Wednesday, May 25, 2016

You Are Like The Water, In Your Loving I Could Drown

by Drew Martin
I have done my share of trying to pause pedestrians in order to take their pictures for my own art projects. So when I was asked to pose the other day while heading back to my office from lunch, I did not think twice about it.

The young lady who waved me down was assisting the photographer Marian Sell, and the musician Adam Bonomo for Adam's new music video. Neither I nor the other subjects understood that we were actually being filmed for two-second black and white clips that are shown in sequence for the entirety of the four and a half minute video. And I am not sure if any of us knew Adam. I didn't. But his talented band, BONOMO, and their smooth song Water, have made a big splash. 

For starters the video is gorgeously filmed and edited with a nice mix of people from different walks of life, walking the streets of Manhattan. Pictured here is one of my favorite shots Marian took of a young lady (top) and me (bottom). The fact is, they are are all great images. In the super-detailed, warts-all close-ups there is nowhere to hide but they are balanced with a certain kind of thoughtfulness and patience that say, we love you just the way you are. The result is an overwhelming sense of humanity.

And the song! It flows like a long, meandering river and it has the romantic undercurrent of a blissful Rumi poem. The line - you are like the water, I'm green when you're around - deepens that association (green is the color of love in Islam) and this is the first time the relationship hits home for me: your special someone's presence makes you feel alive in this world and lush.

That being said, Water is perhaps one of the most universal songs I have ever heard, and the video itself is a celebration of diversity and inclusion. Marian, the assistant, and Adam shot in four locations in Manhattan in one day and all the portraits, except for cameos of themselves, were of random passersby, like me. They filmed about 180 people and used around 120 portrait clips, which were first algorithmically placed in the movie timeline, and later moved around to suit the song.

After I received an email from Adam with my portrait here and a link to the video, we arranged to sit down this morning over tea so I could learn a bit more about him and his music. Aside from his obvious music abilities, Adam is also one of the nicest guys you can meet. He hails from Jupiter, Florida where we grew up in a musically inclined family; his mom was a concert pianist. And even though Adam was always toying around with music and creating songs, he was a late bloomer: he started playing piano at 18 and started singing only a year ago. He is now 26.

This makes sense when you hear his music. Never forced, it feels infused from many different sources, and he has a deep respect for performers such as Ray Charles. Adam offered his mantra: Hold on to your [musical] grandparents.

When I asked him about his process, Adam explained that he does not approach it from just writing first, or from laying out a tune to marry words to. It is more of an integrated process, based on what he says is an inseparable relationship of words, rhythm, and melody. When I asked specifically about the songwriting for Water, he politely declined to go there and explained that he did not want to dissect the meaning of all the lyrics. He joked that it would be disappointing if it turned out to be about a glass of water he had with breakfast. When I asked how he and Marian met before they began to collaborate on this video project, he said it was while kite boarding out on the open water near Coney Island. I continued the joke, "So it's really about kite boarding then?" Adam laughed and concluded, "It's definitely NOT about kite boarding!"

That's a picture of Adam in the title slate of the Water video here. Enjoy!

by Adam Bonomo

You are like the water
Those blues don’t slow you down

You are like the water
In your loving I could drown

Carry this old vessel out to sea
Capsize me if you will and I'll be yours
to keep

You are like the water
in you I see me

You are like the water
When I breath you carry me

I am only swimming in your sea
Willing I will wade in waters oh
so deep

You are like the water
everything is clear

You are like the water
If I could draw you near

Let the river carry you my way
tidal waves may come but they wont sweep
me away

No they wont Keep me away

You are like the water
I’m green when you’re around

You are like the water
Like heaven on the ground