Monday, October 18, 2010

"Behind this heart, there's 1,000 hearts that keep me on track"

The most intimate concerts often take place in low-lit, hole-in-the-wall bars where you can literally reach out and touch the artist from the furthest point in the bar. These are the types of concerts where you get nervous to take a photo, because you believe that the flash you set off will blind the artist as well as the entire crowd that has squished together. It’s the kind of show where you can stab a line here and there back and forth with the artist—making it feel as though you have created a friendship—a relationship—an affair, for the brief forty-five minute set.

But I’ve found something even better: The kind of show where you sit down with the artist one-on-one, where he or she plays every song that he or she has ever written, and offers you a story behind each one. This is the type of show where you don’t even take photos because you feel such a personal connection between the artist and yourself. You realize quickly that a picture wouldn’t capture the moment as well as the exchange of words, and it’s the type of show where you truly feel like the only person in the room…because…well you are.

And that’s the experience that I had recently, when I got to sit down with friend, singer, and songwriter Paul Knakk, who breaks the standard “1 in 10 songs is a hit” rule and creates an abundance of music that would have overtaken the once highly rated TRL every day. Paul Knakk is a gem.

Never have I had the opportunity to truly sit down with someone and talk about their work—their creative niche—their passion, while watching them really engage in that talent that they have. It truly is a rare and exhilarating moment to see someone smile while they are doing what they love.

Paul and I attended the same high school, but I didn’t really know him until recently. A year younger than me, we never had the same classes, and we didn’t share groups of friends. I had known who he was because of pictures he had posted from when everyone was in middle school, pictures that many people got a really great laugh about when originally posted. About a year ago, Paul and I became Facebook friends, probably because one of us saw that the other had many mutual friends and we went to the same school. Soon after, I learned that Paul was pursuing music. I checked out his videos, his notes, and took the time to listen—and I really enjoyed it.

Unable to make it to one of Paul’s shows in the last year, I formed a friendship with him always discussing the music and what he had planned next. He went on to try out for American Idol this past year where he met many contacts and formed connections that will truly help his music career. The more he talked about his music—his recent show—and the fact that he was going to get a brand new amazing guitar—the more I knew that I had to hear him play live.

So the other day I finally took the opportunity to sit in on a private concert, where Paul played every song he has ever written. Two guitars, two locations, and three and a half hours later, I now knew Paul better than I had known many people that I have been acquainted with for many years. Paul’s music gives sound to his life experiences while also allowing you to connect and feel like the words have been written just for you, like Paul wanted to tell not only his story, but yours too. At most points, during my private show, I had wished that I had a pencil and paper because his lyrics drove thoughts and inspired ideas of my own. His music—his stories—they gave me chills.

Paul’s story is an amazing one that highlights most people’s experiences in adjusting to a world filled with love, hate, and jealousy. What else is amazing about Paul and his musical endeavors? He has self-taught himself, putting together his delicate words with outstanding notes. I would have guessed Paul had been playing for years…but was surprised to learn that he has only really been writing and playing for a year and a half. As Paul and I agreed, there’s nothing that other artists have—that he doesn’t.

Not everyone has the guts to go for their dreams and not everyone has the will to fight for their passions. But after leaving Paul’s house, I realized how important it is that we recognize our talents and the talents of others. Many nights we sit around and fight to find something to do. Should we go get drinks? What about a movie? How about one night where we just sit around with a close friend and experience what makes them happiest...where we just fully experience them. The lights don’t have to be dim, the location doesn’t have to be a hole-in-the-wall, the cameras don’t have to be in hand, and the conversation doesn’t have to be simple…even if it’s a simple night. This is the best kind of concert—this is the best type of night.

For more information on Paul Knakk, I suggest friending him Paulie or by joining his Facebook Group. Once becoming friends with Paul, you can check out his beautiful lyrics in his notes and watch videos of him playing. His YouTube page is currently undergoing maintenance, but you can bet that once it is back up, the volume on his site is going to soar. And at shows…well the girls will be chasing him down, of that I can guarantee. I’m lucky to know and be friends with such a talented musician.


  1. What an amazing experience! I love that you guys kind of "met" properly on Facebook. It's the very same way I met one of my best friends in life - through seeing we had lots of people in common, and deciding to get to know each other. :) There's something magical about watching someone perform what they're best at - not to a stadium of thousands but intimately, where every lyric and chord progression are put on the line... I'm glad that Paul followed his dream, and was able to make such an impact. I'm definitely going to check out his music!

  2. Beautiful. Your posts remind me of the beauty and bounty of adventure and experiencing life to the fullest. Keep up the heart felt and moving writing! Btw, I think I may go to S Korea to taach English for a year so we'll both be able to inspire adventure with our blogs!

  3. Honestly Libby, I know I've told you this already after reading this, but I figured I'd post it on here to make it official. This left me speechless. Each and every time I read it, I get the chills. Things like this inspire me to "keep on keepin' on" as much as my music inspires others. I feel like THAT much more of an artist when I read this and actually realize that my music has the effect that I want it to have on others. I couldn't thank you enough for writing this, this is DEFINITELY going into my scrapbook. Haha ;)

    -Paulie Knakk

  4. Libby, you and your entry about Paul Knakk was so painful to read. You suck for these 3 reasons:

    1. You talk how its too close and intimate to even take a picture...yet right above these words there is a picture of Paul that you clearly took when he was playing for you.

    2. You say Paul breaks the "1 in 10 songs is a hit" rule and that every song would have been on TRL. The only way he "broke this rule" is by producing ZERO hits because I, along with 99.999999999999999993373% of the United States, have never heard of him or his songs.

    3. Paul is clearly just trying to get into your pants.

    PS Paulie.. don't let her entry massaging your nuts inspire you TOO much, because you really aren't that great and most likely never will be. If you think this is harsh you can blame Libs for quoting herself to start off her most recent post!

  5. Great job Libby! Good luck to Paul, I look forward to hearing him play. And to Nathan with his post above, when you are done with your snit, can we have our guitar back, thanks man.