groan. the fetid zombie scratches his nuts and pours some coffee. the smell does not open his eyes. he hears voices from the television and its morning show. he swears: “not fucking news” or “go fuck yourself katie couric.” he makes the minor preparations which constitute “getting ready for work.” a dab, a dollop, a splish, a splash. he pulls clothes from the pile. he fills his pockets with the necessary items to navigate a day in the world. he grunts toward his cats, kisses his girl, and stumbles out the door. half a block toward the train station he locates the white earbuds, taps the white plastic, and the music begins…
why is it that we so often call up the loud / up-beat / aggressive / driving music first thing in the morning? do we want to jolt ourselves into consciousness? are we offering ourselves up to the familiar hooks hoping they’ll dig in and drag us into the day? do we need the emotional kick like the sonic equivalent of caffeine? i know that in my case each morning i tend to go directly to my hip-hop playlist. it’s loud, obnoxious, familiar, and ultimately mindless. somehow it seems to offer just the right rhythm for weaving confidently through the morning commuter-crush. the synthetic bravado, pumped directly into the reptile center of my brain, allows me to face the thousand vile train-strangers each morning. it provides a crest for my smoldering dawn-hour hatred to ride on. but is this brainless strut any way to start a day? or to end one?
for the last couple of weeks i’ve forced myself to change this behavior, by-passing the hip-hop, the glitch, the funk, the rock, in favor of my “shhhh” playlist. it’s all drawn-out melodies and introspection. the effect is palpable. where as before i was a toe-tapping automaton ziging and zaging through my morning route in a convincing illusion of purposeful sentience, now i am like a quivering new-born snail, soft and vulnerable, with the predators weaving patterns all around me. i’ve slowed down. i actually notice the sun coming through the trees of central park. i see the fog swallowing whole swaths of the skyline. i even occasionally think thoughts.
what a different experience it is fostering quiet and encouraging lucidity both first thing in the morning and at the end of the workday. the streets are not merely obstacle-dotted footpaths but are instead infused with sadness and dappled with intriguing shadows. the crowds on the subway are not only undulating herds to dodge and despise but oddly touching human tableaus as well. in short- things are somehow more interesting.
so, dear text skimmers, what in the hell am i trying to say? i’m saying that casting off the defensive morning posture has been enjoyable. i’m saying that being a raw, exposed nerve out there on the streets, like a writhing downed power-wire, feels good.
as such i thought i’d offer the particular alchemusical concoction i’ve come up with for effective aural damping.
archer prewit - gerroa songs / white sky
six organs of admittance- dark noontide / for octavio paz
pullman- turnstyles & junkpiles
codeine- the white birch
bonnie prince billy- i see a darkness
songs ohia- ghost tropic / the lioness
chico freeman- spirit sensitive
simon joyner- the lousy dance
john frusciante- niandra lades and usually just a t-shirt
van morrison- astral weeks
dirty three- she has no strings apollo / whatever you love you are
lonnie liston smith- visions of a new world
miles davis- kind of blue
mogwai- come on die young
tom waits- closing time
charles mingus- mingus plays piano
spiritualized- laser guided melodies
godspeed you black emporer- Yanqui U.X.O.
do make say think- & yet & yet
usef lateef- the centaur and the pheonix
idyll swords- ll
king crimson- islands
i know it’s a strange mixture but there you have it. stir liberally, spice to taste, and it makes for an interesting commute.
actually, i’d love to hear some recommendations to add in this general vein. i’m open. feel free.Read Less...
Jose Gonzalez: Veneer
You might like Keiko Matsui… Walls of Akendora.
I would definately give Nick Drake a spin. First Bryter Layter, then Five Leaves Left, then Pink Moon.
His songs are gentle and thoughtful, brings to mind strolling through some leafy london street on a balmy summers day in the seventies.
These selections dovetail nicely into the playlist along with that new-fangled Hippiddy Hop.
air, especially the moon safari album, which is like updated pink floyd with a helping of french cool. closely related vibehood is provided by morcheeba and goldfrapp.
If you like classic, then get some Mozart and some Overtures from Operas. They are usually energetic, but still melodic and never agressive.
Some new age style music is also a nice way to start off, if it has some faster rhythm to it. Some pieces of Enja come to mind - but not too many.
There are some ambient compilation called Space Music out there, which have some more upbeat songs, that are still smooth to the soul.
Or get some lounge sounds like Bert Kaempfert?
Another big space on my iPod is taken by soundtracks:
* Thin Red Line (pure beauty)
* Ocean’s Eleven
* The Last Emperor
* The Pink Panther
* The Sea Hawk
I like to stir my ear with various sounds, from classical to new artist, that I’m introduce to by my daughter and friends
always - keeping an open ear to what makes me ‘tick’
music has such a grand impact over me, it puts me in the mood, it give me the drive, the motion, the silence, the expending feeling or the getting inside…all depends in the circumstances..
i do recommend you to try listening to:
Jordi Savall-Medieval orchestra - it’s divine
Beth Gibbons - divine voice
Element Of Crime - especially their German songs
Martha Wainwright - sweet-rough voice
Rufus Wainwright - a delight!
Hope Sandoval - she’ll kill you softly
as some one once said:“Only so many songs can be sung With two lips, two lungs and one tongue”
taking notes from your recommendations
Given the breadth of your list, it’s hard to imagine that you haven’t thought of the following music already, but still, I think that Iron & Wine, Low, Thievery Corporation, Antony & the Johnsons, Belle and Sebastian, Cat Power, Elliott Smith, Ida (Will You Find Me), Richard Buckner (Devotion and Doubt), Spacemen 3 (Perfect Prescription), Sparklehorse (It’s a Wonderful Life), St. Germain (Tourist), Surjan Stevens (all), and Yo La Tengo (And Then Nothing Turned Itself Inside-Out) might fit the bill. Perhaps some reggae, too—Lee Perry and The Gladiators are my favorites.
i’m happy to say i’ve seen lee perry, with mad professor in a small venue in cambridge, ma if i remember correctly. he had cd’s glued on his clothes and shoes.
thanks for the recommendations everyone. i’m already familiar with some (air, goldfrapp, Belle and Sebastian, Cat Power, Yo La Tengo, etc) but not all of them. i’ll certainly give the others a look.
@orange: i’ve got a recording of requiem which i love. i listen to the classical stations on itunes a lot but they generally blend into one long song in my mind. one of the area’s i enjoy but have zero knowledge of.
Well, gimme me a hint what you like in a ‘classical’ piece and I can recommend some starting points.
If you like some singing or prefer choral works? Maybe bigger sounds - like full symphonic orchestras or smaller ones like chamber music?
Maybe send you some stuff as well?
give the first few Crooked Fingers albums a listen. sad whiskey broken heart goodness.
and of course, as said above, nick drake. though
i’m not as much a fan of “bryter layter” as i am of the others.
don’t forget about tortoise and the sea and cake…
thank you for the recommendation for the
it’s is so touching and beautiful!!!