Welcomed home by Stanley Jordan (and Bob Edwards)

Joi Ito invited me to be a speaker at the 2008 Ars Electronica Symposium and Festival, held each year in Linz, Austria. I chose to speak about Music, Software, and Sustainable Culture, tying together my free software and free culture sensibilities. But after discharging those responsibilities, and after meeting tons of new people and sharing lots of new information, it was time to come home.

I went to bed at 1:30am local time, with a plan to get up at 4am so that I could be clean, packed, and ready for my 4:45am taxi pickup, 5:30am airline check-in, 6am flight, 8am transfer in Frankfurt, 11am customs arrival in Chicago (+7 hours), 1:30pm departure, and finally 4pm arrival into Raleigh (+ 6 hours from Linz), for a total of 18 hours of travel on two and a half hours of sleep. And it all worked!

Bob Edwards and Stanley Jordan

I got my bags, got into my car, started it up, and was pleased to hear Bob Edwards on WUNC, my local NPR affiliate station. But what really made me happy was hearing him interview Stanley Jordan, one of the great guitar players I’ve never quite met. Many years ago, when I was an undergrad at the University of Pennsylvania, I shared a house with someone who was very seriously studying guitar at that time. He had seen Stanley Jordan (the teenage prodigy) unleash his melodic and harmonic inventions made possible by his inventive and radical tap-style playing, and he described the concert to me as a spiritual experience. Listening to The Magic Touch (1985) I had to agree! More than 20 years later, Stanley Jordan is now a “master musician” and is still preaching with his six-string.

As the interview progressed, Stanley talked more and more about not only the psychic power of music (his interpretation of the descending melody of the world encouraged him to cash out of the stock market before the 2007-2008 financial crisis), but also its healing powers. He talked about music therapy, and the theories and experiences he shared matched well with my own evolving view. Namely, that listening to music, especially really great music, makes me smarter, happier, and more peaceful, not unlike a proper lubricant can make a car’s engine more powerful, more efficient, and less polluting. As he described more and more the ways in which music can unlock healing potential and/or inspire new actions or understanding, it occurred to me that Stanley might find a special connection with the Music Room. I can only imagine how that beautiful and grounded environment might inspire him to preach as never before, and to inspire others to find their inner musicians, hungry to begin their own journeys of spiritual enlightenment and fulfilment.

If you have a connection with Stanley, please put in a good word for me!

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