If you know me, you’ve heard me call Twitter a ‘cesspool.’ That’s one of the few absolutes I believe. Yet every day I do a drive-by (or a few) on that site to keep up with music and news. I often roll my eyes at some of the Tweets. But every now and then Twitter redeems itself because I learn about musicians I probably wouldn’t have come across otherwise. Today I ‘met’ Charlie Shafter, and once again, I proclaimed Twitter’s (temporary) redemption.
Shafter’s music is unique. I listen to a lot of music—more than most. I meet a lot of musicians, in part because I often travel with my daughters to their gigs. I’ve always gone in for the unique, one reason I fell in love with Bob Dylan when I was an aspiring tween writer who planned to save the world. I failed at my mission, eventually resigning myself to saving myself.
Shafter’s “Sea Wall” is pure poetry set to musical notes. When I hear a line like “I see curls in the wind as the storm’s getting close”, it stops me. “Curls” works both ways—for hair and wind. If you think about it. Shafter is a troubadour—telling stories in music. His voice lends itself perfectly. I can actually understand what he’s saying because his voice doesn’t blur words when he sings, and nowadays, that’s unusual.
His Twitter page is a lot of fun. He seems apolitical, opting wisely for philosophy instead of the partisan politics so many artistic types embrace today in part because some see politics as a way to advance their careers. He comments about the music industry every now and then, and this one caught my eye:
“I think I’ve cured the music industry. Make only one vinyl copy of your record and sell it to the highest bidder. We’re artists, right? Isn’t that how other artists do it?”
Grim memories of my book tours (marketing mandated by my publishing contracts) made me wish you could do that for a book too.
Shafter also weighs in on our cultural evolution:
“We live in a world where we are afraid to let our friends park in front of out neighbor’s house, let alone borrow a cup of sugar. Also, you don’t have to talk to them to see if their power is out either. You simply have to search for their WiFi.”
I listened to several of Shafter’s songs, and I think “Sea Wall” is my favorite. You can visualize what he’s singing about, and best of all, the song takes me on a journey. Not many songs do that nowadays. I like the touches of harmony the female vocalist Brandy Zdan added—both voices mesh together very nicely.
I bumped into Shafter’s Twitter page by way of musician Zac Wilkerson’s page. I’m glad I did. After a Twitter drive-by, I usually feel like I do after cutting our grass—in need of a shower. But when I find music that brings me pleasure, I somewhat forgive Twitter’s schizoid tendencies. And when I find certain lines, I am reminded that musicians and poets can sometimes nail the truth with a few words like these:
“If they don’t clap, you still bow.”
Yep, that’s gig life and music life in general.
My daughter just walked into my house. First thing I did was tune up “Sea Wall.” Rebecca’s exact words after listening are:
“He’s a helluva lyricist. He’s awesome.”
(Kay B. Day/August 7, 2018)