Sunday, May 16, 2010

Thirty Days of Music 

There’s a meme doing the rounds; thirty days of music. Thirty simple prompts for songs you like/dislike/make you feel happy/sad etc – you get the picture. It’s curious that music is such a big part of my life yet I rarely write about it. Since these days I rarely write about anything at all (a situation worth exploring, perhaps, but not right now), I thought it might be worth using this as a means of getting back into the habit of communicating here. Heaven knows, I don’t communicate much anywhere else.

Day 1 – Your Favourite Song

Even though the very concept of a single favourite song, amongst so much great music of such variety, is one against which I instinctively rebel, nevertheless this was an easy choice. A song I loved instantly on first hearing it, and of which I never tire; a song I return to time and again when my soul needs something beautiful, something heartfelt, something deeply human.

These words, from the description of the album, from which this song is taken, give some background to the composition:

“The album closes with perhaps the most deeply felt of the self-composed titles. "Departure Bay" contains vivid and touching images of her hometown of Nanaimo on Vancouver Island but also a wrenching description of her family's first Christmas without her mother and a final verse that welcomes new love and hope for the future.

“Musically composed by Krall alone, these songs mark a lyrical collaboration with her new husband, Elvis Costello. Explaining how they worked, Krall said: "I wrote the music and then Elvis and I talked about what we wanted to say. I told him stories and wrote pages and pages of reminiscences, descriptions and images, and he put them into tighter lyrical form. For "Departure Bay," I wrote down a list of things that I love about home, things I realized were different, even exotic, now that I've been away".”

This song has personal associations too - I have Andrea to thank for introducing me to Diana Krall’s music, and her paintings of the corner of Canada which form the setting for this song help especially to bring the words alive.

Sometimes we just appreciate a nice tune, or a beautiful voice, but, like all art perhaps, music has most effect when it touches something personal within ourselves, when the art is the bridge by which an experience can cross from one to another. This doesn’t have to be some great epiphany, some moment of immense joy or sorrow; just an empathic experience when the music puts you into the shoes of the singer or the songwriter and your world is enriched because of it.

That, I guess, is why I call this a favourite. Yes, the tune is good; yes the harmonies are pleasing; yes, the band – jazz trio plus guitar – is as near-perfect as you could possibly hope for; ultimately though, even though the song takes its inspiration in the circumstance surrounding a death, it manages to communicate a wholeness of experience that places acceptance and hope as equal partners with sadness.

As such, it reminds me a bit of those famous words of the 14th century mystic, Julian of Norwich:
"…All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well"

Does that seem a lot to read into a simple song? Perhaps; but then this is a personal favourite because it elicits a personal response. Your response will be different – and that’s fine. Life would be very dull if we all saw everything the same way.

Here’s the full list of 30 days’ themes if you fancy giving it a go:

day 01 - your favorite song
day 02 - your least favorite song
day 03 - a song that makes you happy
day 04 - a song that makes you sad
day 05 - a song that reminds you of someone
day 06 - a song that reminds of you of somewhere
day 07 - a song that reminds you of a certain event
day 08 - a song that you know all the words to
day 09 - a song that you can dance to
day 10 - a song that makes you fall asleep
day 11 - a song from your favorite band
day 12 - a song from a band you hate
day 13 - a song that is a guilty pleasure
day 14 - a song that no one would expect you to love
day 15 - a song that describes you
day 16 - a song that you used to love but now hate
day 17 - a song that you hear often on the radio
day 18 - a song that you wish you heard on the radio
day 19 - a song from your favorite album
day 20 - a song that you listen to when you’re angry
day 21 - a song that you listen to when you’re happy
day 22 - a song that you listen to when you’re sad
day 23 - a song that you want to play at your wedding
day 24 - a song that you want to play at your funeral
day 25 - a song that makes you laugh
day 26 - a song that you can play on an instrument
day 27 - a song that you wish you could play
day 28 - a song that makes you feel guilty
day 29 - a song from your childhood
day 30 - your favorite song at this time last year

Hat tip to Steve Lawson (from whom, incidentally, I’m now taking bass guitar lessons) for passing on the idea.

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