Friday, July 03, 2020

Friday Music: A Story and a Song

Forty-five years ago my twin brother and I were living in Santa Cruz. We liked to go out and listen to music and found a musician who played at local venues. We became acquainted with him and even went to his house on occasion for some reason or other. One night at one of his shows, he had a guest with him, a visitor who was staying at his house. Some time during intermission he asked us if we would give his guest a ride home to his house. We said yes, and thus began our short time driving the author Tom Robbins to his destination. Michael and I had both read Another Roadside Attraction and were quite thrilled to be spending time with the author. We started a conversation though, that I will never forget. I think it was about a particular paragraph in his book that we disagreed with. Here is the paragraph:
“The most important thing in life is style. That is the style of one's existence the characteristic mode of one's actions is basically ultimately what matters. For if man defines himself by doing then style is doubly definitive because style describes the doing. The point is this happiness is a learned condition. And since it is learned and self generating it does not depend upon external circumstances for its perpetuation. This throws a very ironic light on content. And underscores the primacy of style. It is content or rather the consciousness of content that fills the void. But the mere presence of content is not enough. It is style that gives content the capacity to absorb us to move us it is style that makes us care.”
We wanted to know how style could be more important than content. It made no sense to us. Although these days in the modern world we do see how style takes up way more space than content ever will. It still does not rise to importance of content. Style did not get us to the moon, but it did get us doing a moonwalk dance! LOL!

Let's just say the conversation did not go anywhere significant. It was awkward and silly, but I'll never forget it. In retrospect I'm a bit embarrassed that we actually did this, but when we're young it's easier to say whatever is on our minds.

A few years later the musician came out with an album that has the same title as the book Tom Robbins published in 1976. So, here is that song, Even Cowgirls Get The Blues. The book was later made into a movie directed by Gus Van Sant in 1993.

24 comments:

  1. Such an interesting post Andrea. I absolutely agree with you. Poor content, or even lack of it, has made our world a sad shallow place. I think I understand why Mr Robbins thinks style is important - as an artist/designer I can't ignore it because good style adds to the beauty in the world too. But style alone is empty. That paragraph explains everything that is wrong with much of contemporary culture.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Dr Michelle-- Yes, style is so important. Content must be the underpinning though, the thrust of imagination and creativity.

      Delete
  2. Debates about style versus content have been going on for ever, so it's hardly a surprise that you didn't come up with the answers on a car journey. I well remember those kind of conversations though, mainly with my friends Andy and Sue in the gazebo where they made their home. Lucky you didn't give a ride to Robert M Pirsig or you might still be arguing in that car today!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. John-- You made us laugh out loud about Robert M Pirsig. Now that would have been one long interesting ride and conversation!

      Delete
  3. I loved Tom Robbin's books. I may have to reread his books, just for the fun of it. How exciting it must have been to talk with him.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Colette-- Writing this post made me want to re-read Another Roadside Attraction. A brief conversation that has stayed with me for over 45 years!

      Delete
  4. I'm with you, style will never be more important that content. I would argue that style is dependent on content and not the other way around. But hey, I'm not a gazillion copy bestselling author. Very cool story.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. 37paddington-- Yes, I completely agree. Style is absolutely dependent on content... otherwise what would be the underpinnings? You just made me think of Trump, style without content and hardly any real style at all.

      Delete
  5. there's a quote...presentation is everything. basically if your style is right it will overshadow content. we primates are easily swayed by shiny things.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. ellen-- I've never heard that quote before, but I think it's right. Yes, we primates really are easily swayed.

      Delete
  6. I may have read all of Tom Robbins' books, but never saw that movie. Wonder if I can find it anywhere...Cowgirls was a racy story. Style and content argument...never thought about it actually.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Barbara-- I love that you've read all of Tom Robbins' books. I only read Another Roadside Attraction and Even Cowgirls Get the Blues. I hope you can find the movie.

      Delete
  7. That was one cool ride and I admire your moxie to go toe to toe with him. I totally agree with you. Wonder if your argument made an impression on him.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Patti-- It really was a cool ride. I was surprised we actually voiced our opinions. I don't think we persuaded him in any way.

      Delete
  8. Replies
    1. Catalyst-- He really had a lovely voice back then. Haven't heard him in years.

      Delete
  9. Good for you and your brother for engaging Tom Robbins in that conversation!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. am-- Being young sometimes makes us very brave!

      Delete
  10. I think I read Another Roadside Attraction many years ago, too long ago to remember much about it other than what the attraction was. And I know the song.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Mark-- Honestly I hardly remember anything about the book, and I think I would like to read it again.

      Delete
  11. I’ve never read Robbins’ book but am tempted to see if the local library has a copy based on this post, Robin. Disagreeing with someone’s point of view is never wrong, so kudos to you and your brother for doing so.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Beatrice-- I remember really liking Tom Robbins' books, but I don't remember I thing about the story line. My memory ain't what it used to be!

      Delete
  12. You have met the most interesting people! They just fall into your path time and time again. I think I have read all of Robbins' books. Free wheeling and off the charts philosophically! Much of it I didn't understand and wonder how I would take to them at this ripe old age.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Tara-- If I could put up with a lengthy novel again, I would try Another Roadside Attraction to see what I'd make of it 45 years later.

      Delete