George Wirth: If you have seen him perform or listened to his CD, "The Lights of Brigantine," you probably considered closing your eyes just now and visualizing; seeing all the images George puts out on his musical canvass with each verse he plays.
The first time I saw George Wirth perform live, he inspired me to write poetry about his gift as a "Storyteller." Wirth sings: "Some let it all out. I keep it all down on the inside, way in the dark, where it belongs." When away from his guitar and harmonica, Wirth comes across as a quiet, unassuming observer rather than a focal point. I think he is watching, learning, taking notes, and beginning to piece together new tales to tell.
George Wirth is heavily influenced by the likes of Bob Dylan and the folk version of Bruce Springsteen, among others, , with a touch of a quieter Joe Cocker in his voice. His lyrics, though, are less abstract then Dylan's can be and more John Steinbeck in form. Wirth writes about hardships and life's challenges, but he does so with a vast array of pictures that represent sung photo albums of a life. Sometimes life is trying, but it goes on. Wirth's songs of then and now are moments captured in intricate detail. His "half smoked cigarettes," old faded pictures of youth buried away in a shoe box, sighs of resignation, roads "that turn from asphalt to sand," and the mill with "its never ending spin" notice the flashed by instances of life, and somehow they soften even the roughest of edges.
Wirth can show us hope, promise and love, too. In "Eisenhower Summer, 1952," he takes us back to a time of optimism that that era offered. The love of his life, Brenda, is shared with us in unpretentious songs such as "Old Dancing Fool" and the contented in anything if it is with you "Better Man." He also gives us something to wish for in his newer song, "Power Lines," in its metaphoric connectivity of the search for what, or who, makes us happy.
In his masterpiece, "Weight of Sin," Wirth sings of love, but also of frailty and why we fall short of the ideal in life. You will walk on water, he says, like a god, when you are sinless and able to leave behind the trials and scars of each day. We carry our burdens, they weigh us down, but there is something bigger than us to ease the weight. It is elusive. Is it God ... or love? Or both joined in some form?
George Wirth is a sanctuary from the white noise of the day, even as he portrays many days to us. The stage is a screen, and upon it are shown many reels of film George wishes us to take in. Sit down, close your eyes, listen ... words and music never revealed more.