Saturday, May 30, 2009

Yes, Gil, I could

Last night as I walked home from work I was listening to John Coltrane ~ Kulu Se Mama. During the song "Vigil" I was thinking about an article that I scanned earlier in the day about sexism in indie hip-hop which mentioned Sage Francis. This lead me to think about the over-all anger in Sage's music towards, well, anyone who isn't him.

..and then the song "Welcome" came on..

And it was so beautiful that it literally slowed my pace, made me stop thinking about anger, and made me look around in wonder at the beauty of the world around me. I even had a minor hallucination that a box by the side of the road was a diorama with ballet dancers. (& let me point out that I was 100% sober at the time) It was truly transcendent.

Could you call on Lady Day?
Could you call on John Coltrane?
'Cuz they'll, they'll wash your troubles away.

~Gil Scott-Heron~

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Lessons from the Project pt. 2

The Collection is History
In a film, a well placed song can help guide us to a desired emotion. The same cinematic moment can also imbue that song with that feeling. This creates an external storage space for that moment, that emotion. When we hear that song again, if the connection is strong enough, the scene floats into one's mind as if the movie were contained in the song rather than the song being part of the film. As someone who has incessantly sound tracked his own life, my music collection serves as a vast reference library to all those moments, all those emotions, that make up a life. As I go through the project, scenes will leap out at me, sometimes unexpectedly, sometimes with warning. Other times I'll be reminded of a whole period, place, or person. But regardless of how minute or macro the memory is, it's as if it's 'stored' in the music. All I have to do is think the line "ridin' my bike to the depot" and I see Sophie in the kitchen at Gould St., crank the the Chili Peppers in the car and I'm back in high school, or hear the opening of Princess Superstar Is to evoke Renee the First. And it's not just extra-musical associations. Listening to say, the Primus catalogue in one day (not recommended) can lead to a deeper understanding of where I was at as a listener at the specific time that ___(fill in the blank.. band/artist/album/song)... was important.

The Project becomes History
One of the points of the Project is conscious listening. As such I frequently have a heightened awareness of what else is happening. This means that Official Project Listening takes on the memory of the moment it happens in. For example, in a previous post I mentioned how the Oranj Symphonette version of A Woman & A Man reminded me of a painful time. Now, as I think back on the Project I have the memory of painting the stairs, listening to that song as Official Project Listening and of having that painful memory. In essence what it does is create yet another map or outline by which I can recall events, only in this instance they are the very specific events of a specific time in which I listened to a given album.