But there are two other vids I would like to talk about in this post. They're nothing special, yet I find them extraordinary.
The 41st second
"I heard there was a secret chord, that David played and it pleased the Lord"...I heard Jeff Buckley's version of Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah" for the first time when I was in my car, on my way to work, and sure enough it came delivered with all the big emotions. Shivers. Tears to my eyes. There will only be a handful of songs in one's lifetime that will have the power to bring that about and "Hallelujah" for me is among that exquisite company. I've been listening to it, heard it so many times in the meantime that the most shiny splendour of the song starts to wear a little thin already, but then all it takes is just to watch this video to restore it to it's simple and glorious beauty. All it takes is to watch that 41st second, where Buckley hits that "secret chord" and to wonder how the Lord could not be pleased ? I've watched several live recordings of the song (there used to be one on Youtube where it had an even more dramatic impact, but it seems not be there anymore). Buckley plays that intro in all sorts of ways, sometimes letting it organically grow out of a disarray of notes, sometimes mumbling some words through the music ... until he gets to this point, where his hand rests for a split second ... and then hits that chord on the strings of his guitar with a strength and a conviction that would make the gods on the Olympus look down to see what's happening. And you know: once he's reached that point, he's ready for the song. From that moment on, the melody converges and he takes you on a journey into that biblical / mystic universe of lovers, saints, prophets ... created by the great Leonard C.
In this live performance in Chicago, it took him 41 seconds to get there, but oh boy, is it worth the wait !!
Every year, beginning of July, the young and the beautiful, weary of the exams they just had to sit through in the weeks past, descend "en masse" on this place not too far from Brussels called Werchter to join one of the biggest and best rock-festivals on the continent. Currently a four-day feast, it's almost become a ritual of passage for those youngsters. For quite a few among them, it will be the first time they won't be going home but instead will spend the night in a tent on the camping site adjacent to the festival area, equipped with backpacks full of canned food, cheap beers, rubber boots and plastic bags as cover for the rain that is always a threat around here. Rock Werchter, for four days each year, becomes the center of the world for the mainly adolescent crowd that wants to shirk off the stress of the exams and get high on the music of their heroes.
This year, under some of the best sun this festival has ever seen, the british rockband from Birmingham "The Editors" with lead singer Tom Smith were taking the crowd through their play-list when they got to this magnificent "No Sound But the Wind". Smith, solo on the piano, sets in with this Nick Cave-like voice on the dramatic story of the song and silences the crowd in awe. Hands go up, sixty-thousand people intently listening to a very fine piece of music. But then the camera, that up till then had randomly been scouring the crowd, picks up on this boy in the middle of that mass of people. Eyes closed, face drawn as if he feels the pain of every word coming from that stage deep into his own soul, he sings along with Smith in absolute sync. Camera pans away, as if to respect the trance of that boy. Pans back ... and the crowd is picking up the image on the large screens next to the stage, starts gently to roar and to applaud. The boy is yet unaware. Hands in the air. Shouting in silence. The world around him does no longer exist. There's only that pain that needs to find a way out. Tom Smith, behind his piano, is now picking up the scene from among the crowd. Smiles. Sings "Help me to carry the fire". The boy is still mesmerized, but finally notices himself being the focal point of all the intention. Shies away ... but not before he has initiated a massive round of applause.
As I was watching that video, I was asking myself: when was the last time you had been so totally "begeisterd", so totally smitten that nothing else seemed to matter anymore ? When was the last time you had so totally let go as this boy among a crowd that dwarfed him like a drop in the sea ?
And I had the answer to that question ... To my great relief, I found it hadn't been too long ago. At age forty-three, I was happy to know that some things were still able to touch me, maybe not as obvious as in this video, but probably as deep as the effect "No Sound but the Wind" had on this boy.
Thank you Youtube and thank you to whoever was behind the camera for picking this up.
Moments and images to cherish.