Friday, January 06, 2012

Condensed Music (part 2)

My time has become more valuable over the years and I'm afraid that it's time to shrink my year-end lists down to a more condensed and manageable process. One of the unique experiences that I have with music is that it has turned into a wonderful inspiration for my storytelling flair to spread its wings. Perhaps this has always been the case as the parts of brain that process each element in its own way could easily be linked by some creative force that cradles the ridges and valleys of my cerebellum with electrical current that encourage me to sing sing sing in the most beautiful voice that I know. What that means is that I dig down within my subconscious and find a story to tell the world and it all comes from an impulse or feeling that registers when the songs fill my head. So here's a few stories that I wish to tell. Though they are condensed versions, I suggest you simply add water, click on the songs and cultivate the earth. In time, the full version may come to blossom there, where you sit and listen.

20. Thievery Corporation - Culture of Fear

She liked to work with others when she expressed herself creatively. Open to the broad diversity that the world offered, she found that she was only able to overcome her own limitations with a collaborative experience. Alone, she noticed that people tended to fall back on convention and stagnated within the comfortable confines of reliability and safety but when she was forced to deal with someone else's perspective then her own, ideas evolved into a more amazing space. So she pushed and pulled and expanded and shrunk and embraced other artists around her who were willing to do the same with her. In this way her life was never left wanting.

19. Lia Ices - Grown Unknown

18. Portugal. The Man - In the Mountain In the Cloud

Her very first memories of him are faint but always happy. They're more of a feeling, really, being lifted into the sky with playful arms, riding upon his shoulders and breathing the musky odor of his hair. He was a hero, she recalls that as well. She was only six at the time of the first Gulf War and she didn't want him to go that day, standing on the tarmac clutching his leg as tightly as she could. Even then, she knew that nothing good would come of it, though he was going to fight the good fight and liberate the oppressed. He came back damaged, not physically but something else that had broken him inside. He wept over the slightest bit of joy and fell into dark dreams that he couldn't recall upon waking, though the evidence was there for all to see on the bodies of his wife and child. Ten years later, when the son of the President sent more soldiers back to that awful place, she hit the streets with protest, locking hands with friends to unite with affront  Even though he was no longer around to give her strength, she carried his spirit like a child aloft upon her shoulders, a buoyant gift that welled out of her life. A father's true worth carried within the actions of his daughter.

17. The Books - The Way Out

16. Jolie Holland - Pint of Blood

She could easily recall the words of hurt that he unleashed upon her when they were young but old enough to find fault in their dreams of tomorrow. Well, that future world had arrived and she was just as shocked as everybody else about the guest he brought to the wedding. She knew that he would come to her room long after everyone else was asleep because he kept giving her strange looks during the festivities, as if he really needed to tell her something. He wanted to unburden his soul and dump out some of the sadness that lay like a shawl across his shoulders. She let him in, a drunken light shimmering in his eyes, and he hugged her with a deep love of camaraderie. They smoked some of her weed and then he asked her to hear his confession. He had been terrible to her because he resented the strength that she had to come out and stand forth with authenticity despite being ostracized by almost everyone. Doesn't the worst vitriol always come from those who understand your plight but turn away to hide the shame touching their cheeks? He admired her most of all in the family and remorse flowed out of him with warm tears and emphatic apologies. But he really just wanted to thank her for giving him power, even when he didn't deserve it, for he first began to live true to himself during those teenage years.

15. Twin Shadow - Forget

14. Bibio - Mind Bokeh

He searched for the presence of God in all things. Even after all of the seminary and catechism courses, after the confirmation, he continued to feel that he must search far and wide for the precious gifts that gave life to the divine. So he kept moving when he could and refused to limit himself to his assignment from the church. He traveled to Africa, South America, even took a trip to Antarctica one summer hoping to feel or hear something special in that sparse landscape. All of his travails were rewarded with wondrous teachings and helped him connect in a beautiful way with his soul but not once did he know the voice of God. It wasn't until decades later, following a life of giving, sharing compassionately with the people in his community, that it happened, almost by accident. He took walks in the neighborhood, throughout the city and then God began to speak to him. Softly at first, in the heart of a flower, in the whisper of the leaves or through the aroma of burning wood. Then more forcefully, a car horn or a shout down from an upper floor window to a friend. In an embrace that was filled with love. In the tears of a child. It was only when he became a witness to the mundane human experience that played like a symphony all around him that he truly discovered the presence of God.

13. Thao & Mirah - Thao & Mirah

12. The Villagers - Becoming A Jackal

The first time he went to the fortune teller, it was a lark, a goading prank from his fraternity brothers. He never imagined that it would turn into something so magical. She gave him access to the conspiracies of the old world, past lives that he knew in his heart were true. His life as a slave, when he discovered a love so powerful that the ache of his want resonated throughout every life that came after. The time his life was cut short in his youth and he became trapped as a spirit in the massive house where he had lived, not managing to escape until it burned to the ground centuries later. A feeling so old that it was only a hazy recollection of a musical instrument where his fingers made beauty. A frivolous existence of indulgence in unprecedented wealth when he embraced others without passion, got lost in the sickness of drugs and disease and only felt misery. Before long his friends began to mock him and worry that he'd fallen under the spell of the mysterious woman with shimmering eyes. But even if the stories that she told him were only a means for her to extract money from his wallet, he still wouldn't give up his time with her. Because she gave him something so much more...meaning in his life.

11. Wye Oak - Civilian

Let's go in the water, she said. Something so simple but they had been drinking wine and were giddy with pleasure, so the spirits of the unforeseen made easy prey of them. Now he was numb from the suffering that had laid hold of his heart but they said that he was well enough to go home. Once he returned, his friends and family avoided the subject of loss and he didn't mind so much at first. Then it began to become a problem, this avoidance of avoidance, so he decided to open his eyes to the light and that's when the angels began to appear. Sometimes they came to the places where he felt intimacy, in the faces of those who loved him. Sometimes they jumped at him from the mouths of strangers, in the structure of new occurrences. He embraced this divine guidance and the path that began to unfold revealed an entirely different truth from the one he had held against his chest ever since that night. In this new awakening he could perceive that she was very much alive and this brought him the greatest joy, so much so that he was finally able to truly let go.

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