Behind our Tucson home hangs a silent bell.
It's beautiful to look at: weathered ornate brass, leaf shaped wind catcher, a clear tone when struck.
But the clapper is too thin to sound.
Even the strongest wind can not sound that bell.
And yet there are times, if your mind is calm, when you can hear it ring, clear as a desert spring.
This past Sunday, Jenniffer and I drove up to Chandler for a concert.
We took the back roads, through seemingly endless desert expanses, around communities built in service of the prison industry, and past farmland where fields of green carpeted a landscape where no farmland should ever be.
At the edge of all this, Chandler rose up before us, a wall of homes newly built, marching ever southward in the great megalopolis migration.
We were traveling to attend a benefit concert for the Yongey Peace Prevails Center and future Yongey Peace Institute in Phoenix.
But equally important, we were going to see Laurie Anderson and Lou Reed.
Each of us are made up of the stories we tell ourselves about who we are.
What we do or don't do, where we go or don't go, what we believe or don't believe, who we meet or miss, this is all part of our narratives.
And yet, that's not really us, is it?
In recent weeks I'd been in communication with Lou about a project with possible outcomes.
To simply have that dialogue with Lou, to share my work, was an honor, and an event that would forever alter my own personal story.
All my life I've been experimenting with sound, playing music, living the life acoustic, but the internet and The Anta Project gave me a global voice previously unimaginable.
To the three hundred or so people who visit www.sonicanta.com daily, I'm the guy who plays the border wall and sculpts sound.
To those who know me, I'm Glenn.
For the first half of the concert, when Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche brought the audience through a group meditation, preparing us for hearing, Lou and Laurie sat with a group of Buddhist monks in the first row.
This was not the Lou Reed and Laurie Anderson of myth and lore and marketing, this was simply Lou and Laurie in the audience with everyone else, in an intimate theater, in Chandler- Arizona, listening.
A few performances later, when the intermission rolled around, Lou lingered to talk with people who recognized him and I made my way down to say hello.
Over the years, Lou Reed American Master / Rock 'n' Roll Animal, has been an integral part of my life-fabric.
As kids in the 70's, my brother owned a pair of silver aviator glasses. When he donned them and looked similar to Lou on the cover of Street Hassle, it was a moment of instant urban cool for a teenage suburban New Jersey kid.
Later in life my brother joined me at the Brooklyn Academy of Music for one of the few performances of Songs for Drella with John Cale. That show forever changed my approach to music and storytelling.
A few years later after a bad breakup and the associated drama of loathing and heartache, I had an extra ticket to see Lou at Radio City Music Hall for Magic and Loss. My brother joined me for that one too.
The testosterone Lou of legend, draped in black leather, swaggering, bigger than life was the Lou I knew.
But in Chandler, the Lou my wife and I were seeing was Lou the human being: casual in t-shirt and jeans, occasionally smiling, comfortable, peaceful, real.
In the swirl of fans gathering around him we spoke, and I held out my program for an autograph, a monkey mind reflex if ever there was one.
Me: Lou... my name's Glenn. Glenn Weyant. The guy who plays the border wall. I wanted to make sure I said hello.
Lou: (Puts head close, listens, takes program to autograph): Oh yeah... right, right.
Me: I want to thank you for coming out to Arizona, it's an honor.
Lou: (Handing back the program, nods, smiles, shakes the pen): You know, this pen doesn't write so good with this paper...
And we move on.
Following the intermission, Lou and Laurie took the stage, electronic gear arranged as you might for an informal living room session.
For two hours they transformed sound, walls of feedback and distortion, extensions of Lou's expanding Metal Machine odyssey, anchored by Laurie's warm keyboards and electric violin, in and out of her beautifully crafted stories of enlightenment and revelation.
The sound they created was immersive, took sonic chances that worked, and even drove a handful of people from their seats shaking their heads in confusion, which is always a sure sign of success.
This was not a night of stagnation, of greatest hits, of what had been.
This was the music of their future.
There were songs, but to recite a set list is irrelevant since each song was a unique, reinterpreted entity, impossible to reproduce.
When a movement concluded, silence followed before applause.
Those who remained were hearing deeply.
But what struck me most, more than this performance being something for the ages, was watching Lou and Laurie communicate on stage, intuitively with sound and gesture and eye contact, as musicians, as partners and as husband and wife.
Watching the show, I was moved by how wonderful it is to age with someone you love, doing what you want to do, alive in the moment.
Afterwards, Jenniffer and I drove back home to Tucson, night chasing a slow-fire Arizona sunset into the horizon, talking about music, the future, the past and all we've shared building a life together for nearly 15 years.
And somewhere between Chandler and Tucson, if you listened very closely, you could hear that silent bell ring, clear as a desert spring.
Tuesday April 07, 2009