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“Anybody can play. The note is only 20 percent. The attitude of the motherfucker who plays it is 80 percent.” – Miles Davis
For some reason, this quote by Miles Davis has been swirling around in my head lately. About once every couple of months I engage in a conversation with someone about whether or not art should be judged purely at face value or if it’s appropriate to consider details about the artist’s life when assessing a piece of music (or art).
It’s a difficult question to answer, if not impossible, since pretty much any piece of music that we find appealing, naturally fills us with at least a fleeting desire to learn more about it. But once we do, how we hear that music is never really the same.
Going back to the quote, it seems as though Davis is saying that the effect of knowing personal details…
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Recently, I took part in a four day, stay at home, silent meditation retreat. There were occasional talks but part of the idea was a break from everyday stimuli. I chose to not look at my phone, watch TV, or even read for the entire length of the retreat.
I had some anxiety about whether I could even do it. It’s funny, I lived almost my entire childhood without cable TV. Cellphones weren’t even a common thing until I was in my mid 20’s. But I have become so conditioned that being without them for just four days made me a little edgy. I also didn’t listen to any recorded music.
Oddly enough, none of this was as difficult ask I had anticipated. After about a half a day, I started noticing the complexity of all the sounds happening in the natural world around me. I ate all my meals…
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I started meditating a few years ago. Recently, I discovered this really cool app that includes a bunch of different guided meditations and ambient music tracks. It has a nice timer where you can choose your favorite starting yoga bell-sounds and even pic different nature soundscapes to play in the background while you do your thing. During the winter I chose the sound of a burning campfire to meditate to and I have to say it really helped soften the edges of serious winter depression. But recently, I caught myself, on an early summer morning, in front of a closed window in my temperature controlled home, meditating to a loop of light, outdoor sounds with birds chirping in the distance and a soft summer breeze blowing through trees. Soon after I finished, I realized that I could have just opened a window or stepped out on to the porch and…
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Sometimes, May conjures up images of sprites and fairies dancing around the maypole. I’m going to steal an image from a recent Dharma talk I witnessed by Robert Brumet. The image is of “dancing with your demons.” As our bones continue to thaw and we shake off the winter blues, we may find ourselves inspired to get outside and be more active. It could be interesting to take some of that energy and try dancing with your demons. Dancing is all about rhythm and flow. Sometimes, you have to let the demon lead the dance. Sometimes, you have take that demon, and swing it around, and put it where you need it. And sometimes you have to hold that demon close, for a long slow dance, so after a while, you don’t even notice it’s there anymore. Hopefully, these tunes will inspire you to do a little dancing with…
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April is the cruellest month, breeding
Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing
Memory and desire, stirring
Dull roots with spring rain.
— from “The Waste Land” by T.S. Eliot
T.S. Eliot was one of my favorite poets in college. His dark imagery and twisted perspective spoke to me as a young artist. I thought to be “real” I had to be tortured and cynical. I would seek these things out for inspiration and validation. As I get older, it seems like suffering gets easier and easier to come by. Music has always helped me find the beauty and love attached to all suffering.
This month’s playlist includes songs by Red House Painters, Thomas Patrick Maguire, Herman Dune, Jeffery Lewis and Los Bolts, The Dead Texan, Casio Tones For The Painfully Alone, Wire, Rema Rema, The Feelies, Neil Young, Brooke Pridemore and more…
(Subscribe to get a new playlist…
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“When you know how to listen everyone is the guru.” I used to tell myself that listening to music was the best distraction from things that might be stressing me out or making me feel bad in my “real” life. Now I think about it differently. Listening to music helps me focus on what is really important. What is really important is what is happening right now. Real life is right now.
This month’s playlist includes songs by Grandaddy, Odd Pets, The Raincoats, The Sluts, Pavement, Zooboy, The Louvin Brothers, Daniel Johnston, Randi Russo, Boby Gentry, John Fahey and more…
(Subscribe to get a new playlist every 1st Monday of the month. Click on my user link and cruise past playlists to discover more music.)
A lot of us have endured some extreme shifts in weather, amongst other things, this month. Hopefully spending some time listing to this music will help smooth out some of those rough patches. This month’s playlist includes tracks by T. Rex, Cate le Bon, Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds, Tones On Tail, Lucy Arnell, Mr. and The Mrs., Sons of Great Dane, Good Saint Nathanael, Major Matt Mason USA and more. Enjoy, and Happy Year of The Pig!
(Subscribe for a new playlist every 1st Monday of the month. Feel free to cruise past playlists for even more music.)