Intro. to Humanities
17 March 2014
The Road to Red Rocks
For this final paper, I have chosen to utilize the outstanding musical talents of the amazing band “Mumford & Sons” and I will be specifically talking about their live performance of the song, “Little Lion Man” at Red Rocks Amphitheatre just outside of Denver, CO. For me, this live performance is the closest thing that I have ever came to being considered a, “religious experience.”
In this performance you have the amazing vocals; the stunning views of the open air of the amphitheatre; the large, tilted disc shaped rock formation behind the stage; the huge vertical rock formation angled upward towards the sky from stage right; the harmony of the banjos, guitars, pianos, cellos all coming together to form an amazing acoustic sound that my hears had never heard until being blessed with this particular piece. To even further more accentuate this experience, the lighting moves on pace with the music- blinking fast as the music picks up, blinking slower as the music slows down, becoming brighter as the vocals rise, and dimmer as the vocals fade.
All of the instruments used in this piece are exactly what you would expect to find in a bluegrass, folk musical number. All of them doing there job, none draining out another, always complimenting the other. The strumming of the banjo is the one element that I find myself being drawn to, some of that is bias. Bias that I have had my entire life. Always being drawn to the sound it makes, reminding me of a time before technology and auto tuning when things were much simpler, when things took work, and time, and effort. The cinematography in this piece to me is as good as I have seen for a live musical performance. The cameras seem to pan to the crowd at the highest, most exciting points of the song, and show the singers during important key parts of the song. Parts like, “I really fucked it up this time… didn’t I, my dear?” showing an immense amount of emphasis that key lyrics being the heart of the song- the man admitting his mistakes and where he went wrong.
In an excerpt from the essay, “On the Question of Value” by Carolyn Martin, she says, “The humanities, at their best, are a celebration of transport, transformation, and wonder. The work of critique, no less than of the creative arts, enables thought, discovery, and insight by ridding us of the rigidities and exhausted forms that kill curiosity and limit us to our fears. We place enormous hope as a nation in technological innovation and the sciences that drive it, as we should. Let us put as much hope in the inventiveness of language, art, and culture, in their ability to hold open the space of the other and to make us reflect not only on our hopes, but also on their limits.” This piece really puts all of that into perspective for me. It allows me to take a step back, to slow down, and to allow myself to more objectively view myself, and my life. It makes me wonder, “will I be the one saying, ‘I really fucked it up this time… didn’t I, my dear?”
My entire life I have had a very strong “Type A” personality. I was a point guard in basketball, a pitcher in baseball, a quarterback in football, and then a United States Marine. All of those positions expect and demand leadership, but, unfortunately there have been the occasions where those past experiences and positions put me in a place mentally where I became so sure of myself that I lost a great deal of objectivity in my life. When I hear the lyrics, “tremble little lion man, you’ll never settle your scores… your grace is wasted in your face, your boldness stands along among the wreck… now learn from your mother or else spend your day biting your own neck.” This to me sings to some of the very struggles that I went through and still continue to go through. This song reminds me that humility is ok, admitting you are wrong is ok, and to not acknowledge those things will end in you hurting yourself…