It’s been six months since Garth Hudson came to my town, and I now look back at the event with a more realistic view.
Garth and Maud, his wife and musical partner, were performing at a local club as part of a benefit to bring music into the schools but it didn’t quite work out as planned. It ended up costing the promoter money and raising nothing at all while drawing a mostly negative reaction from those who were expecting a major star (or someone who used to be).
Prior to the Hudsons’ arrival I wrote a preview of the show based on a 30-minute phone interview with Hudson. It worked as a local daily newspaper piece, but it was difficult pulling anything quotable out of his rambling conversation since he never really answered my specific questions. Even though the article came out on schedule it was clear that his answers really weren’t operating in the same zone as my questions.
I thought that I would do something with the unedited interview some day, but wasn’t really sure how I would fit his round-the-block discourse into a square journalistic box.
His three nights in our town was pretty challenging, especially for those who wanted him to follow any kind of program. Some of this was basic. like trying to get him onstage at a time approximating showtime. Other goals were unrealistic, like my desire to get him to a church with a huge antique pipe organ and make a video of the event.
About three weeks after he left town I wrote a personal account, the subject of mixed reaction when it was posted here in November. Some people were grateful for a peek behind the curtain, while others chastised me for unrealistic expectations and a lack of respect. The truth was somewhere in between. While writing the story I took some dramatic license, even though I held back on some of the stories that showed the Hudsons in a negative light. Strip away the whole genius thing, and the story read like an account of two fussy old people who get upset when things aren’t just so.
Six months later everything’s slowed down enough that I can put it all in perspective. I took the original audio tape and edited it slightly so it could be split in two parts and put on YouTube, adding pictures taken during that week. While doing this I listened to old Band albums, specifically Stage Fright and Rock of Ages, realizing again how fucking great they were.
It then becomes clear. I was approaching the Hudsons’ visit as a journalist, intent on capturing and interpreting the moment to provide a different aspect on a time and place that is too closely examined. If I had approached it as a fan I may have enjoyed myself a bit more, or at least had some realistic expectations.
Listening to/watching these excerpts, posted below, it’s clear that I have inadvertently achieved the goal to add something new to the conversation, with a probable better result than if I had managed to coax Hudson onto the antique organ. Add this all together (the two published articles, the video-audio clips and a final word) and you get a pretty good portrait of a guy: Why he matters, and what he is doing today.