Old friends, Bob and Kanye.

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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.

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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.”

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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.

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“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.

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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

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             Happiest concert ever: sounds and smiles as he sang the ‘coldest stories ever told’!

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Rock Anthem Power Ballad

journey-unauthorized Hard to believe I had missed a whole school of music, and one amazing song in particular… Lots of Oz Rock (and that’s an Encyclopedia of Greatness), West Coast sound, Dance and Trance, hearing the Sex Pistols and knowing, in that moment, everything had changed .

So I moved to London.Hung out in clubs and pubs, danced and devoured everything the UK music scene could offer.

Saw The Clash, The Specials, UB40, Siouxsie and the Banshees, XTC, Black Uhuru, The Pretenders,Elvis C, Graham P, U2 ( when Bono was plump) and pilgrimaged wherever The Jam went. Epic nights of music .

A decade later, a marriage and move to LA, it took freeways, interstates and local radio to beat me into submission….

YOU WILL LOVE BIG AMERICAN STADIUM ROCK

YOU WILL SING POWER BALLADS AT THE TOP OF YOUR LUNGS ..

YOU WILL THINK DON’T STOP BELEIVIN’ IS THE GREATEST SONG EVER WRITTEN.

In spite of a preference for West Coast road trips it’s hard to argue with the big and loud and wide and deep of commercial radio in the midwest. An the incredible power ballad gorge-a-thon when you drive from Milwaukee to St Louis, to Detroit and Cleveland and Chicago.

The genre kills: inescapable, emotional, ubiquitous .Journey with skinny Steve Perry screaming “Don’t Stop Believin” is the rallying, pump-up song for the White Sox, the Dodgers and nearly every second high school football team.

It’s the best selling song in digital download history ( until Imagine Dragons”Radioactive”…yuk)

Released in 1981, I missed it first time around.Apparently it reached only 100 on the Aussie charts, just a little better in the UK.

Described somewhat sourly by music critics as a “Kareoke Pop Ballad” .You’ve got to be kidding!?! Who can sing it like Steve Perry? I like the Jezebels Triple J version , but it’s a little knowingly hipsterish and twee, love the Glee cast rendition ( you tube people) and can’t believe I found a thumpy amped up dance version downloaded in my library ( tequila?)

I forget how much I love it when I”m just living my regular,day to day SoCal life .

Steve, Journey and The Song fade into a mushy background like books I read long ago or old boyfriends.

However, I’m reminded of Al Gore’s wry comment describing “winners, losers and that lesser known, third category”.

Song as Olympic Games opener anyone?

Season 2 finale of Lillehammer and Trond Fausa Avrag’s heartbreakingly vulnerable Torgei tries out for the local production of Glee…

“Just a small town girl

Livin’ in a lonely world

She took the midnight train

Goin’ any where

Just a city boy

Born and raised in South Detroit

He took the midnight train

Goin’ any where

A singer in a smokey room

The smell of wine and cheap perfume

For a smile they can share the night

It goes on and on and on and on

Don’t stop believin”