Fil, Wings of Pegasus – YouTube Commentary

Rev. Steve Schlissel - September 20, 2018

I stumbled upon this YouTube “channel” earlier today and watched a couple of “episodes”—delightedly. The host, a guitarist named Fil from a group called Wings of Pegasus (I hope they do their winging at night), is a pleasant young Brit who seems wonderfully unpretentious and sincerely interested in edifying and helping viewers. Speaking of whom, my guess is that he aims at young musicians who are keen on improving their skills, but I think he can easily appeal to a much broader audience. After all, I’m neither. Yes, he looks like he’s growing out of 70s soil, but that’s fine with me. It’s his journeyman’s knowledge, workingman’s accent and his enthusiasm, tempered by a good measure of humility, that I find so winsome. I hope these last.

Yet I must confess that what drew me to watch a second episode so quickly was the ambience radiated by his show and the nostalgia it kicked into high gear. It captures as well as anything I’ve come across a particular cultural practice to which I had devoted no little portion of my “yewt.” What practice was that? Going over to friends’ homes and listening to the latest release by our favorite rockers–together. Whoever got the vinyl first was under a sort of sacred obligation to gather the guys (and gals) to give serious listens to the latest steps up (or down) by our fave performers. I had Hendrix’s “Are You Experienced” long before most of my crowd and not only wanted to share him, I needed to as his destruction of what I had thought were the limits of the instrument left me in need of group therapy and the insights of friends. Ditto for Tomita doing Stravinsky. When Clapton added wah-wah, groups of us heard and discussed the implications.
What has replaced this communal epistemological growth. Somebody asks another: “Did you hear this? It’s cool.” And it is consigned to being heard in serial isolation. By individuals only. It’s a development I despise. How much poorer we are for the demise of that communal practice which of course became inevitable once the Walkman delivered that first yet decisive wound. When group listening finally died, it was denied a dignified funeral. Instead it was unceremoniously “downloaded” into the cold ground by anonymous ones and zeroes.

All this started coming back to me when I came across Fil, who invited me to watch WITH HIM a video of Glenn Campbell performing live in front of a slew of ridiculously great pickers. He paused the action several times to highlight the sorts of things he was anxious for us to appreciate—the same spirit which animated the conversations of yore which I am here lamenting. But when I saw and heard him commenting on a Stevie Ray Vaughan recording, it began to feel like we were in a living room together, having our respective appreciation for this or that aspect grow, then meld into something greater than it could have been if left to remain in isolation, shielded from other ears and hearts by headphones.

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