There are some likes that come very close to loves. I love to love Love, and I love to like Music. That makes Music a kind of love . . . And I know I know I know that the divine Spirit sings to us through what we love.
There is music all around, but Music (capital M) touches the soul. It can touch the souls of everyone who can hear it. “He who has ears to hear . . .”
Given that there are 7.5 billion people alive today, and that, according to the Population Reference Bureau, 107 billion people have so far lived on earth, THAT is a lot of soul touching over the years.
Alexa the Affable, a barista friend, likes “Your Glass House” by Atmosphere. It paints a common, but too dark picture of a life that seems out of control. I like this song too, not because it inspires me or takes me to the Holy, but because it shows me what I could be, without the Divine, what I have been when I was not focused daily, constantly on that abiding presence. Here’s a sample of the lyrics:
Everything seems so sour
So you forced yourself into the shower
Standing up brings out the stars
And the whole bathroom smells just like a dive bar
Can’t do it, better sit
And let the tub be the catcher’s mitt
Thank god whoever lives here ain’t around
Now what you need is silence
And you don’t want no one to see you like this
Maybe you don’t recognize it
But this is your home, this is where your life lives
I knew I wanted to write about Music, but not just me, not only my thoughts and ideas. So I ordered a quad half-caff upside-down con panna (because it is early on my day off), and I asked Alexa what one of her favorite songs was. “Your Glass House”, she told me, with no hesitation. She is an affable person. Look it up–she is all of those synonyms–and she is insightful, very open, and an excellent barista, a credit to this coffee shop in my building. So the contrast in persona and music choice was striking. But, then I got it. It is her Music. Her Muse-ic.
And, I have my little music too. But, then Music, well . . . Music has me. I listen, and Music draws me in, changes me, and then sends me on, but within itself. It is very much a divine language. It is one way that what I call “God” speaks and reveals Truth and Reality. Beauty. And Love . . .
Stravinsky’s ballet, The Rite of Spring, is my “Your Glass House.” You may have heard the tale, that The Rite was a riot. It did, apparently, incite an uproar at its premier in Paris, on 29 May 1913. In an NPR program, commentator Thomas Kelly stated, “The pagans on-stage made pagans of the audience.” I have heard it performed live a few times, and it can be gut-wrenching.
It is savage, physical, visceral–I could go on–Music that captures the story of a pagan rite, a rite of Spring in two parts: “The Adoration of the Earth” and then “The Sacrifice”, in which a maiden, The Chosen One, finally dances herself to death in a frenzied climax. And I listen to this piece when I have a certain variety of angst, when I feel the need for primal, base-level action or thought. My favorite recording? Valery Gergiev conducting the Kirov Orchestra! It is the single recording that captures the brutality of the piece. I do not, ever, wish to live that way; but, I sometimes feel that way.
Another piece . . . this word “piece”, hmmm I am not sure. Perhaps it is fine, as Music stands alone, and we can bear pieces of it, in time, only a measure of Music for heart or soul or mind or even body–that is all we have the capacity to take in and be taken by . . . so, ok, another piece that I love is the adagio from another ballet, Gayane, by the Armenian, Aram Khachaturian. The story was originally called Happiness, and it is a nice story, but oh dear God, the adagio! I cannot get past it, and I do weep sometimes with longing and find a window to look wistfully through to the outside, outside myself, for something, someone, maybe anything. This is best done on a dark, warm night, when the wind is blowing, and the curtains at the window can brush your face, almost as if that touch of lace is from the object of longing. It was just such a night when I first heard it, in high school. I do not want to live that way for long. But, I do sometimes feel that way.
Holst’s The Planets, well you know from other posts what I think of this music, so I will not repeat or go any deeper. Then, there are two albums that are glorious, but especially for their title songs: Aja by Steely Dan and Wish You Were Here by Pink Floyd. Practically anything by Pink Floyd is pure goodness. Or Chicago, greatness! They always “Make Me Smile.” And there is Kiss My Axe by Al Di Meola, perfect and polyrhythmic. And there is the entire World of Jazz. Too much. Music is too much to write.
And, Rachmaninoff. I have never heard anything from Sergei that is short of majesty. A friend once said that Rachmaninoff is the Romans 8 of Music. It is true: there is no condemnation! And, Sweet Mother of All Living, the second movement from his Piano Concerto No. 2 in C minor is everything that the adagio from Gayane is, but with more than a fluttering curtain at a window. This music is closer still, it takes me outside the window. And almost, almost that something or someone or anything can be touched. I do not mind living in this, and I often feel this way.
But, there is one more piece, a piece of the divine flow of Music, that evokes and captures and transports and surrounds. This one comes so close to Music that it becomes more than a piece of it. There is no adequate word. Only Music.
It is Daphnis et Chloé by Maurice Ravel. It too, is a ballet, a story, an epic narrative that depicts, to me, an ideal life–a true, authentic, fulfilling, and joyful life. It is all there: youth, pastoral peace, danger, beauty, love, separation, longing, union, and victorious happiness (and no dancers needed, it is beyond ballet). Favorite recording? Charles Dutoit with the Ochestre Symphonique de Montreal. Dutoit brings out of this orchestra, as closely as any other recording, the sheer beauty and romance and utter joy of Ravel’s inspiration. This is experienced, not listened-to Music. It deserves whatever can be brought to it, but then requires an emptying of all that is brought, so that the Music can change you. It has changed me. This is how I feel, all the time. Always. And this Music, this is how I want to live.