That name, SUN BEAR, just sounds like an ideogram to me. Super resonant. By the way, this all might be related to Tomaž Šalamun's famous line, "Every true poet is a monster." Or why Richard Hugo writes that the imagination is a cynic. T
It's a kind of de-familiarization in relation to the song: if she were to sing absolutely straight, right on the beat, because of the richness and intensity of her instrument - her voice - I think it could actually feel a little inhuman, too good somehow, separate from our concerns.
It's just interesting to me that the physical enactment of that mind moving has gradually changed for you in the last few years. It made me wonder if the change was deliberate in any sense, or procedural, like when A.R. Ammons stuck an adding machine roll into his typewriter to squeeze his verses into shorter lines.
When I saw the sun bears at the Oakland Zoo, I immediately was drawn to them. Not to be ornery, but regarding what you said about the speaker identifying with the bear: I'm not sure it's exactly right to say that the speaker feels that the bear must share his sadness, or whatever else he is feeling. That would be classic pathetic fallacy, which is certainly generative for poetry, but here the speaker appears actually to be rejecting that idea.
I just know from experience that reading a funny poem aloud, especially at the beginning of a public reading, can have a certain effect. Somehow narrowing the spectrum of possible emotional reactions. So while I like it when people laugh at my poems, and I definitely enjoy being funny in them, I don't really think that's the most important thing that's going on, at least not to me.
Of course I was drawn to the sun bears, they're fascinating. But so are tigers and lots of other animals at the zoo. Probably a big part of the reason I felt so connected to them was because of their name: SUN BEAR.
Not that I play guitar anywhere near as well as she sings, but I think I have always had a tendency to play solos the same way, in emotional relation to the structure of the song. I choose simple lines, and only play what seems emotionally relevant, and often express that emotion in time, that is in play or resistance to the set time of the song.
I'm more than a little suspicious of humor in poems, because I think it can at times be a way of getting a reaction out of a reader, or an audience, that is something closer to relief: i.e., thank god this isn't poetry, but stand-up comedy. Some poets are really funny, but more often poets are fourth rate stand up comics at best. But they benefit from the sheer relief of the audience.