This is a little window into my life, to introduce this blog and myself.

My name is Cooper Walker, I grew in LA in the ’90s as the first of 3 children born to my father Jim, a bartender and my mother Lynda, a masseuse. Both from New York, my parents moved to Los Angeles in the ’80s where they met and fell in love. Their marriage lasted until I was 9, when they filed for divorce and I went to live with my dad in West LA.

I was raised on the music of the ’60s and ’80s – my father loved The Beatles and The Rolling Stones, my mom went for David Bowie and The Cure. Later on I discovered Jimi Hendrix and Mark Knopfler and fell in love with the guitar. My dad elected to get me guitar lessons and I was off to the races. I spent every free moment playing and practicing everything my incredible teacher, Pete Snell, would give me. He turned me on to Bird, Bach and Bossa Nova. I still can’t play that shit but I can fool most people on a good day.Because it will help you focus your own ideas about your blog and what you’d like to do with it.

Not long after getting my first real axe around age 12 was I to be seen out playing local bars and cafes and even on the streets of Santa Monica busking for tips. If I was playing more than 45 minutes I would have to double back and start over because I only knew about 15 songs. I remember dreading those Sunday afternoons on the 3rd Street Promenade, when my fingers would be numb from the cold wind, playing on .013 gauge strings for an audience of busy pedestrians on their way to lunch or the Apple Store. Most days I was lucky to make the parking fee back. One day I made over $400 dollars.

And so at a very young age I was introduced to the lifestyle of a musician. Long, thankless, bizarre hours of preparation, fleeting few action-packed spurts of performance, rinse and repeat. It was, is and shall forever be feast or famine, it pours when it rains except when it doesn’t it can be days, weeks, months or years… But it’s not all that bad. The point is that there is no point. I do it for the love of it. It is an end in itself and for that reason it is my religion. Of course, it’s always nice to feel appreciated and those precious times when the window opens and a connection is made, all is well.Whattopics do you think you’ll write about?

Music has a special power to connect us all on the deepest of levels and make sense of the absurd. It’s abstract structure allows the composer to take the listener to any place or any time and capture this essence in a moment which we can now incredibly store and keep with us to access whenever needed. I still sparingly listen to my favorite pieces, in a way to spare them the scrutiny of analyzation. It’s difficult as a practitioner of this lost art to turn the mind off and simply allow the ear to explore. The temptation is constantly to understand the mechanism behind the trick and thereby relieve it of its magic.

There can be no doubt we are living in the Information Age. Technology has revolutionized every aspect of modern day life for a large majority of the world’s population. This transformation has by no means spared the world of art from it’s inescapable grasp. The state of music production has entered a stage of perfection – of perfectly synchronized sonic phenomena, compiled neatly on a color-coded computer screen which casts it’s unmistakable signature on each and every product that comes off the line. There are of course wonderful exceptions to this rule, but they are basically that – a counter-argument to the undeniable current which has taken hold. Tech has made it easier than ever for a formulaic, industry-minded culture to calcify. Forget exploring new structures. Forget re-imagining harmony and challenging the expectation of the ear. Why not simply create an algorithm to identify those trends which are the least disagreeable, the most relatable in terms of lyrical content, and which most closely resemble those instances of creativity which have worked to produce revenue for those who already have it in the past?

I’ll tell you why. Because nothing great was ever accomplished comfortably. The very intent of formulaic thinking is counter to the spirit of creativity. The medium is the message. Any artist must must contend with the impression their instrument makes on the finished piece. However, that impression has become too much for any one person to handle. The complexity of the software which in essence stores the sonic identity of a raindrop hitting a palm frond in Indonesia (and every other obscure timbre imaginable) in a never-ending sequence of 1’s and 0’s is not something which is reachable by someone who is also undertaking to make an intimate connection to harmony and melody and the other elements of music. Therefore we have indeed gone too far to leave the imagination intact. The only solution is to further specialize, into songwriters, producers, engineers, singers, and players.

The music of the Information Age is not without its charm. It has produced novel marvels of astounding complexity and depth of ingenuity. And there are also those supreme individuals who defy convention to prove that man can withstand the tide and learn to speak the language as proficiently, it seems, as any computer can. But these are hardly the norm. These are the dying embers of a forgotten time when man could conquer his creation and command them completely. Now we must compromise. It’s far too much to take on the whole and so each must take a part. Which changes the culture. This is all to say that for no good reason, we have yielded to perfection in the name of art. But art was never about perfection. It’s about redemption. But not from imperfection. Rather art redeems life through explaining a deeper meaning to the trials and tribulations. It speaks to a higher purpose. It offers a glimpse of God.

Why then are we so obsessed with making things sound exactly right? What human being can possibly relate to this impossible metric? Not a one of us is as perfect as pop music in the technological 21st century would have you believe. But then again, this isn’t the object of formulaic music at all. Like most products these days, it isn’t designed to uplift you, or to remind you of your connection to the most mystical parts of experience. It’s simultaneously the result of and the means by which an unconscious pattern repeats itself. There is a difference between testifying and telling. The difference is intent. One is a soul’s effort to describe its state. The other is an attempt at affecting one. Let us testify. To the glory that is creation. To the magic which is music. To the gift which is life. Let us be honest and humble, and above all be ourselves. And let us do this without shame or judgement, for its the fear of these things which stop us being free to express the truth in each of us.

Published by Cooper Walker

Los Angeles born and based singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist.

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