love to love. love to hate. our ongoing battle with the humanity of artists. . .

love to love. love to hate. our ongoing battle with the humanity of artists. . .

[singlepic id=322 w=150 h=150 float=right]People have often asked me how I can be such a champion of the feminine but also openly adore Jackson Browne, what with his tarnished reputation regarding his past relations with women. And others feel similarly about Leonard Cohen as well (though of him, they are a bit more forgiving), who has published lyrics like “giving me head on the unmade bed” and whose prose contains many descriptive, sexually vivid and profane passages that seem to, at times, objectify and belittle women. I saw them both in concert recently and got to mulling over these ideas again. As an artist who writes often about being present, transcending the muck and  yadda yadda yadda, I am also met with criticism when my humanity seems to “fail me” in the public eye . . . I got to mulling over this strange relationship between fans and artists and came up with a couple things to chew on. . .

[singlepic id=326 w=320 h=240 float=left]#1  Artists are most often stewards of the Art, not wholly responsible for the “creation”, nor is the art responsible for the artist.

I believe that Art is conceived in the same place from which all creation comes . . . this mysterious force that creates song and sculpture is the same one that animates the grasses, bees, bacteria, fish, and all things we call “alive.”  In the beginning, we artists feel that we are the ones creating; but as time moves on, we (hopefully) realize we are instruments of some greater force at work.  Hopefully, as artists, we escort our egos out of the way and allow this force to use us,  allow our experiences to inform – and the talents we’ve cultivated to merge with – this “inspiration” the best we can.  Some call it God; others call it a “muse”, and others just bow before the mystery and allow it to move through them, nameless but sacred. This process doesn’t exempt artists from being humans. . . nor does it mean that violence and suffering are not a very real part of our humanity and our healing.

[singlepic id=323 w=320 h=240 float=right]Both Leonard and Jackson clearly and openly share in many songs and interviews how the muse moves through them and that they understand their role as stewards of such inspired works. One of the things I love most about the songwriting of both of these fellas is that grace is truly evident in the muck of the profane and that is what I believe makes their songs so eternally nourishing for the rest of us.

#2  Art that reflects our humanity is not always pretty, nor are its makers.

[singlepic id=327 w=320 h=240 float=left]Lets face it, even the Bible has some pretty controversial tales. They don’t talk a lot in church about when Lot’s daughters got him drunk in the desert in order to seduce him in order to continue the family line. . .  I used to visit the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam when I lived in Holland in college and stare at this painting by Hendrick Goltzius for hours. . . pondering the line between the sacred and the profane and the humanity that seems to be the thread between . . . We are all here living this human experience, and its more often than not poorly-dressed, foul smelling and far from chaste. Life and other people are cruel.  In our weird culture, we place artists on pedestals –  expecting them to be avatars of the divine, never grow old, stay pretty and sexy, and never do evil – then  we become so offended when their humanity shows up in the tabloids. Ironically that same humanity is what drew us to them in the first place.

Its as hard to live up to one’s own lyrics as it’s hard to stick to a 1200 calorie a day diet and perfectly balance family, recreation, and finances.

We are silly animals. We love to project our own fears and insecurities onto those in the public spotlight. . . we wrap our hearts around the songs that speak to our innermost beings and we reject the same intimacy when our heroes “let us down”. . .

We have an opportunity with all clearly flawed and incredibly touched artists to have compassion for both our own and their human experience, and that is a gift to us all and all of our growth and healing. . .

2017-02-09T14:50:52+00:00November 27th, 2012|


  1. Mojo Elvis November 27, 2012 at 9:59 pm

    nice writeup and explanation, you are an enlightened soul, much love and respect…


  2. Bob Colonna November 27, 2012 at 10:13 pm

    The huge section of the public really, really want their artistic idols to fail in some big way, so they can feel superior to them. “See– too big for their britches!” It’s a fairly horrible thought, but how else explain supermarket tabloids? It’s like driving slowly past a traffic accident, but more fun. I agree that an artist’s work should stand alone — well, up to a point– separate from their lives and behaviors. In our day, this is almost impossible to ask, of course, and it’s always been hard. Ask anybody to name three Van Gogh paintings, and good luck, but they sure know about that there ear, don’t they!

  3. wendy November 28, 2012 at 2:32 pm

    Yeah, Bob. I have always thought that as well. . . so weird, eh? Kris Kristofferson said it best in “Jesus was a Capricorn” . .. ‘Cause everybody’s gotta have somebody to look down on; Prove they can be better than at any time they choose; Someone doin’ somethin’ dirty decent folks can frown on
    If you can’t find nobody else, then help yourself to me . . .”

  4. wendy April 26, 2013 at 3:23 pm

    one of my favorite songs of all times, bob!

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