Monday, 30 June 2014

Almost Perfect > Perfect

I had a brilliant idea the other night and I woke up around 4:00am with a fully formulated 1,800-word thinkpiece for this blog in my mind. It was smart, it was funny, it was definitely one of the best essays I had ever come up with for the original concept of "I Was A Teenage Music Geek"! I grabbed a pen and a piece of paper, jolted down a couple of keywords so I wouldn't forget to write the thing when I got up, and went back to sleep.

The next morning I found a piece of paper with the words "almost perfect" scribbled on it and no fucking clue what it meant and what I was supposed to write about. Almost perfect my ass. Oh well.

So anyway. Regardless of what the original drunken and already long forgotten idea was all about I will seize this opportunity to go on record stating that I like imperfect things, especially imperfect music. It's much better than perfect music, it's more human. Like, for example, this performance of "Anywhere On This Road" by the late Lhasa De Sela. This live version is empty without the excellent middle eastern-ish instrumentation of the studio recording (from her 2003 album "The Living Road"), Lhasa's voice cracks here and there, and the percussionist loses it towards the end.

But these flaws are exactly what make this performance so beautiful: Art is all about capturing the essence, the spirit of the subject, whereas "perfection" is all about the pursuit of a sterile, polished external appearance. That's why punk killed prog rock, that's why Picasso's "Guernica" touches you in ways Bob Ross cannot, that's why the imperfect songs of this fragile, strange, funny girl called Lhasa who dropped out of school to literally join the circus and died far too young touch me so deeply. Fuck perfection.