Music to stir the soul… or not…


I stuck in two different CDs today. One, by an artist whose name I will not mention… It was… just let’s say it was not good. Then I got out my trusty iPod (the real cool one with U2’s signatures on the back… Aren’t I just the consumer…) and pulled up Beethoven’s 6th. It made up for everything.

Trouble is, when I find myself listening to great music, then I find myself listening to something that is… not great, let’s say… I find my tolerance for the “not so great” goes lower and lower, to the point where I feel like I’m becoming a snob and not a regular person.

Another example. I was sorting through some new worship music that came across my desk (since I’m a “Worship Arts Pastor” I have to sort through this stuff) and trying desperately to find new music we could use here at the church ( and getting nowhere, so I pulled out a CD that I knew had great music on it to listen just to inspire me a little… Crowder’s “A Collision” (Check it here). Then I feel like I could never write a song as good as “Wholly Yours”.

Same thing with art and photography… Okay, just photography. I can take a picture, but I can’t draw a straight line. But I see something really beautiful, and it makes me feel like I could never take a picture like that.

How about you? Does great art inspire you? Or just frustrate you? Or maybe both at the same time?


12 thoughts on “Music to stir the soul… or not…

  1. Julie says:

    Great art almost always inspires me. I know I can’t do it – but it inspires nonetheless. I’m cool by now with the fact that I will never be a great artist. I’m at best a good adapter, a decent designer, and an interesting techie. My goal is to do the best I can do – not to be great. So it inspires me.

  2. LeMon says:

    Art….music…..all inspirational and beautiful. Like visiting the Art Institute of Chicago and actually visuallizing the historic and breathtaking works or even the Warhol Museum. Things that are so simplistic and intricate all at the same time. Really makes me think I can do something if I really try….but it never has happened….yet. If you really want something bad enough….like playing a musical instrument, a dedication and focus needs to happen. I like to think I can make music but I am only kidding myself. I look around me and see many, many talented people. I can make a joyful noise and I guess that is what really counts.

  3. gbow says:

    Why would good art frustrate anyone? It is is created for you to enjoy – or not. It is not a competition. The artist is saying – “look what I did” not “look how much better, smarter, or skilled I am”. It may inspire you to do the same. If it makes one somehow insecure the fault is not with the art itself. Rather, the viewer may have issues with his /her own accomplishments that need to be addressed. — or not. Yes, good art always inspires me — as sometimes bad art does. Or did I misunderstand the question (ha-ha)

  4. pietrosquared says:

    No, gbow, you understood the question. I admit to having issues with my own accomplishments and/or abilities. But sometimes it frustrates me in a good way to get better at my craft.

  5. Andrew Hamm says:

    I don’t know, gbow. Sometimes I do feel like Stephen Sondheim is saying “look how much better, smarter, and skilled I am.”

    I kid, I kid.

    I think that there is a certain level where the pure enjoyment of art is marred by being an artist in the same medium. I have a very hard time going to the theatre sometimes because I can’t turn the critical thinking off. For whatever reason, I’m a bit better at letting go when it comes to music, but I do find myself with an increasingly lesser tolerance for mediocrity and a greater hunger for new good stuff. I’ve been soaking up Marshall Crenshaw, Tom Waits, and Buddy Miller lately, and the complete and total brilliance of the songwriting is making me just not care about the other stuff on my MP3 player.

    It’s a great thing to discover new work that makes you say “Wow, I didn’t know music could be like this! Can MY music be like this? Let’s find out!”

  6. Philip Hamm says:

    Since music is so important in your life and your career it’s OK for you to become a “music snob” in my book. Lots of people who work on computers become “computer snobs” to some degree, thespians become “acting snobs”, etc.

    It’s OK and it’s normal, Pete, don’t worry about it.

    The problem is determing when to throw out or give away those old “not so good” CDs that you’ve got on your self to make room for more Coltrane.

  7. Andrew Hamm says:

    Yeah, Pete. I got “Universal United House of Prayer” with a Barnes & Noble Gift Card a couple weeks ago. His version of Dylan’s “With God on Our Side” floors me, just floors me. What should I get next?

  8. Doug Jones says:

    music stirs the soul…

    it also can agitate…

    my ruts on the bass are deep… and the frustration infuriates – and then I listen to jaco or squire or geddy or laboriel and I just want to chuck that ’77 Rick into the garbage bin…

    I never will chuck it mind you… for once in a while – for a second my soul vibrates with the strings and I am carried to that mystical place only great art can take you – and heaven and earth kiss for a moment and that glimpse inspires and moves us on in the direction of our Creator… and the desire to create returns.

  9. Sir Kenton Of Drake says:

    Thanks for inviting me to the blog Pietro. God bless and all that…..rooty-toot-toot…bear good fruit.

    Great music always inspires me when I’m just a listener but when I think about it as a musician (guitar in particular)sometimes it frustrates…. but in a good way. My guitar heroes can do both. Clapton,Knopfler,Robbie Robertson,Richard Thompson,Steve Cropper,Duane Allman,Dicky Betts,and so many more play with such soul that I feel like a dog under the table waiting for a crumb…just one lick from some of their stuff is so great to learn and gives me joy.

    I like to listen to styles that I don’t care about playing like Classical or Jazz then it’s pure listening pleasure and I’m not thinking about how I’m gonna play it on guitar. But, if it’s In Memory Of Elizabeth Reed or Statesboro Blues then I sometimes get preoccupied with trying to figure it out and play it like the recording…that can frustrate but also lead to making one a better player. So it’s all good…yes?

    BTW, I’m on the Buddy system too. There is a higher power. I like the fact that you play everything from Crowder to the Louvin Bros. Brother Pietro.

  10. Cory Zipperle says:

    Does great art inspire you? Or just frustrate you?

    Great art inspires and can also be frustrating. I’d love to have chops on the keys like some of the greats. So I’m inspired to learn what they do and imitate. But sometimes I get frustrated when I can’t figure out what I’m lacking.

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