Inspiration: Natalie Merchant

October 24, 2010 — Leave a comment

I haven’t been writing much lately, unless you count long paragraphs of feedback on student papers and projects. But I’m trying to stay inspired by short reading binges and by watching videos of artists and writers on those amazing sites, TED and Big Think.

I fell a little in love with Natalie Merchant all over again…

The TED conference, or whatever it was, served as a perfect venue for her new project, in which she puts mostly forgotten 19th and early 20th century poems to music. (I saw her perform a song on the Today show back when the album came out, and something about 7 a.m. and tourists peering through the giant windows in the background contributed to the sense that Merchant was old and out of touch.)

In the video above, however, she is inspired and inspiring, quirky and cool. The audience was full of her creative peers, so she was in her element. And that she could show images of the poets on the big screen (those old b&w pics are always ghostly and alluring) and talk about their lives, highlighted the fact that this  creative/historical/research project is not just a failed attempt at pop (for which she is known), but a mature artist’s engagement with other artists and other art and other lives.

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