#rawthought: Starfish, Coffee, and Dooba Dooba Dooba
I chanced upon two things this morning that really struck a chord (you’ll get the pun when you see that both are about famous musicians).
First, my Twitter feed offered up this jewel of an article about Carol Kaye called “The Beach Girl Behind the Beach Boys”. The Beach Boys were what I was raised on in 1970’s southern California, and I spent countless Saturdays dancing with my mother to their records as we put away the laundry and dusted the bookshelves. I was thrilled and surprised to find out about Carol – like most women behind the scenes- we rarely hear about them despite their influence. What a life! Seriously, they need to make a biopic about her starring Jennifer Lawrence, I think. I won’t give away too much (please read for yourself), but one thing she mentioned really popped off the screen. When discussing what it was like to work with Beach Boy Brian Wilson, she reminisced:
“Wilson was less dictatorial, more experimental. He’d say, ‘Okay, can you do a dooba dooba dooba?…and we’d go, ‘What’s a dooba dooba dooba?’ ”
And there you have it. The key to creative life- being experimental...seeing beyond the norm. I mentioned this in a previous post about my daughter, who surprised me with this sort of unconventional thought as she “knocked on paper” in lieu of wood. Also, I think, it’s about a
“What if?” mentality rather than a “We (or you) Should” approach
This works well for embarking on a project to be sure, but even for constructive criticism – instead of saying what could be improved or what you didn’t like, why not use
“Love it…What if…?
That way, you acknowledge at least one positive aspect of someone’s work and encourage them to think about improving it, but in a non-threatening way (let’s face it, even the most creatively confident can get really defensive when facing judgement).
But back to the dooba dooba dooba. I’ve long loved the Friedrich Nietzsche quote:
To me this points to the loneliness we sometimes feel due to our creative thinking. One can fall easily into an abyss of isolation if the perception is no one “gets it” or- worse – “gets you“. Indeed, yesterday was one of my favourite authors, Vladimir Nabokov’s birthday. Maria Popova over at Brainpickings (best site ever) shared his endearing love letters to his wife, Vera. One of the phrases that pierced me was
“Yes, I need you, my fairy-tale. Because you are the only person I can talk with about the shade of a cloud, about the song of a thought — and about how, when I went out to work today and looked a tall sunflower in the face, it smiled at me with all of its seeds”
Aside from the fact I think being called someone’s “fairy-tale” is perhaps the dreamiest thing in the world, I am drawn to this sense of connection to the one person who might understand you and where you are coming from – intellectually, emotionally, creatively.
Later on this morning scrolling through the wealth of Prince posts on my Facebook feed in honour of his work, I came across a lovely little song he did with the Muppets:
It seems as if Prince could write a song about anything – that even the most mundane things became inspiration. The lyrics to “Starfish and Coffee” embrace whimsy as they describe an unconventional “dreamer” type of a girl in Prince’s class at school.
“All of us were ordinary compared to Cynthia Rose She always stood at the back of the line A smile beneath her nose”
The lyrics are almost late Beatles-like, and drive home the notion that
“If U set your mind free, baby Maybe you’d understand”
I’m sure Prince felt in real life as if he were Cynthia Rose. He is quoted as saying something to the effect of “no one needs to understand my music except me” ….and he was categorically against categories. Categories and rigid definitions often disturb highly creative thinkers. We need both, I think –
the rule breakers and the sense-makers.
the creators and the curators.
the builders and the bloggers.
the artists and the academics.
Poignantly, Prince goes on the share about “Cynthia Rose”
“Cynthia had a happy face, just like the one she’d draw On every wall in every school But it’s all right, it’s 4 a worthy cause Go on, Cynthia, keep singin'”
If this song’s vibe reminds you of the Beatles’ Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds, it’s because it evokes that same child-like wonder and freedom. Lyrics for Lucy in the Sky were apparently prompted by a nursery school drawing by Julian Lennon, as well as drawing inspiration from Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland.
We need more people who
think in dooba dooba doobas
We need to nurture the Cynthia Roses who draw on walls and eat “butterscotch clouds, a tangerine, and a side order of ham”.
Most importantly, we need to see the power of match-making..how people who can execute wild ideas (like guitarist Carol Kaye), are equally valuable to a creative society and to the health and well-being of the more extreme creative thinkers. Whatever side of the continuum you place yourself on, try to push yourself a bit in the other direction, or link up with someone on the other side.
I hope that if you, your student or child is a dooba dooba Cynthia Rose type, that you find someone to understand and complement you, to support your dancing in spite of those who cannot hear the music.
Thank you for your music, Prince, Brian, and Carol, and for making the dooba dooba real.
***”a note doesn’t have sex to it” – Carol Kaye (just thought that was a treasure!…it’s from this documentary trailer)