I became insane with long intervals of horrible sanity.
Edgar Allen Poe
The trouble with fighting for human freedom is that one spends most of one's time defending scoundrels. For it is against scoundrels that oppressive laws are first aimed, and oppression must be stopped at the beginning if it is to be stopped at all.
- H. L. Mencken
Many people would sooner die than think; In fact, they do so
What I have been telling you, from alpha to omega, what is the one great thing the sigil taught me — that everything in life is miraculous. For the sigil taught me that it rests within the power of each of us to awaken at will from a dragging nightmare of life made up of unimportant tasks and tedious useless little habits, to see life as it really is, and to rejoice in its exquisite wonderfulness. If the sigil were proved to be the top of a tomato-can, it would not alter that big fact, nor my fixed faith. No Harrowby, the common names we call things by do not matter — except to show how very dull we are ...
-James Branch Cabell
May 19, 2017 - 10:52 a.m.
I woke up so early, I should be finishing writing this not just starting. I hate when I do that. The procrastination is related to the anxiety. It took me most of my life to realize that. Now I just have to learn to overcome it.
It was too hot to go outside yesterday if I didn't have to and I didn't have to. Air conditioning is one of the great inventions. The growth of the sun belt especially California would not have happened without it.
I watched some Doctor Who yesterday. I am a few seasons behind but I am back to loving it. Peter Capaldi is the best of the new Doctors but I think the difference is more about the writing than the acting.
What else is exciting? Buffalo chicken wings. It was the first time I made them with the Trader Joe's hot sauce. I think it was hotter than Pete's. I thought I hadn't used enough but it packed quite a wallop. I only cook food that I love, just liking is not enough. Does everyone do that? At least everyone that cooks only for himself?
Somehow thinking about that led to my remembering something a friend of mine asked me about music. He just didn't understand what I got out of it. He wanted to know if when I listened to classical I imagined myself conducting the orchestra. While I have done that and I've played air guitar and air other instruments that comes out of being immersed in the experience. It isn't the cause of the immersion. He wasn't tone deaf. He could play piano. He had lessons. His father loved music but somehow that wasn't passed down. I can imagine not loving music, I can't imagine not understanding how other people could love it. Art is built into our brains, it's universal. All cultures have music, dance, visual arts, and storytelling. They don't all have the dramatic arts and literature but those are storytelling by other means.
Let's go back to music and anxiety and procrastination. Orly Bendavid asked on Facebook if any of her friends were music bloggers. I raised my hand. She couldn't see that, this was Facebook after all, so I also commented that I was. She sent me her band, Orly Bendavid and the Mona Dahls' new CD Mona to review. I've never done something like that. I had never heard her perform live. I was unfamiliar with her music. She's part of my musical crowd. I like talking to her and that's always a good sign for songwriting. But still, there are plenty of people whose I love as people but not as musicians. What if I didn't like her album? What would I do? I did what I do when faced with anxiety; I procrastinated. Maybe I'd be lucky and the world would end before I had to deal with it. That plan has never worked out. I really should give up on it. I am in therapy and I am on meds and those both help so I finally listened. I tipped you off to that when I mentioned a couple of days ago that I played Oh God from the album on my radio show. So now I just have to figure out how to write about it. I've listened to the album a few times trying to get a handle on it. Perhaps that's the handle.
I can start with obvious; Orly is not another sensitive woman with a guitar writing about her feelings. The sound is far richer, the instrumental lead is a violin which beautifully complements her voice. Orly might live in the folk world but it's not folk music. It's not jazz. It's not pop. It's easy to say what it isn't, but what is it? Dramatic comes to mind. But the sound isn't musical theater. Imagine that a playwright/director was trying to explain a character to the actor playing the role; with one catch. The director can't speak in ordinary language, she can only sing. What would come out is very much like the songs on Mona. The character is conveyed as much by the music as by the lyrics.
I'm started listening again as I write this to remind me of what I'm forgetting. One thing is part of the reason I started by talking about food. The music is sensual and sultry; think Lena Horne singing Stormy Weather. Orly doesn't sound like Lena, the songs don't sound like Stormy Weather but they generate the same emotional response.
I said it is not jazz but there are elements of jazz. There are also elements of Latin music. There's even some neuromusic in there. I often say music appeals to the Bach part of my brain. Orly's appeals to the Tchaikovsky part. The sound is lush and romantic.
I am going to have to see her live. The album is more produced than most of what I listen to. The producer Huw Price did a masterful job. He has the pedigree, he's also worked with David Bowie and Nick Cave. Hey Alex, did you hear that?
Now I'm going to use pure writing magic. I'm going to describe the music so vividly you'll think you are hearing it. For the magic to work you'll have to click on the triangle pointing to the right.
Pretty damn impressive; I made you to hear what I'm hearing. That's writing.
Now comes eating. I have another tough decision. What will I have with my matzoh brei, bacon or sausage? Remember to come join me and Terre Roche tonight for the Sunset Singing Circle at Robert Wagner Park at 7 PM. Just bring your voice and ears, the park provides the songbooks and yoga mats.
Mets and Magic - May 24, 2017
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