On the Merits of Being Wrong

by Honest Babe on September 9, 2015


“What is so wrong with being wrong?” Kerry asked.

He was rolling a cigarette and had a fresh haircut that made it hard not to laugh at him. One side of his head was buzzed and I distinctly remember wanting to call him Macklemore. I didn’t however, for the conversation had finally found some meat, and besides, we had both long since agreed that Macklemore should be less of an insult these days and more one of those characters in Game of Thrones who gets flayed alive.

“Being wrong is essential. Being wrong is learning.” He went on, a two-hearted ale sweating in his palm. “Without it, a teacher can’t teach, a fool can’t change, and progress remains just that, a word…meaningless and empty.”

“Hm. But you’re still…wrong.” I said, sipping inspiration. “Isn’t it better to be right in the first place?”

It was clear, I needed more alcohol. My mind wasn’t so keen and quick and  open to abstraction as his. It was something I would always be jealous of; the floating minds of artists and writers whose thinking always seemed to lack a certain geometry. It wasn’t outside the lines so much as there weren’t any lines to begin with: In their world, you draw the lines yourself.

“If you’re afraid to be wrong, you will never create anything original.” He said.

Smoke plumed about the room and the late night was tipping its hat to early morning. I raised an eyebrow at him, looking for more clarity.

“Take you for example. You used to apologize for every single opinion you laid out. You thought you were apologizing and excusing yourself so as not too offend anyone who might disagree with you, but that immediate ‘sorry’ wasn’t actually an apology, it was just you being afraid of being wrong.”

Another beer top was cracked, and I sought after its insides with haste.

“But now look at’chu! You shovel out bullshit with the best of ‘em.” I smiled. He was right. “And your nearing a better place with every fresh-scented pile.” I blushed. He was right, again. “The only thing wrong with being wrong is lacking the bravery to admit it so, and the dexterity to learn and grow and adapt to embrace what is right.”

‘Artists.’ I thought. ‘You can’t kill ‘em, and you certainly can’t let ‘em know when they’re right.’

I told him he had had one too many and that he should probably stick to brushwork. He liked that. He liked that a lot and the night clamored on as it always does, destined for hazy truth; full of jokes and irreverence and the sort of easy conversation that makes the pursuit of an honest life not seem so damned arduous…nor absurd.

To me, it was glorious.
To him, it was just another night.
Of course, I could be wrong about that too.

8169184767_511679cbb5_bThis is Bud Shank and his take on The Beatles’ Magical Mystery Tour. Though there a few other pop covers thrown in the mix, many-a-purist would argue that such a perfect album should never be messed with; that some things are too pristine and well-balanced and any attempt at change would tip the weight in the wrong direction. I would like to argue otherwise. I believe The Beatles’ iconic sound warrants exploration, particularly in the realms of jazz – where, if done right, can be the most rewarding of musical experiences. And well, yeah, with a name like Bud Shank, you’ve got to figure the man didn’t mind throwing his name in the ever-dreaded pile of wrong, just to pull out something so right:

Bud Shank – Flying
Bud Shank – The Fool on the Hill
Bud Shank – I Say A Little Prayer For You
Bud Shank – Hello Goodbye
Bud Shank – Paper Cup
Bud Shank – Windy
Bud Shank – Never My Love
Bud Shank – I Wanna Be Free
Bud Shank – Your Mother Should Know
Bud Shank – I am the Walrus

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