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My Kind of Commencement Speech

John Adams

John Adams is one funny Mofo. Did y'all see the commencement address he delivered at Juilliard last month?

"The best thing about the change in new music since I was a student is that now the world is full of very exciting young women composers, many of who have genuinely transformed the musical landscape with their talent, wit and imagination. You can spot one of these young women composers in the crowd because she is likely to be wearing a thrift store retro chiffon dress, fishnet stockings and her great aunt’s pendant earrings. She’ll be the one with the killer web page and who has an upcoming gig at Le Poisson Rouge. And if you look carefully you’ll notice that on her left shoulder she’s got a tattoo that says “Morton Feldman rocks.”

But, read on further, and he's also got this to say:

"Thank you to all of you students who, against all odds and against all the pressures to do otherwise, have chosen to have a life in the arts. All the paradigms of success that we routinely encounter in our everyday lives—on television, in movies, in the online world, in the constant din of advertising, even from our friends and families—all these “models” for success and happiness American-style are about what is ultimately a disposable life, about a life centered around material gain and about finding the best possible comfort zone for yourself...Be bold, be humble, don’t mind being difficult, and don’t ever feel that what you’re doing in this attention-deficit disorder country of ours is marginal or unimportant. You are in fact the heart and the soul of its very being."

Damned straight. And, speaking of commencements, a belated congrats to David, Lisa, and all the other newly minted doctors out there. Hope y'all are able to catch a little breather this summer before the real work begins.

Read the rest of Adams' address here.

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