Sam Bayer is one of my favorite singer-songwriters. He is one of those rare immediately-caring people that you recognize as soon as he sings a song or talks with you outside the music hall. Sam Bayer writes in his latest newsletter about the roles people play:
Goffman was a brilliant sociologist, and one of his most influential books is The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life, which can be summed up, pretty succinctly, by mutilating Shakespeare: not only is all the world a stage, but every situation is a performance, and the roles we assume vary according to which play we happen to be in at the time. I think of Goffman a lot; we’re different people to our friends than we are to our coworkers, or our parents, or our spouses, or our children.
Sam is in particular speaking about how we have different roles as a musician and as a host. The audience learns just a few things about you while you’re on stage. Sam writes:
Some people believe that there’s really no room for more than three basic facts about a solo performer: e.g., you’re tall, you’re a cross-dresser, and you used to be a Marine. The other details are just noise; they detract from the focus of the performance. A while back, I settled on three words: Literate. Resonant. Exuberant. They’re on the top of each page of my Web site. They’re the three things I want people to remember about me, and my performance, when they leave.