The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #67166 Message #1120612
Posted By: Big Mick
21-Feb-04 - 04:06 PM
Thread Name: Rick Fielding's influence
Subject: RE: Rick Fielding's influence
What a subject. I am glad you started this Arnie. One of the ways knowing Rick has influenced me was that it gave me a chance to sit next to you. What a man with the old clawhammer!! Anyway, this thread gives me a chance to communicate this in the way I know best. I saw Rick on Tuesday following the release, but it was a bit edgy. He didn't feel very well, and I was uncomfortable because I felt like I was making him uncomfortable .... one more reason to hate this feckin' disease. I love this man like a brother, so let me tell you why.
First off, he offered his friendship without reservation. This is a big one. You see, I have lots of acquaintances who are nice, we get along, I look forward to seeing them from time to time, they always compliment your music. But in one's life, if you meet a handful of folks that you have a mutual comfort level that is so profound, that happens so quickly, that they jump in with advice, comfort ... the whole thing. That is how Rick is. He took an interest in me. Here is this artist, widely respected for his playing, his judgement, knows all the best players/artists, and they respect his opinion ... and he freely offers it all up. His recordings inspire me, but his advice inspires me more. But most inspirational is his unqualified friendship. And that friendship causes him to give constructive criticism, and tips, that are invaluable.
His songs have influenced my performances and my mission in this leg of the trip. I am a Union Organizer and political activist. I have searched for my "voice" when it comes to singing about plain folks, the problems they face, the intractable nature of some of these problems, and solutions. Never had a problem singing the songs of my people, hell, I was raised with those. But finding my voice as it relates to my mission in this life ... let's just say I struggled to get outside of the usual Gutherie songs. Then I heard "Voices of Struggle" and "Pitman Blues". And I understood how it is that you craft a lyric designed to whet folks appetite to know more about problems, instead of trying to give them a lifetime of education in a four minute song. The more I listened to Rick's CD's, stories of Angus Frazier, Flat pickin' Jesus, etc. the more I understood some of his magic.
His singing style has influenced me in profound ways. His style taught me how to take a song, strip it of its pretensions, embrace what is left and then take the audience along for the ride. I always had a knack for turning a phrase, but Rick's style of singing gave me tips on how to let the audience in there with you. It's one thing to know where you are headed, quite another to present it so the audience (beyond the super perceptive) get it too. Rick's style, over the years, developed an authenticity that is scarey good. And it has influenced me in mighty ways. I expect this new CD will do more of the same. Could anyone arrange and perform a more perfect version of "High on a Mountain" than Rick and Paul did? I have listened to that whole CD several times a day since Monday, and am now into the dissection phase. And what I am discovering about instrumentation and delivery could fill a book. Mighty influences, these.
Rick really is responsible for introducing me to the influences of the Canadian singer-songwriters, and Canadian culture. And that is a major influence. These folkies, East, West, and middle, are a revelation to me. On this last ramble, someone asked me what it was about this community and its music that I love so much. Aside from the nature of the Canadians, their lifestyle, sensibilities, mosaic, and the talent I see, I love the way much of Canadian music is tied to the place and the history. I think of Glen Reid and his wonderful music. Bill Gallaher and his tales of the West. And on and on. Rick's influence introduced me to Arnie Naiman, Ken Whitely, Jason Fowler. Rick introduced me to Paul & Bev Mills, Grit Laskin, Mose Scarlett, and indirectly to Bill Garrett. And this is only the start, I have so many more to get into, that it may end up a lifes work. Through his introduction I have met so many of the folkies in Toronto that it is hard to remember them all. And I have been able to sing with them and soak up as much knowledge as I could in their presence. And as it concerns Paul and Bev, become good friends. How could one have more influence on anothers life than that.
I remember watching Rick and Michael Kay flatpick together, and being absolutely inspired by that.
I could go on and on, but it is enough to say that if I lived another 100 years, I could never repay Rick for all the influences he has had on me, or had a hand in influencing me with. But if I had to try and sum it up, I would say that Rick's biggest influence on all of us that know and love him and Heather, it is in his absolute desire to bring us all together. Rick is an example of absolute and pure love of friends. He is an example of true caring for others. He calls himself an agnostic, but I know better. I know many Christians, and other "Godly people" whose lives don't reflect true Christian values anywhere near as well as Rick's. He can call himself what he wants, I know him to be a Godly man. Not in language, not in showy "going to church" ways, but in the only real way one can be Godly. He simply lives it, walks it, does it by example. He simply cares enough about others to influence them, and introduce them to influences. It is one of the blessings of my life that he has decided to influence it. I will spend a long time trying to emulate the example.
Now .... I wish he would sit down with me on "Pitman Blues" and teach those feckin' runs..........