Today I went in to a car wash in Santa Monica. I was at the cashier’s when the woman behind the counter made a comment about what a TV commentator was saying, which I think hinted of xenophobia. She wasn’t pleased. I commented as well and my remark indicated my political persuasion. She agreed. I asked where she was from (something I don’t normally do, but the conversation seemed to be going that way). She said she was from Armenia. I told her I loved the duduk, the apricot-wood oboe that is the essence of Armenian music. I told her I loved Djivan Gasparyan, the great duduk player (I didn’t tell her I’d met him five or six times, had seen him perform many times, had been involved with presenting him at the Hollywood Bowl during a KCRW World Festival event. It wasn’t necessary. She asked me how I could know such things. I just told her I loved the plaintive sound and depth of Armenian music. She smiled and handed me a discount card for future visits.
Now I couldn’t have a similar conversation with a skateboarder in the Venice skate park, who might be into some new indie band. But since I love world music, it allows me to connect with people of diverse backgrounds.
Music brings people together like nothing else. It also provides connection with the many different people who live in Los Angeles. It’s the most primal of all the arts. It doesn’t live in museums. You find it in the car wash and every place else. It’s part of our daily lives. And, more fundamentally, it lives and breathes in our hearts and souls.