Duncan Christy: "Why Did This Moron Go Into Music?"
“Why did the moron go into music?” the old joke goes. “For the money.” It’s a joke I sometimes think of when I wonder why musicians do it. But the answer is always easy: We do it “for the music.” Does anything bathe you soul more than music? Does anything electrify your soul more than music? If yes, I’d like to know what it is. I’m a singer-songwriter out of the New York area who believes what Steve Jobs clearly believed: that music has a unique power to move people. Moving people is quite literally what I wish to do with music. On The Bright Side of my song cycle, “The Blue State Blues,” there’s a song called “Marching Orders,” and each verse begins, “You’ve got to move your feet.” We do! We do if we wish to get things done in this crazier-by-the-minute culture. Some of those things are to get us ahead as a civilization. And some of those things are to resist being dragged backward by people who would prefer to live, it seems, in a time when few but “The White Men Who Run Things” – a song from The Dark Side of the same cycle – had any real rights. It’s tragic that such people exist, but they are all too real, all too dangerous and all too destructive. And if unresisted, they will prevail. I began by playing guitar, which I still play. I can write honestly that my most cherished physical possession in this life is a Martin D-28 bought from Matt Umanov when his store was still a hole-in-the-wall on Bedford Street in Manhattan. (It’s today a much handsomer and larger affair on nearby Bleecker.”) That axe drove much of my first song cycle, called “Marathon,” in the late 1980s, a day in the life of a typical adult American professional. But I’d already grasped that the premier instrument of composition is the piano, and that’s my primary composing and performing instrument now. I keep things lean by performing solo. I miss other musicians, of course, and a rhythm section and harmony vocals. But I can roam more widely, and thus I do, principally now in behalf of Democratic Party causes and candidates. The music is rich enough, audiences have told me. Since the “Occupy Wall Street” and the “We Are the 99%” movements have begun, the press and others have been wondering: Where are the anthems? I’d say they’re all over “The Blue State Blues.” Here’s the mission statement of the cycle: “The Blue State Blues” is a cycle of songs in two parts, a Dark Side and a Bright Side. In the Dark Side, which begins with “Bush’s War,” I attempt to sicken, outrage and disgust you with everything that has happened in Iraq and elsewhere – and is still happening. In the Bright Side, I attempt to inspire you to convert those emotions into the determination to “seize the day, seize the hour, seize the tools of your rightful power.” And here’s the signature refrain: “We’ve paid our dues, And now it’s time to win, not lose, And paint the U.S. the Blue State Blues. . .” You can see me work at YouTube: Duncan Christy + “The Blue State Blues.” The good video (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ov-7GAjWaIs) is by my sweetheart’s son, who knows what he’s doing. And there’s plenty more at the straightforward website we’ve built for it: DuncanChristy.com But if you go to the site, you’ll see that there’s much more to my work. I’m the composer of a full-length musical about the magazine industry called “Magazine.” Having worked for years as a successful magazine feature writer and editor, I heeded the advice to “write about what you know.” And so my darkly funny show concerns a tumultuous day in the life of the staff of Magazine magazine. And I’ve just finished my next piece of musical theatre, which is entirely different - more romantic, amorous and sexy. Two lovers meet in the later afternoon to celebrate their passion. To leave their too-busy lives, that is, and concentrate on what is purest and most intense for them, both physically and emotionally. There’s a hotel room, there’s Champagne and there’s amour (one of life’s most beautiful words). And 17 songs, some of them sung by the Goddess of Love. I’m grateful to have had the opportunity to live and work in music, to have the opportunity to put into words and notes what I regard as most essential in life. Ultimately, it’s essential to be positive, and that’s why my music is. A song from “The Blue State Blues” sums it up for me, and, gospel-flavored, it goes by the title of “Let the Glory Out!” The chorus is this: “Let the glory out! Let the glory out! It’s time to be discoverin’ just what it’s all about! The voice of jubilation will tame the voice of doubt! So open that voicebox and let the glory out!”