They handed out the Pulitzer Prizes today, honoring the year’s best work in journalism.
You may be familiar with the Pulitzer-winning feature story. I wrote about it a year ago. It’s worth revisiting:
(The April 4, 2007) Washington Post Magazine had this remarkable story: They got concert violinist Joshua Bell to be a street musician at a Washington, D.C., subway station so they could gauge the reaction of passersby.
I hadn’t heard of Joshua Bell, but he’s one of the world’s top violinists, and has a little rock star in him. He was up for the challenge. He played six pieces in 43 minutes at the L’Enfant Plaza station. He played a violin made by Antonio Stradivari almost 300 years ago.
Of the 1,097 people who walked past that Friday morning in January, seven stopped. Passersby dropped $32.17 into Bell’s violin case.
Of one gent who walked right past, Gene Weingarten wrote:
“There’s nothing wrong with (the man’s) hearing. He had buds in his ear. He was listening to his iPod.
“For many of us, the explosion in technology has perversely limited, not expanded, our exposure to new experiences. Increasingly, we get our news from sources that think as we already do. And with iPods, we hear what we already know; we program our own playlists.”
That is why I so enjoy the music blogs, and why I started this one. How can we learn about new music (or new-to-us music) if you don’t share it with me, or if I don’t share it with you?
I’m not putting down iPods or the people who love them. Both are here to stay.
But there is something to be said for blasting tunes so that all can hear. You might hear something you dig. You might meet someone cool. You might make a lifelong friend. You might have a revelation.
John Picarello did. He stopped to listen to Joshua Bell that morning in the subway station. He stopped and listened, astonished, for nine minutes.
I had that same feeling when I first heard the strings on today’s song. I stopped and listened, astonished, at Wilfrid Gibson on violin and Mike Edwards and Colin Walker on cello.
“Roll Over Beethoven,” Electric Light Orchestra, from “ELO II,” 1973.
I liked it when I heard it … wow, 35 years ago already? I liked it again today. Turn it up. I intend to. Someone else — perhaps our 13-year-old son — might hear it for the first time and dig it.