Pork chops in Milwaukee
I stumbled across this in some holiday reading (on my new iPod touch, using the Amazon/Kindle iPod/iPhone app, which is good and would be gooder if it had copy/paste functionality so I wouldn’t have to manually retype long passages like the one below). It’s from a Kazuo Ishiguro short story collection entitled Nocturnes. The first story in the collection, “Crooners,” is about a Tony Bennett-esque crooner in late life who makes friends in Italy with a young American guitarist gigging in several clubs off a Venice piazza. Early on in the story, the Tony Bennett-style character passes on a trick of the trade to the young musician:
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Let me tell you a little secret … A little secret about performance. One pro to another. It’s quite simple. You’ve got to know something, doesn’t matter what it is, you’ve got to know something about your audience. Something that for you, in your mind, distinguishes that audience from the one you sang to the night before. Let’s say you’re in Milwaukee. You’ve got to ask yourself, what’s different, what’s special about a Milwaukee audience? What makes it different from a Madison audience? Can’t think of anything, you just keep on trying till you do. Milwaukee, Milwaukee. They have good pork chops in Milwaukee. That’ll work, that’s what you use when you step out there. You don’t have to say a word about it to them, it’s what’s in your mind when you sing to them. These people in front of you, they’re the ones who eat good pork chops. They have high standards when it comes to pork chops. You understand what I’m saying? That way the audience becomes someone you know, someone you can perform to. There, that’s my secret. One pro to another.