Better Than The Original

I have loved MOSS since I first heard their 2008 album. And I was lucky to hear a rare live performance Thursday night.

Before I reflect in detail about that wonderful performance, I want to share this song. I hadn’t really listened to Joni Mitchell’s The Hissing of Summer Lawns, so I knew MOSS’s version much better.

And in hearing the original, I was able to reflect on what, really, the arranger’s art is. Arranging, at its finest, is transformative. It uncovers the truth of a piece of art and presents it in an idealized way.

We find it too easy to disparage arrangers as contributing relatively little, compared to composers. That’s not how I see it: at its best, arranging can create art that is better than the original.

Here’s the second half of their transformation of Joni’s piece. To her the other half, you’ll have to pony up for their marvelous whole album.