January 13, 2019

I know a lot of people use Spotify or Pandora, but for awhile now YouTube has been my jam when I’m at a computer. YouTube Red gets rid of the advertising and their playlists are pretty good. It’s also nice to have the ability to mix music videos and live shows.

I want to point out two videos that have occasionally popped up on my playlists recently. They’re both very striking.


These are both haunting, beautiful songs. Neither is a particular favorite of mine and it isn’t the type of music you listen to all the time. But if you’re in the right mood, they’re just fabulous.

Both these guys are clearly talented. Benjamin Tod as both a songwriter and singer and Charles Bradley as a performer (that’s a Black Sabbath song, incidentally). It’s easy to get caught up sometimes in talent. The first time I heard Heifetz play violin, I was rendered speechless. And when I first saw a Da Vinci painting in person, I had to take a moment to recuperate. I couldn’t understand how someone could make something like that. The same was true for Vermeer.

Talent is a direct symptom of artistry. It’s the part of the iceberg we can see. And we forget what’s underneath.


The first component of artistry is effort. A huge amount of effort. Heaps of practice followed by study for dessert. It may be fun, focused, and satisfying (or completely horrible), but it’s still work. Artists work hard.

I’ve never been to Rome to see the School of Athens, but I’ve seen the Cartoon (study) Raphael did in Milan. It’s exhibited as a work of art itself, and for good reason. And this was just one of a great many studies he did for the final fresco in the Vatican.


But beyond talent and effort, there’s an even more distinguishing characteristic of artistry, which brings me back to those first two music videos. The reason they’re so striking is because those guys are out there. Their talent, effort, and personality is standing out in the cold, biting wind of public opinion.

I wish I had a better word for this. Maverick, audacious, confident (in some way), tenacious. These are all close, but the closest I’ve found is undaunted.

Artists live unafraid of putting themselves out there. Beyond anything else, this is why we admire them so much.

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