I moved the “stereo” to a new place.
Tucked under the bar in the entrance to my home.
It works visually, snug on an unused shelf and means the old cabinet in the living room could fill with glasses (I have a thing for glasses).
And in a completely unworthy and serendipitous way I have fallen in love with listening to music again.
Now the sound spreads out the door. Onto the steps where in a similar fit of art direction I placed the most comfortable chair in the house: a leather butterfly chair.
And in a house of chairs, THIS seems the best place to sit, read and listen.
I can hear music in my office, but in a different way then from the computer, and it floods the living room and kitchen and out into the garden. It’s so easy to switch on when I walk past out to grab the papers. Back to the chair on the steps, a nice new routine.
In the mess that is hundreds of disorganized CDs, cases, blanks and orphans, I find one of the 2 albums I never tire of hearing.
Bob Dylan’s Nashville Skyline.
Released in 1969, I know I’ve owned a copy forever… vinyl, cd, IPOD. Probably even a cassette.
The songs are simple.
To quote Paul Nelson, Rolling Stone
“Nashville Skyline achieves the artistically impossible: a deep, humane and interesting statement about being happy”
The beauty is the absolute simplicity. After albums of multi layered, complicated moving imagery and manipulation, these songs sing of heartfelt joy, aching love, desire and disappointment.
” Why wait any longer for the world to begin. You can have your cake and eat it too.
Why wait any longer for the the one you love, When he’s standing in front of you.”
Critics nailed Dylan for celebrating the banal and cliched, but the album became his best selling to date and many loved his new voice, a soft country croon, the duet with Johnny Cash and the insidiously lovely melodies.
So back on rotation when I’m home alone and just puttering.
“To be alone with you, just you and me. Why don’t ya tell me its true, aint that the way it oughta be?
To hold each other tight, the whole night thru. Everything is alright when I’m alone with you.”
The other “never tire” album?
Kanye West’s 808’s and Heartbreak.
Described as “provocatively miserable,” I played it over and over when it was released in 2008. So easy when you own a cafe and no one realizes the same music has been on repeat since 8am (sorry noshies!).
Cool minimal electronics, sad sad devastation and exhausted, heartbroken lyrics.
“I keep it low, keep a secret code / so everyone else don’t have to know,”
“There is no clothes that I could buy
That could turn back the time
There is no vacation spot I could fly
That could bring back a piece of real life”
And like Dylan 30 years before, a whole new voice, albeit surrounded by AUTOTUNE, the digital pitch device, amplifying rather than anesthetizing emotion.
His minimalism reminds me of favorite painters or sculptors: simplistic externals that suggest a complicated interior.
Kanye took a robotic drum machine and autotune and created a deep and beautiful collection of songs.
I don’t know why I can listen to some albums over and over or read some books again and again.
It’s like the B grade movie, so often more personally relevant, informative and enjoyable than the classic. And the books I repeatedly indulge in and the albums I never tire of hearing, speak to me in a whole different way.
I heard Daniel Levitan, author of “This is your Brain on Music”, speaking on NPR about the interplay of familiarity and novelty, and how listening to music coordinates more disparate parts of the brain than almost anything else.
Maybe that’s the thing… disparate brain parts, heartache and joy, the new and the old all wrapped in lyricism and melody.
PS.Some books I reread:
Daniel Martin by John Fowles
The English Patient by Michael Ondaatje
Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert
Some albums I replay:
Alison Krause’s Now that I found You
Kid Cudi’s Man on the Moon 2
Happiest concert ever: sounds and smiles as he sang the ‘coldest stories ever told’!