A Shout-Out for Shatner
William Shatner, in his post-Star Trek days, has to be one of my favorite artists. He has a key quality- the willingness to go out on a limb. Much of the time he makes a fool of himself, but every once in a while he nails a performance. Almost all of his musical performances from the 60s and 70s were train wrecks (appropriately lampooned on David Letterman), but his 2004 album 'Has Been' is a minor masterpiece. He doesn't really sing, just talks, and the songs are funny as hell, honest, and even revealing- reflections from, well, something of a has been.
The one exception to his performance disasters from the 60s and 70s is his version of Rocket Man, available on YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lul-Y8vSr0I
It's hard to say if this is totally tongue in cheek, if he was high, or one of the greatest art performance pieces ever. But it's a trip. Go Bill.
I don't know if William Shatner is going for broke, exploring his depths and finding only a wading pool- who can say? I'm not even sure if he knows. But that willingness to go for broke, especially if it leads you somewhere you didn't expect, is what makes any creative project worthwhile- if at least for the artist. I'm no William Shatner, but the best creative experiences are the ones where you end up somewhere you didn't expect. Sometimes it's an incredibly dark place. A play I've been working on for years recently led me someplace dark- hauntingly dark. Even though I'm working on radically different projects now, I'm still thinking about where that one project took me. Could it do the same for an audience? They (the proverbial they) say if you write something and you say 'I shouldn't be going there'- go there.
One last shout-out. My latest favorite writing book is 'The Art of X-Ray Reading', by Roy Peter Clark. Other than a less than ideal title, it's a tremendously cool book about reading deeply and learning from the greats.