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Music for Creative Inspiration in Errol Garner

January 25th, 2020

As I sit down in my studio either at my easel to paint or at my computer to design, the first thing I do is cue up music. Music has always been an important aspect of my life. In addition to painting and design, I also play the piano. I draw my inspiration from none other than the great Errol Garner himself, a Grammy award winning composer and pianist who could not read a single note of music. He simply played what he felt on any particular day. Each time he would play a song, is was always slightly different from the previous time -- a different chord here, a slightly more flamboyant introduction there -- whatever he was feeling in his soul and heart that day.

In Errol I often see myself as I paint. Nature is important to me so I often paint flowers, often tropical blossoms or orchids, however, each one is different from the other. Perhaps it is sunrise and the first rays of light are drifting through the rain forest and hit the petals just so. Another time it may be sunset and the golden hues of the fading sun create a magical glow changing a simple creamy white to something with a little more color. Like Errol, I am mostly self taught and just create what I feel on any particular day. Perhaps it is flowers one day, but then a lonely, barren tree in the dead of winter on a rare occasion.

I never tire of Errol's music, even though he passed away at the relatively young age of 54 in 1977. His career began at age 11, roughly the age I began to paint. He started playing at the age of three, attempting to mimic the songs his older brother played. He was soon playing on Allegheny riverboats by the age of 11, going on to appear on Johnny Carson many times. Later he would compose and perform one of the most memorable movie themes of all time, "Misty."

My personal favorites are "April in Paris" which veers over to "The Last Time I Saw Paris" briefly. Then Errol masterfully returns to the closing refrains of the original tune in a seamless way that appears effortless. If you haven't heard his version of "Over the Rainbow" you are missing one of the most remarkable performances of this song ever. Only a true musical genius and someone gifted with a more than a little magic in their soul can do this. You can't fake it no matter how many piano lessons you have taken. If you don't feel it, the magic doesn't happen. Not at that level. Yes, I play piano, but not that that. Not many can.

Thanks for the inspiration, Errol. You help me get my grove back on the days I need it most.

J Marielle