America The Beautiful; featuring Jaco Pastorius.

Every time I watch this video it moves me beyond any other music video. Three years before his untimely death Jaco was in apparent rough shape. His pants are dirty and he does not look healthy at all, but his playing transcends his life style and quality of living. What Jaco plays touches me and I am amazed that, at the end of the tune, he smashes his bass into pieces by throwing it up into the air and letting it crash into the stage (it was rebuilt). I don’t know what he is saying by that gesture but you wouldn’t catch me destroying the bass that has been with me through my amazing musical journey, I appreciate and admire the fact that he did it though. I didn’t know Jaco but he is one of my biggest bass influences and I have spent a lot of time listening to him and playing some of his stuff. To see him in a state of affairs like this makes my heart heavy, but then to hear the beauty that comes from his spirit and hands amazes me and knocks me out.

To me, this video has essences of what America is. In America, even though we are free, life isn’t always easy, and sometimes you are faced with challenges that you might not overcome. There is an inherent beauty in humans that runs deeper than what we own, what we play, and what we have done. As American’s we have been fortunate enough to express that beauty through something as crazy as an electric bass(!), and with these talents expressed through our medium of choice, we are capable of affecting people to the core with that same beauty that is inside of us. Sadly and thankfully in some cases, like Jaco’s and unfortunately many others, no matter how dark the room, the light shines brighter when the switch is turned on. Jaco’s switch is turned on during this performance.

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