June 23, 2003

Miles Davis On Art
-- by Lawrence Raab

"The only way to make art," Miles Davis
said, "is to forget what is unimportant."
That sounds right, although the opposite
also feels like the truth. Forget
what looks important, hope it shows up.

later to surprise you. I understand
he meant you've got to clear
your mind, get rid of everything
that doesn't matter. But how can you tell?
Maybe the barking of a dog at night.

is exactly what you need
to think about. "Just play within
the range of the idea,"
Charlie Parker said. The poem
that knows too quickly what's important

will disappoint us. And sometimes
when you talk about art
you mean it, sometimes you're just
fooling around. but once he had the melody
in place, he could never leave it behind

and go where he wanted, trusting
the beautiful would come to him, as it may
to a man who's worked hard enough
to be ready for it. And he was,
more often than not. That was what he knew.

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