In the seventeenth part of Soul Music, the Band with Rocks In heads to Ankh-Morpork for the free festival, and Albert desperately tries to locate Death. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Discworld.
THE PIECES ARE CONVERGING, IT’S GONNA HAPPEN.
I’m of the opinion that Albert’s role in this part is probably the most suspenseful, and that’s because for one reason: the man is risking his remaining days of life in order to find his friend. Actually, there’s another reason: I HAD NO IDEA HE WAS SUCH A PHYSICALLY INTIMIDATING BADASS, EITHER. Seriously, he threatens Hibiscus. Who does that??? Someone who is determined to make sure they don’t waste a single second more than they have to.
Which worries me, y’all, because of this:
He’d not expected the sound as the body hit the ground. It was like the tinkle of broken glass, but with unpleasant overtones that carried on echoing in Timo’s ears long after they should have stopped.
ARE YOU TELLING ME THAT THIS RANDOM THIEF JUST BROKE ALBERT’S LIFETIME? OH MY GOD, I NEED TO KNOW NOW.
Ah, music festivals. The best and worst place to experience music! I’ve attended more of them than I can count. Hell, the very first time I saw a band live, I was a kid and it was at a pre-Warped Tour punk festival in Los Angeles. Back then, the experience was nothing but incredible. I couldn’t see anything negative about the experience because it was all so overwhelming to me. I was enamored with the spectacle. I had seen a number of of live shows while in high school, and Warped Tour used to be my annual punk rock summer camp before it turned into… I don’t know what. While I love the appeal of getting to see like ten bands I’ve always wanted to see, festivals are also MY LEAST FAVORITE THING. Why is water astronomically high when people can DIE FROM HEAT EXHAUSTION? How is it justifiable to pay $6 for a single, bland taco? WHY DOES EVERYONE AROUND ME INSIST ON SMOKING WEED AND CIGARETTES IN THE MIDDLE OF CROWDS?
Not that festivals are necessarily different than live shows in general, but they also seem to attract more of the type of fan who doesn’t know how to behave around other human beings. I’m mostly referring to the misogynist shitheads at Warped Tour who grope women, or maybe like half the people who attend Coachella. (WHO ARE ALL YOU PEOPLE, WHY DO YOU ACT SO POORLY SO FREQUENTLY.) I think that these days, I don’t really experience the “bad” bands who open festivals as much as I used to. But let me tell y’all about the mid-90s, because it was almost guaranteed that festivals and local shows were full of bands exactly like Crash and his group. I’m sure it still happens in some capacity, but before you could upload videos of terrible bands to the Internet and shame them, I feel like there was a much higher occurrence of this phenomenon. I once watched a band butcher a cover of “Purple Rain” by trying to add a breakdown to it? NO, STOP IT, YOU DON’T GET TO COVER OTHER SONGS ANYMORE.
Anyway, this has little relevance to the text, but I LOVE TALKING ABOUT MUSIC WITH Y’ALL.
OH, I THINK I GET IT. I think! My temporary theory could be proven wrong fairly soon, but WHO CARES, LET ME EMBARRASS MYSELF FOR ALL OF YOU. At this point in Soul Music, it really seemed like Buddy had reached some horrible point of no return. He had started to lash out at the others, and that was when he happened to be awake. WHICH WASN’T OFTEN. Thus, Glod and Cliff came up with a plan to combat this with… well, music. At the heart of their attempt to break Buddy free from the magic that’s controlling them, they repair the very instrument that started this whole nightmare. Look, even if this had nothing to do with the Music, it was still a beautiful gesture, and I don’t imagine it was cheap, either.
However, when Buddy opens his gift, he stops being Buddy. It’s an incredible transformation because at first, I didn’t even notice it. It wasn’t until I saw those double L’s that I figured out what was going on. (Of course, I could be wrong.) What if this instrument breaks the spell because it’s a reminder of who Buddy really is? He’s Imp y Celyn, not buddy, and he came to Ankh-Morpork because he had a genuine passion for music. It had nothing to do with festivals or groupies or fame. He just wanted to play.
So, does he take a different guitar on stage? I didn’t quite catch whether or not he did. I thought that Pratchett was poking fun at that thing that happens when performers just stand there and get cheered at. But what was that spot he was staring at??? Why isn’t he playing? OH… OH MY GOD, HE’S TALKING TO HIS GUITAR, ISN’T HE? Isn’t that what this is???
Clod, who was closest to him, heard him murmur: “Just once? Cwm on? Just one more time? And then I’lll do whatever you want, see? I’ll pay for it.”
There were a few faint chords from the guitar.
Buddy said, “I mean it, see.”
There was another chord.
Buddy smiled at an empty space in the audience, and began to play.
WAIT A SECOND. An empty space in the audience? This detail COMPLETELY WENT OVER MY HEAD WHILE I WAS READING IT. Is that… Susan? Is he talking to Susan??? Y’all, the performance itself is breathtaking, one of the coolest scenes in the whole book. Buddy – er, Imp y Celyn, I suppose – plays from his heart, he plays the music he truly knows and grew up with, and that’s what his bandmates respond with. That sadness that Pratchett references… I think it might be recognition. All of them shed the performance that came with the Music, and they were authentically themselves, just for that brief moment in time.
And then, Buddy picks up the guitar to play, and I’m guessing this is the last time he’ll do so.
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