I received an interesting correspondence from a member who expressed an interest in discussing the implications of David’s choices of favorite music and musical artists, as evidenced by things like his “song of the day” suggestions. The only concern I have about highlighting this as a topic is our ability to confine discussion here to David’s artistic interests and inclinations. Comments could very easily lead to speculation about David’s personal life and private thoughts, and as those are not supported categories of discussion on notingDavid (at least not until such time as David decides to make them public knowledge), I would ask that we please be extremely careful and respectful in this regard.
I did want to blog about this perhaps especially because the member who wrote to me expresses what I fear is a fairly common set of perceptions and expectations among the DA fan base, views that I feel are at least in part somewhat misguided. In regards the song, “A Stranger in Moscow,” my correspondent speculates on what contributes to David’s enthusiasm for this song:
…Is it the “message” -? That’s what scares me about our David liking this song. His life to present has been so “special” – does he feel isolated deep inside – does he feel he has to go out in the rain at night to find new friends?
And, later on, this:
… (I) wonder what a “young”, barely-18-year-old-Mormon-boy with such wonderful gifts and talents sees in Jason Mraz …I guess I’m “judging” him personally with lyrics (such as those) from “Butterfly” that just don’t seem to fit with the image of what I feel DA is trying to create.
First and foremost, I do not agree that David is trying to create or maintain a particular public image. That strikes me as far too contrived for him. David simply is who he is, and as many have already remarked, not all of his fans are likely to agree with all of his choices as his career unfolds, and I dare say quite a few of them are likely to be very surprised by a few things–especially things like lyrics.
Even though I do not believe it is a contrivance, David’s public persona is just that — the public face of a private person. I do not believe it is disingenuous, but neither does it represent by any means all that David is as a person. It is enticing to buy into the “sweet Mormon boy” image (an image created not by him but by public interpretations of his manner and his biography), but this view is a caricature. David may be sweet and he may be Mormon, but he is also a fully realized human being, now an adult, with all that that implies.
All one has to do is listen to any of the slightly more serious songs that David has recorded and it is instantly clear that he has a depth of understanding about the human condition that suggests both an inner and outer life that involves far more complexity and contradiction than may be hinted at in any dimension of his expression or persona except his music. As I have said before, David does “darkness” very well. Michael Jackson is a highly controversial figure, and it does not surprise me that David identifies with him; the innate musical genius, the child-like wonder, and, yes, the isolation, the darkness, of being so uncommon.
As for the highly sexualized nature of the some of the music produced by some of David’s favorite artists, just because David currently chooses not to engage in such expressions in his own work, doesn’t mean he rejects or cannot appreciate such aspects in the work of others. I confess I would be far more concerned if David harbored some categorical repudiation of anything beyond the bounds of strict piety (I’ve decided to consider the shorts drawing incident an aberration; besides, life and art are two very different worlds for David). That is decidedly not the framework within which artistic temperament tends to flourish.
Finally, I have a distinct sense that we will always know a lot more about David from his music and from his appreciation and discussion of music than we will ever know otherwise. On the one hand, I think it is easy to read too much into these musical selections, on the other hand they are probably more revealing than any interview will ever be.