300 Words With is a new, semi-regular feature on my blog, in which I interview people I admire, especially those who exemplify the spirit of living in more than one world. Their responses are (in the range of) 300 words. Today’s interviewee is the artist/writer/musician/NPR radio commentator David Greenberger, who also has done innovative work with the elderly. I knew David back in my music writing/selling days in the late seventies and early eighties, and then lost touch with him until becoming reconnected earlier this year on Facebook.
1. Can you briefly describe your life’s professional journey so far, including Duplex Planet and your art?
Duplex Planet is my art, or one aspect of it. I won’t take up the limited word space here to describe it, but will say that I started out as a painter – art school, showings, the whole thing – and after I created the earliest issues of the periodical in 1979, I purposefully set aside painting a year or so later so that I could truly allow this other medium to become my voice. That said, for the past half decade, I’ve returned to visual art as well (though there are also visual components in The Duplex Planet) and it picks up around where I left off thirty years ago. For the past 15 years I’ve been most interested in the creation of monologues with music, further abstracting the underlying source material to make for a more universal, less documentary-specific focus.
2. Has music been a running thread through your personal and professional life, and if so, in what ways?
Music has been a constant since I was ten or eleven years old. I’ve always been nourished by hearing something new, as well as finding new in the familiar. I played bass guitar in bands in my hometown of Erie, PA, through high school and into college. I returned to performing when I lived in Boston and formed a band called Men & Volts. We did five albums and numerous other releases over the course of the eighties. Putting together an issue of The Duplex Planet has always been like assembling an album: the rhythmic flow, the juxtapositions, the slow reveal. My recordings and performances now – monologues with music – I liken to a band with a guy (me) talking.
3. What non-work activities do you find particularly meaningful in your life?
As an artist, I find very little divide between my daily endeavors and the notion of work. They are the same; they are who I am and what I do. That said, stepping away from the various processes is necessary for the growth and integrity of the art. So there are friends, the aesthetic pleasures of food, film, literature and every other medium, to baffle, amuse, delight and enrich.