The Perfect Wrong Note

The Perfect Wrong Note


A little music in honor of St. Paddy’s Day. As I wrote in an essay for Cordella recently, I fell in love with traditional Irish music as a struggling teenager, when a wonderful teacher introduced me to it. This music felt visceral and wild as any Nirvana bootleg and put an ecstatic hum alongside my heartaches. Eventually I started noodling around, learning to sing and play it, and I even performed at museums & elsewhere; but eventually anxiety overtook me and for many years I stopped playing in public.

That started to change after some magical open mic nights at the Bennington Writing Seminars. Also transformative for me: a book called The Perfect Wrong Note by William Westney. (If you love to play but aren’t doing it because you’re self-conscious and rusty, maybe give it a read.) Yeah, I still cringe at my bow-squeaks and wayward notes, but these feisty old songs are like a drug for me… and if you, too, are the sort who loves Nirvana bootlegs–well, maybe there’s more to musical joy than polish and gloss. 

Here are a few snippets of a live show I did with my musical comrade Eli Burrell in Bennington, VT.

Little Beggar Man (fiddle tune & song)

Poor Old Horse (sea chantey singalong)

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