I got a B- in Marxism in college. In fact, I’m pretty sure I pulled an all-nighter with the Cliffs Notes Communist Manifesto to pass the final exam, so I’m not sure if what I’m remembering as the Marxist dialectic is actually the Marxist dialectic, but I did learn one very important thing in Marxism 101: There is no such thing as objective truth. Marx believed that truth is relative depending on one’s material circumstances. The notion that Truth with a capital T did not exist blew my mind at age 21 and has stayed with me though the years, helping me sort out the world, though I don’t think money is the only thing that defines one’s reality.
…which brings me to the topic of last night’s Daryl Hall concert at the Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center in Great Barrington. I was never a huge Hall and Oates fan, though of course the lyrics to their many 80s neo-soul hits (Rich Girl, Kiss on My List, Sara Smile, and She’s Gone, to name but a few — the duo sold more than 60 million albums) are engraved onto my generation’s DNA.
I looooved the concert and while nostalgia was part of my response, it wasn’t the dominant element. Daryl sang a lot of his hits, but with looser, more ragged and free wheeling arrangements than the originals. The band of veteran musicians rocked. Daryl held court in what I perceived to be a relaxed, dignified, generous, soulful, and utterly seductive and charismatic manner. The upper registers of his voice aren’t what they once were, but he sang the hell out of the songs, delivering them as himself in the present, not as a washed up pop star clinging to his former glory. And he looked darn good. Whatever vitamins he’s taking: they’re working.
I gather that lately he’s been broadcasting concerts from his house in nearby Dutchess County. The Mahaiwe performance felt similarly intimate and done just for the fun of it. Daryl doesn’t need to prove anything to anyone. I had the sense that he was performing because he loves music. There’s no better gift for an audience.
Soooo…I was surprised by my friend Seth’s review of the concert this morning. It’s like he saw a different show. Marx helps me understand how that was possible.