The Gift of Gabe

By Tyler M. Bryant

Last night, I had the pleasure of playing Fitzgerald’s (for the second time) with two extremely talented musicians. The first of which was a fellow/dude/man/bro Colin Iwanski, who played an incredibly soulful, tight set. Not only is his singing voice the aesthetic equivalent to audio chocolate (a term that has been emblazoned in my memory since I made it up a minute ago), but his guitar playing has virtuosity unrivaled by most professional musicians that I know. He did a version of Radiohead’s “Creep” that shook my spine.

The second performer whom I enjoyed listening to, hanging out with, and generally being around was Gabriel Reynolds. His songwriting is always poignant – whether he’s making social commentary or reflecting on his past, his creations are consistently dynamic in tone and rhetoric, which is a feat that I aspire to as a builder of the music songs myself. His piano playing is varied in technique and influenced by a potluck of some of my favorite influences around (like Frank Ocean, DMB, and the R.Kelly classic “Ignition (Remix)”). Furthermore, the songs that he plays on guitar capture a whole different level of his musical dynamicism – the chord voicings he uses are unique (many pianists tend to structure chords differently when adapting skills to guitar), but never cliched, and his impeccable sensibilities for timing and melody never cease to astound me. I hope to play many more shows with him – I have met several other really cool musicians through him as well when we play open mic nights at the station.

This is my favorite original song of his, which I crudely attempted to capture on my phone (the vids on my phone seem to consistently get cut off). As he’ll often share onstage, he did not intend this song to be funny at all – rather, he was taking a rather somber look at the white patriarchal culture of contemporary American society. I must admit, I fell into this trap when I first heard the song. However, every time I think about the song (usually not even the same day I hear it live), I find that I do become upset.

I don’t feel good about living in a society that systematically marginalizes pretty much anyone who doesn’t identify as a white man. As a white man, the legitimacy of my own accomplishments comes into scrutiny, perhaps to a point of insecurity, when the perception arises that I inherited my life success. I think the insecurity comes from that fact that, as a white man, I really have inherited many, if not most, of all the life-defining experiences I’ve endured. The fruits of these benefits comes largely from the fact that I was born into a position of agency. I never have to face any kind of prejudice or discrimination that severely impedes my abilities to achieve whatever goals I strive for. For people in my position, I can imagine the insecurities from using terms “white privilege.” I think Gabe’s song does an excellent job of humanizing this insecure perspective while shedding light on issues of social marginalization my focusing on the daily life powers and rights of angry white men.

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