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Home » Rock n Rolla

Live: Still standing

Submitted by on April 10, 2010 – 6:01 amNo Comment

With sounds to soothe a spiritually strained soul and a metaphysical method to music making that can cause a creationist to consider personal philosophy, there is no questioning why Live is still standing on and singing Songs from Black Mountain, 16 years after dropping their first gem, Mental Jewelry.

Backed by solid sticks and slick strings, and fronted by Ed Kowalczyk, a man…a mastermind…who in that year, 1991, crooned, “If I don’t know who to love/I love them all/And if I don’t know who to trust/I trust them all/And if I don’t know who to kill/I may kill myself instead,” Live softly sank their soles into an arable piece of public property known as universal appeal.

“In the beginning you love music but you also have all these dreams of the big tours, the tour buses and all the things that young guys dream about,” Kowalczyk says. “That’s still there but what has stood the test of time, and really is more important than ever, is the fan connection. That’s something that makes me recommit myself every night, it’s this special relationship that we have with our fans.”

Since Mental Jewelry, Kowalczyk, Chad Gracey, Patrick Dalheimer and Chad Taylor, four friends from York, Pennsylvania, have not only constructed a solid connection to their constituents, but crafted countless classics from Throwing Copper to Birds of Pray, to their newest creation, Songs from Black Mountain, with an appeal to aesthetics that has earned them ears world round.

Singles like Pain Lies on the Riverside, Lightning Crashes, I Alone, Lakini’s Juice, The Dolphin’s Cry, Heaven and The River – to name but a few – have kept Live’s legend afloat in liquid that Kowalczyk, like Thales before him, views as a metaphor for spirit, consciousness, awareness and the flow of life.

While comparing the soft-spoken introvert to a pre-Socratic who believed water to be ultimate reality may be a deep plunge, what these two metaphysicians unquestionably do have in common is their uncanny attraction to, and appreciation for, the philosophy of nature.

“When you’re in nature you see how there’s this immense intelligence going about making all this beauty and when you’re an artist trying to go to that deep part of who you are, if you’re nailing it in terms of surrendering your ego and you feel at one with the mystery of life, you become a part of it,” Kowalczyk says. “It makes you feel like you’re singing its song – trees don’t sing, they need people to do that. Writing music, for me, feels like you’re playing part of the whole creative process of the universe.”

Though art may be a small part of the parcel that is this incomprehensible cosmos, for musicians like Kowalczyk, a man who meditates, masks metaphors like a magician and once wrote, “It was an evening I shared with the sun/To find out where we belong/From the earliest days/We were dancing in the shadows,” it is a sign that music and beauty can, and do, work symbiotically.

“Beautiful music is something that I want to get inside of. It does something to me internally that makes me go to a place inside of myself that I feel is beautiful, and music is a great vehicle for that if it’s done well.”

And done it well they have. For nearly two decades Live have remained relevant to and been revered by their fans, floated effortlessly through the flaw-full fluidity of the music machine, and sustained what Kowalczyk calls “the innate chemistry of a four-element unit” that formed while the 30-something-year-olds were still high school students.

With 20 million albums under their boots, there’s nothing to prove, people to reach and teach, and three reasons these modern minstrels continue to march – the same reason they first picked up their picks, sticks and mics – the medium, the medley and the message.

“Since we started the band I like to think that we’ve made some kind of influence and impact on people’s lives and caused them to question the way they think about things,” Kowalczyk says. “I think if you feel something as an artist, you should say it. Even if it’s uncool or not the rock and roll thing to say, you owe it to your fans, you owe it to people to speak out.”

Remi L. Roy

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