Sunday Salon: The Thrill of Not Know What You’re Going to Get

Sometimes I pick up books I never heard of based solely on how much I like the cover.  I don’t even read the inside flap to see what the book will be about.

I just read it.

Read it with no idea of what will happen at all.

C.J. and I have been doing the same thing with concert going lately.  Not quite the same I guess.  You can usually tell by a venue what sort of music you’ll get at least in a very general way.

We’ve been going to the Jazz School in Berkeley lately.  Since it’s only ten or fifteen dollars a ticket, we don’t even pay much attention to what sort of performer will be there.  When we can go, we have dinner, visit Half Price Books, and then see the show.

Since we buy tickets through the local on-line half price outlet, sometimes months in advance, we often end up sitting in a theatre waiting for the lights to darken with no idea what’s going to happen because we tend to forget what the play’s about.

There’s an element of surprise to this that makes for a lot of fun.

I’m currently reading The Other Joseph by Skip Horrack because I liked the cover when I saw it on the New Books section of my local library.  I’m planning on finishing it today.  I’ve no idea what will happen.  I had no idea what would happen when I started page one either.  It’s not going to be on my top ten list this year, but I am enjoying it.

Last night we went to see Cindy Scott at the Jazz School  with no idea what to expect.

Here’s a sample of what we saw.


This is not the kind of music we usually listen to.  In fact, if I had seen this video ahead of time I might have decided to skip this show.   It’s also not really jazz, but no  one was bothered by that last night.  Ms. Scott was terrific as was Brian Seeger on the guitar.  She was much more downbeat than I would have expected at a jazz club where the music leans towards the up-tempo.  Their cover of I Want to Get You on a Slow Boat to China stripping away the typical big band treatment the song usually gets to just vocals and a guitar made it a sweet, sexy tune that prompted some hand-holding, I confess.

She sang a version of Shenandoah that brought tears to just about everyone’s eyes then invited one of the musicians in the audience up on stage to join in on a rocking Bye, Bye, Blackbird, one of my favorites.

A standing ovation prompted two encores.

So this got me thinking.  Why is it we so often hesitate to try something unexpected?  These days people don’t go the gas station without checking the reviews on Yelp first.  True the concert we saw before this one wasn’t all that good, but it was just ten bucks, and I often stop reading a book after three or four lack-luster pages, but aren’t the best parts of things the ones that surprised you?

The moments in a performance I remember most fondly are the ones when the performers did something I wasn’t expecting.  When the Grateful Dead left their play-list to riff on The Beatles Hey Jude; when Counting Crows basically ran out of songs and did a spontaneous unplugged cover of The Psychedelic Furs The Ghost in You; when Bob Dylan plugged in his guitar for the first time.  Okay, I wasn’t there for that one, but you see my point.   I was there when Betty Carter and Carmen McCrea changed their minds halfway through the song, decided they certainly were not blue and turned Am I Blue into a triumphant number about getting over that man.

Authors don’t really do that very often.  At least I can’t think of an example off-hand.  So do it for them.  You’ve already paid your fair share at the local library.  Your tax dollars at work–not using it at least now and then is wasting your own money.  So go in sometime and pick up a random book off of the shelf.

You never know…

6 thoughts on “Sunday Salon: The Thrill of Not Know What You’re Going to Get

  1. Okay, you got my little brain a-ticking today. Right, right, right. I will intentionally be serendipitous next week. Thank you!

  2. One of the reasons I love ushering and/or being a season ticket-holder at local theatres is that I get to see stuff I never would choose to see. I rarely take the time to look up reviews or synopses since I’m going anyway. Two of the theatres I go to do a lot of world premieres, so there’s hardly any information to be had if I wanted it. Once in a while, I get stuck watching a real dud, but the good generally outweighs the bad.

    I’ve tried the same kind of thing with book subscriptions, one through my local indy and another through Book Riot. Both were fun, and I got some good reads out of them, but the library has the advantage of being free. For me, the challenge is not getting distracted by all the books I know about.

    1. We had a similar experience when were with subscribers. There weren’t that many duds, though they did tend to be quite memorable. I currently “subscribe” to the Art of the Novella series through Melville House. At just 12.99 a month I get two to four novellas. It’s like Book of the Month Club used to be. You never know what you’ll get.

  3. This has got me thinking as well. I think I’m slightly more adventurous with books than anything else, which isn’t saying much. But I do browse the new book bins at the library nearly every week, and I’ve picked up authors and books outside my usual genres there. Reading blogs has definitely introduced me to more adventurous reading as well. But I can’t say I’m very adventurous with music or theatre, and definitely not with food!

    1. If the tickets are cheap enough, I’m will to take a risk on music and theatre. I’m the kind of person who always tries the “local dish” when I travel. Sometimes I love it, sometimes I don’t finish it all.

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