Sometimes I pick up books I never heard of based solely on how much I like the cover. I don’t even read the inside flap to see what the book will be about.
I just read it.
Read it with no idea of what will happen at all.
C.J. and I have been doing the same thing with concert going lately. Not quite the same I guess. You can usually tell by a venue what sort of music you’ll get at least in a very general way.
We’ve been going to the Jazz School in Berkeley lately. Since it’s only ten or fifteen dollars a ticket, we don’t even pay much attention to what sort of performer will be there. When we can go, we have dinner, visit Half Price Books, and then see the show.
Since we buy tickets through the local on-line half price outlet, sometimes months in advance, we often end up sitting in a theatre waiting for the lights to darken with no idea what’s going to happen because we tend to forget what the play’s about.
There’s an element of surprise to this that makes for a lot of fun.
I’m currently reading The Other Joseph by Skip Horrack because I liked the cover when I saw it on the New Books section of my local library. I’m planning on finishing it today. I’ve no idea what will happen. I had no idea what would happen when I started page one either. It’s not going to be on my top ten list this year, but I am enjoying it.
Last night we went to see Cindy Scott at the Jazz School with no idea what to expect.
Here’s a sample of what we saw.
This is not the kind of music we usually listen to. In fact, if I had seen this video ahead of time I might have decided to skip this show. It’s also not really jazz, but no one was bothered by that last night. Ms. Scott was terrific as was Brian Seeger on the guitar. She was much more downbeat than I would have expected at a jazz club where the music leans towards the up-tempo. Their cover of I Want to Get You on a Slow Boat to China stripping away the typical big band treatment the song usually gets to just vocals and a guitar made it a sweet, sexy tune that prompted some hand-holding, I confess.
She sang a version of Shenandoah that brought tears to just about everyone’s eyes then invited one of the musicians in the audience up on stage to join in on a rocking Bye, Bye, Blackbird, one of my favorites.
A standing ovation prompted two encores.
So this got me thinking. Why is it we so often hesitate to try something unexpected? These days people don’t go the gas station without checking the reviews on Yelp first. True the concert we saw before this one wasn’t all that good, but it was just ten bucks, and I often stop reading a book after three or four lack-luster pages, but aren’t the best parts of things the ones that surprised you?
The moments in a performance I remember most fondly are the ones when the performers did something I wasn’t expecting. When the Grateful Dead left their play-list to riff on The Beatles Hey Jude; when Counting Crows basically ran out of songs and did a spontaneous unplugged cover of The Psychedelic Furs The Ghost in You; when Bob Dylan plugged in his guitar for the first time. Okay, I wasn’t there for that one, but you see my point. I was there when Betty Carter and Carmen McCrea changed their minds halfway through the song, decided they certainly were not blue and turned Am I Blue into a triumphant number about getting over that man.
Authors don’t really do that very often. At least I can’t think of an example off-hand. So do it for them. You’ve already paid your fair share at the local library. Your tax dollars at work–not using it at least now and then is wasting your own money. So go in sometime and pick up a random book off of the shelf.
You never know…