Even if he wanted to, Giant Sand’s Howe Gelb couldn’t repeat himself. Just watch him sing sometime; the guy’s got two vocal mics, one distorted, one clean, and he doesn’t make up his mind which one he’ll be singing into until he’s halfway through his line. Tucson (Fire), Gelb’s latest release (credited to Giant Giant Sand), is named after his Arizona hometown. He will also be guest editing magnetmagazine.com all week.
Gelb: Without the muse, music would just be sick, or just slightly unhealthy. Anyway, where does the muse come into play? Is the muse a yang to the yin? One wonders what propels us to make a music; why do we do it? What is it that instigates the notion that our song matters?
That has always been a funny tingle, as if that inspiration wakes something up inside us that remains dormant otherwise, like a wonderful lazy prowess until the sizzle of inspiration kicks in and bubbles it out of us. But that is “inspiration” and not a muse. The muse is something else. Why it works is more of a mystery than inspiration. Inspiration makes sense, the muse does not.
Maybe its just severely physical the way it taps into the procreation surge in all of us like: meaning, desire, lust, sex and love. But not necessarily in realistic proportions, often just the opposite of realistic, actually.
In my case, whenever a muse beckons, it’s a female. I can never remember a male muse, although most, or all, of my inspirations of song craft and playmanship have been male, the muse has always been female.
When I was very young, sometime before five, I remember hearing a voice down a dark hall calling my name. The voice was not real, but the texture of it was part whisper and definitely female. Whether it was really just in my head or something else down that black empty hall is beside the point; I responded to it. I went looking down that frightening, inky darkness because of the lure of that voice was such a lovely sound, and I think that was when my muse fuse was born.
When I hear some women sing, I become so mused it still makes me dizzy. It’s just in the vibrancy when a muse lights up a room. This happened to me several times on writing some songs for the last album. I still can’t explain it to this day, but a song would begin to assemble. The song mentioned nothing of the muse in content, but it would never have existed without her proximity, a kind of alchemy I think.
So good luck with that, but mostly what the hell to do when the muse comes calling. It’s tricky to follow your muse but it is absolutely torturous when you don’t.
Video after the jump.