almost all guitar players, has an ability to make the guitar sing. Listen closely to the melody line — it’s like an opera singer.
(It gave me pause trying to decide which of the nine different YouTube clips of Comfortably Numb I have on my Music playlist to show you. I finally went with the Pompeii concert, but I almost used this one for obvious reasons.)
There is also something amazing watching musicians who’ve been playing for decades. It’s that 10,000 hour thing. At that point, playing has become as natural as walking or speaking — there is no conscious thought behind the mechanics anymore.
It’s also impressive to consider how many times he’s played this, and yet the commitment to the performance can’t help but grab you. He certainly isn’t just “going through the motions” — there is a joy and exuberance to performing.
[So I think we’re a very long way from understanding our minds, is my point. Any “Theory of Consciousness” is going to have to account for all this, both on the performing side and on the experiencing side. It’s a lot to explain, I think.]
To set Gilmour’s artistry in contrast, here’s another favorite piece by another premier guitar player — an absolute technical master, probably unparalleled — but (to my ears) lacking the soul of Gilmour.
Still, it’s hard to find a better way to start the day then by listening to Eric Johnson play Cliffs of Dover (give it a chance, he starts off slow, almost seems to be messing around, but he really kicks it into high gear at 2:30):
Whew! Downright amazing! Again, the joy and exuberance is just breath-taking.
One of the greatest gifts life ever gave me was having a music teacher for a mom. I don’t know what it is about music, but just about everyone seems to attach to it, be affected by it, somehow.
It just may be that music is one key to understanding our own minds.
Stay musical, my friends!