So I finally saw “Crazy Heart”. The music didn’t do anything for me but the story was the real story of a modern troubadour. And I wondered how modern the tale is – the setting should be the 90s maybe?
As a personality and from a musical perspective, Jeff Bridges’ character, Bad Bob, fits a modern troubadour – instead of the guys from the 1200s going from town to town with a lute, Bob goes from town to town with a guitar strapped to his back traveling in his beat-up truck and playing music in any dive bar (or bowling alley) that he can.
And he sings the music of the people. Just like the troubadours of old. He writes the words and performs the songs that the average Joe can relate to.
But if you’re a troubadour in 2010 you’ve gotta be plugged in. Sure, it’s fine to play all the dive honky tonks and bars - except no one’s going to them – and certainly not in search of new music. The modern troubadour must release songs digitally and record lots of videos for youtube. He has to go beyond just writing those songs that capture the hearts and emotions of the people around him. He has to Twitter and blog and befriend as many people on MySpace and Facebook as possible. And he must join ReverbNation.
Which is a direct contradiction of who the troubadour is. . . . Watch the movie. I swear Bad Bob is the road musician to a T! Can you imagine Bad Bob getting an email address, much less search out how many new friends he can gain so that his Facebook page can be expanded? He lives his life of taking a journey and writing songs. His main motivation isn’t the fame, although he’s certainly frustrated by a lack of recognition. His main motivation is the living and the writing and the expression. He IS a troubadour because that is who he IS.
Troubadours by nature are free spirits. They feel the emotions around them and they channel them. They express those emotions back to us in song and allow us to experience ourselves in a way that resonates deep inside of us. We hear that song and we say, “I’VE BEEN THERE. I’ve lived THAT song.”
I worry about the troubadours of today. The up-and-coming poets that are able to interpret the world around them in song. They are spiritually in tune but lack the business sense and computer skills that modern social networking requires to get your music heard. Will they continue that tradition of playing for the sake of playing? Or will they get too discouraged from lack of ability to support themselves by playing in bars that are more concerned about a band’s draw than the music that they host?
But I worry more about us. I worry about a society of people that are more in tune with the workout routine, diet and couture of rich people with no talent. I worry about people who search for the latest scandal rather than a piece of art that can touch and enrich their souls.
Troubadours serve a purpose – they are lightning rods for a consciousness that most of us can only encounter in dreams (and even those we easily forget). They remind us that we are frail and weak and strong and courageous all at the same time. They give us inspiration and sometimes take away the pain of this life, if even for a short time.
As a favorite quote of mine that Waylon Jennings, said, “You got to believe it, believe in the music, you got to mean it, that’s all.” Spoken like a true troubadour.