I love music. It’s been part of my daily life and identity for as long as I can remember. I have noticed, however, that my ideas about music and even the ways I engage music have changed over time. Now, this is certainly not surprising. I’m older. Let’s hope I’m a little wiser. My life has changed in some wonderful ways. It makes sense that my ideas about music would change. I do often wonder, however, if there’s a little more too it. I read parts of Oliver Sacks’ Musicophilia years ago. Lately, I’ve had a strong desire to dig in again. Sometimes a book comes to me long before I’m truly ready to receive it and I definitely think Musicophilia was one of those books. Now, I don’t expect to uncover the secrets to my current level of musical engagement necessarily, but I’m more and more curious about the ways the brain and music interact. Before I had a
I read The Hate U Give in 2017 when it was released. Overall, it was a pleasant read, but I had questions about the author’s approach to her chosen topic—officer involved shootings of unarmed black men. I commented in an earlier post on the difficulty of critiquing fiction that calls itself political. I also noted the glaring absence of Khalil’s story. Unfortunately, the big screen has a way of illuminating a story’s flaws and The Hate U Give was no different. The Hate U Give is a good movie. It is visually appealing. It isn’t boring in the least. Like the book, the story might be a touch too long, but that’s my only general critique. Overall, just as I did the book, I have no problem recommending the movie. The movie, however, does raise the same questions the book did. In fact, the treatment of the black male characters overall has a way of obscuring the point of the
Last week I had some time and stopped by one of my favorite places, McKay’s. It’s really a treat when I have time during the week to go peruse the seemingly endless shelves of books. The store is quieter than it is on the weekend and it’s much easier to browse without having to squeeze by people. During the week, looking through the many books becomes a zen-like experience and this day was no different. Since I had time this particular day, I went down almost every aisle. I looked through the biographies, true crime, mystery, etc. As I was browsing, I turned onto an aisle that I’ve perused before. This aisle usually has nonfiction “cultural studies” titles categorized by cultural group. For example, there’s an African American Studies section and a Native American Studies section. This time, it was LGBT Studies that caught my eye. Right next to the bays of nonfiction titles about the LGBT experience are two
A wonderfully talented friend of mine told me about Moses Sumney over tea a few days ago. I’m not sure what rock I’ve been under, but I’ve clearly been hibernating because I had no clue this creative human existed. So, I decided to go down a Moses Sumney hole starting with his debut album Aromanticism. To begin, I learned a new word—aromantic. An aromantic is someone who experiences little to no romantic attraction. In a New York Times article, Moses Sumney explains that he has never experienced romantic love and wanted to challenge a culture that values romantic love so highly: I was just bored with the love song, the idea of the love song as the archetype, and also the culture that suggests romantic love is the end-all and be-all of human existence. I wanted to question and challenge that on a personal level and on the social level — the personal is the social. I think I just felt
I’m taking my time with a book and, for the first time, I’m enjoying it. I usually abandon books that take me too long to get through, but Michael Chabon peppers his story with sentences I have to stop and think about. It’s exhilarating.
She is getting old, and he is getting old, right on schedule, and yet as time ruins them, they are not, strangely enough, married to each other.
The Russian’s shoulders hunch, and he ducks his head, and his rib cage swells and narrows. It looks like laughter, but no sound comes out.
For an instant he handles the bones, horn, and leather of the old man’s hand.
I don’t usually like listening to posthumously released albums. If the artist didn’t want me to hear it, I don’t think I should hear it. It may be weird, but listening to “gems” from the vault have always felt like crossing some kind of line. What I do love, however, is hearing songs stripped down to the basics. Prince Piano & a Microphone 1983 sounds like Prince playing around. That’s what I love about it. It’s not perfect. It’s not clean. It’s an artist at work, an artist at play. Is it something I’ll listen to every day? Probably not. But I do wonder what benefits a songwriter could find in just listening to what working sounds like and reminding themselves what it feels like to just play. Here are a few of the songs that were previously released and are stripped down to just piano and vocals on this album: “17 days” I wanna call you every day Beg
When I start following an artist, it’s usually because I think they write great lyrics. India.Arie is the epitome of that. She has this way of being inspirational without it being corny: I close my eyes and I think of all the things that I want to see ‘Cause I know, now that I’ve opened up my heart I know that Anything I want can be, so let it be, so let it be Strength, courage, and wisdom And it’s been inside of me all along Strength, courage, and wisdom Inside of me ~From “Strength, Courage and Wisdom” The difference in living and feeling alive Is using your fear as fuel to fly ~From “Life is Good” Even as she inspires, she addresses hard times and those hard places that we can all relate to: Please understand that it’s not that I don’t care But right know these walls are closing in on me I love you more than
Paying attention often requires some sort of empathy for the subject, or at the very least, for the speaker. But empathy, these days, is hard to come by. Maybe this is because everyone is having such a hard time being understood themselves. Or because empathy requires us to dig way down into the murk, deeper than our own feelings go, to a place where the boundaries between our experience and everyone else’s no longer exist.
~ Wendy S. Walters “Lonely in America” from The Fire This Time
Once a person truly dons this empathy, it demands that they keep their mouths closed and disregard everything they think they know. It requires them to listen with an awareness that opens their ears to something they’ve never heard before, something that sounds so unbelievable that, in any other context, they might think it fiction. When they choose to pay attention they may find that boundaries dissipate, but they may also find that, in some ways, the life they live is a fantasy and some wake up every day in hell.
These songs remind me of dorm days, MySpace and friends who encircled music and formed bonds with the melodies. They bring back memories of confusion, heartbreak, bright hope and epiphany. They recall a yearning for love, an attempt to learn love.
Your eyes are the windows to heaven,
Your smile could heal a million souls.
Your love completes my existence.
You’re the other half that makes me whole.
You’re the only other half that makes me whole.
~ Amel Larrieux, “Make Me Whole”
Now, they communicate what I can’t, remind me of what I’ve learned and what I now cherish.
We have both been broken
Bent into painful shapes
We almost let those old fears
Carry over and get in our way
But every struggle just makes
Our love get stronger than it was yesterday
~ Amel Larrieux, “No One Else”