Friday, November 13, 2009
Humility, Arrogance and the Barker Bass
Frank Lloyd Wright said there came a time in his life when he had a choice, and he chose "honest arrogance over humility." Most would grant him this, based solely on his architectural work. It was of his time yet beyond it in its timelessness.
In 2003 Linda and I journeyed to Portland, Oregon (125 miles away) and were gifted with delightful accommodations downtown courtesy of our son, Joel. That night we caught the Max light rail out to the Rose Quarter for a Yanni concert. Big room. Lots of people. Big orchestra, big sound.
Yanni prides himself on the internationalness of his musicians, and that would include bassist Hussain Jiffry from Sri Lanka. We had met him months prior, and in fact spent some time that afternoon with him in Portland. Now we were in his musical presence and he was playing a five string fretless Barker Bass.
After the concert, we walked back to the Max stop, delighting in the crisp fall weather. I was quiet; Linda commented on that. "Hummph," I probably responded. She stopped me, got in front of me, grabbed my sleeves at the biceps and shook me firmly: "Don't you get it?" she said, lips firm, "An instrument you made was just played by a world class bass player in front of thousands of people...and that is happening in cities across America and Canada. Don't you get it? You made that bass with your own hands!"
Humility is a thick crust to break.
The Dodge brothers, early 20th century creators of the car later called the Dodge, were a quiet and surly pair. In the apocryphal story a man walks into their dingy garage and asks, "What's so good about this Dodge Brothers automobile?" to which one sibling snapped, "Ask the man who owns one!" And went back to his wrench.
Einstein knew how fragile his work was. "No amount of experimentation can ever prove me right; a single experiment can prove me wrong."
Comments from the web from Ed Goode, whose custom Barker Bass has been chronicled in prior posts to this blog:
"The quality of construction is perfect, but those of us that play Barker Basses have come to expect the highest quality. This bass does not disappoint in any way! Flawless, and I truly mean that in its most literal sense .... not a blemish to be found on her.
"...in the several hours I have played it at home it lives up to exactly what you'd expect from a Barker. Great sustain, deep lower end and a clear, well-defined tone on the C string."
I can hear the words but sometimes I can't internalize them. Other days, yes. Today.
Dag Hammerskjold: "Never, 'for the sake of peace and quiet,' deny your own experience or convictions."
That is a very nice bass, Mr. Goode. Very nice. My hands to yours; play it in good health.