Saturday, September 6, 2008

The Art of Shutting Up

I am a chatterbox to the nth degree.  winding down, let alone being quiet for an extended period of time is hard for me.  During this summer a great deal of silence was foisted upon me due to my lack of employment and necessary reclusiveness that no money brings.  It was and is very good to be required to be quiet.  I was talking with a professor from my college days while in Washington and we discussed the oft overlooked quality of a "quiet energy."  Because there is great power in the moments we don't fill with sound.  Or at least moments when I stop to listen to the greater noise and wait for the right place to insert my voice.  And even better are the moments I am not waiting, or planning.  The best is when shutting up is its own reward and absorbing all the surrounding stimuli is no task.  Time gracing me with the gift of now.  

As always, I risk getting too uppity about the zen perspective.  The thing is, that we all struggle to find our respective truths and as I listen and search for myself I keep hearing the same sentiments.  Pausing, breathing, calming down and acknowledging the journey as well as being in the midst of it.  No way am I going to continue on about some universal truth and adorn myself in patchouli oil, but you get the idea.

In an effort to shut up and calm down (it is really fucking hard!!) I put together a mix CD (how weird is it that it is not a mix-tape anymore?) for evening listening.  For relaxing, watching the sun go down or your lover read a book... embracing a quiet moment and yes, being present.  Are we idiots or savants?  I don't know.  I do know what music I like and here is my list and my take on it all.  See, I can't be quiet even in a blog post... sheesh!  

I wish I could have link to each song, but many of them are familiar to many.  Let me know if you want a copy...

1.     Quiet Nights – Stan Getz and Astrud Gilberto

Aptly named and one of the softest, sweetest songs I know.  It seems hard to combine gentle and joyful in music and this one does it for me. 

2.     A Million Times – Ms. John Soda

Is it just me, or do artists that are not native English speakers do the most amazing things with the language?  Rhythmic romance for the ears.

3.     Temptation – Diana Krall

A voice I melt into, a song I have sung many times to myself (and others), and a scraggily, raspy writer behind the paper. 

4.     Please Call Me Baby – Tom Waits

The writer of the previous song and again he slings deceptively simple fair with the listener feeling that they are the main character.

5.     Slow Like Honey – Fiona Apple

A sexy, languid song.  If this doesn’t make you want to light candles and touch someone’s skin then you may be suffering from some kind of terrible illness.  Go see your doctor. 

6.     Holdin’ On – Citizen Cope

That desired moment realized after time has passed.  And guess what?  It is better than expected.  It has nothing to compare to.  Perhaps it hinges on trite, but we allow it because we all know the feeling.

7.     All is Full of Love – Bjork

Known for her swelling melodies and orchestral leanings this one hits all the marks.  I used to go on drives along the water and through the five-mile drive with this on repeat.  Delicateness tempered with a backbone of hope.

8.     Rebel Rebel – Seu Jorge

From the soundtrack for “The Life Aquatic” Seu takes David Bowie’s gem and injects it with the rolling of waves and salt drying on old wooden boards.  Lullabies for the international traveler.

9.     Bloodsuckers – David Garza

This was a discovery from visit to Portland.  Garza was a sidewalk performer, but anyone who stopped knew right away he was no rambling fellow pretending to play the artist game.  This was the real deal.  The song itself is a bit cynical and I adore him for it.  I think you will know why.

10.  I Wish I Was the Moon – Neko Case

Having just seen her at Bumbershoot and listening to her perform this song live I was practically transported to a different world.  One where sad songs rule and it is okay if I get a bit teary here and there.  The rest of the time I just relax into the stringed instruments.

11.  Nude – Radiohead

I am apparently about a year behind the curve on being obsessed with this song.  In truth I am neither bothered by not knowing what is current, nor have I repeatedly listened to it.  However it is awful pretty and fits well into a night themed mix CD.  I can practically see the wisps of clouds passing in front of the moon now…

12.  Can’t Help Lovin’ Dat Man – Julie London

This is a song I have been singing since I was a small child.  I picked it up from the musical “Show Boat” when it was playing on my local PBS station.  I memorized it as soon as I heard it and though I had no man to love, it imbedded itself into my psyche.  This one is for keeps.

13.  My One and Only Love – John Coltrane

A no-brainer.  This is a bubble bath, a glass of wine, a long gaze between lovers.  The things we know, and for good reason.  The singer is a bit schmaltzy, but halfway into the song John has already done all the work to get me all fluttery. 

14.  Thirteen – Big Star

Time to change the pace and tone.  Big Star was never what their name suggested, but this song has taken on an iconic status in many circles.  Teenage angst and hope.  Sweaty palms and determination to find love in its simplest and finest form. 

15.  Leaving For Paris – Rufus Wainwright

When I traveled to Paris to study art I was in the midst of a relationship I wanted out of.  Instead of severing the ties as I ought to have, I let it linger.  Months passed before I walked away.  Perhaps if these notes had been on my iPod I would have heard my fate in them and let go when I should have.  Or at least had a beautiful song to make me really know the truth rather than hide from it.

16.  Blue Valentine – Tom Waits

Can you tell I like Tom?  This man tells stories and I spiral into each one as though it were my own.  I do have a tendency to get a bit caught up in a perceived empathy.  Separate from my personal feelings, I adore the guitar solo and find myself blinking ever slower and slower, as a cat before a sleeping session.

17.  Alone in Kyoto – Air

Nothing overtly fancy.  It is a clean plate with a refined bite of sushi or a bed with all white linens. 

18.  A Blossom Fell – Diana Krall

So I repeat myself in my tastes to a certain extent.  But just listen to the longing, the hurt and more importantly the precise musicality of her voice and piano.  Follow that with the jazz guitar’s timing and tone, and the subtle brushes on the drums and you have one amazing song. 

19.  The Night – Morphine

I am sharing with you possibly my favorite band.  And this song is top of the list.  I listen to it and grasp at a definition I have no words for.  It just wraps me up in something warm and slightly deviant.  I am not sure I can trust it fully, but I want to.  


LJW said...

I want a copy of that cd, lady.

LJW said...

i totally need a copy of that cd, lady. Only three days into the school year and i've already faced a panic attack that had me crying only minutes before first period (this was day two, btw).

Lord knows, I need to learn to RELAX!!