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Eric O’Connell began studying and playing classical guitar at the age of eight. He studied with teachers in the Twin Cities and San Francisco, and performed in various venues. In his early twenties (1982 or so), Eric’s music took a new turn. He bought a Gurian, steel-string guitar and began experimenting with flat picking, bluegrass, and folk. He performed with his friend, Paul Cofell, in central Minnesota. Soon after, he was inspired to try writing in earnest. He now considers his early work “a bit rough.”
In a May 2009 Interview O’Connell said the following in response to the stated questions: What kind of music do you hate?
O'CONNELL: "I hate music with no point. Music should be completely practical like a chair. It should have a use, a point. I don’t like the commercial music machine (but everyone hates that). I hate almost everything and almost everyone. It’s true. I’d rather hear a single moving note than a whole song that doesn’t hit the mark. The whole point of music is to be moved. If you aren’t moved, the medium has failed."
So, what kind of music do you like?
O'CONNELL: The genre doesn’t matter, it’s when you’re moved – it could be Eastern, Jamaican, Hawaiian, Ecuadorian, and so on. It’s when a medium makes it to the river. They’re in the flow, in the human flow. A bird doesn’t sing to be heard, they sing because they love to sing.
Give me an example of something you love.[/i
O'CONNELL: "Lissie’s “Mississippi” – I love that song. It moves you in an indefinable way. It’s non-verbal, you can’t describe it. That’s what’s so frustrating. Ultimately no one knows. The problem comes when you try to describe it."
What don’t you like?
O'CONNELL: "This is what I hate most about music: one type is inspired and one is contrived. Touchy feely, contrived music. It doesn’t come from the river. Music that is not written from inspiration but from ego."
O'CONNELL: "What I mean when I say that I hate everyone and everything is that everything bores me. From that template of objectivity – then I’m able to see and define what is real and what is contrived. And then, when I’m moved by something it is wonderful surprise. It shatters the template."
Who is doing that right now? "People have to decide that for themselves. Who is being honest? There was an Ecuadorian flute band that inspired me to record my first album, just because they were so one hundred percent devoid of any pretense. … was very humbling. It was like listening to a songbird. No pretense. It made me want to record."
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