Wednesday, March 07, 2007

The Next Big Thing Who Vanished, But Was There All Along

Singer-songwriter Ben Kweller was anointed the next big thing by no less authority than The New Yorker at the tender age of 14. The long profile talked at length about the prodigy's prodigious talents, and how he was on the verge of superstardom, then we've heard nothing from him since.

Call him a victim of unreasonable expectations. But a funny thing happened on the way to no-hit obscurity. Kweller continued to work on his craft, writing songs soft and hard, playing against genres, finding his voice. He's still only 22 years old, but those eight years are a lifetime in the music industry. '" Am Wasted, But I'm Ready" could his theme song - a line like "running as fast I can" says it all, doesn't it?

We may not ever hear from him again, but I am now sure that the ephemeral rewards of the pop music marketplace matter little to this young maestro. He will be playing somewhere, even if it's only to friends and family. Good music will find an appreciative audience, and the size of that audience matters much less than the pleasures they receive. As Kant said, "Number not voices, but weigh them." Good advice for young Kweller, good advice for us all.

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