I feel like an oyster, ingesting some irritant. It rolls around inside me as I mull it over. An oyster can hope that the result of the irritant is a radiant pearl, but in my case the result is usually a clump of misshapen words, a mystifying mass of letters and punctuation.
I write to gain some perspective on the world and perhaps gain some insight into myself. If I translate my thoughts into some form that I can see, perhaps they will make more sense. Maybe by filtering the world around me into readable text, I will begin to see a pattern emerge and things won’t seem so random and meaningless.
Of course, that doesn’t always happen. More often than not, I find that I am not able to translate abstract thought into linear ideas. Sometimes it takes months or years for me to find the pattern I was attempting to delineate. It takes a lot of time to understand life. I feel like I have a very long way to go to finding that understanding.
My stomach hurt as I stared at the screen. It felt like someone had just pierced the lining of my intestine with a rusty butter knife. As I read about the acts of horrible brutality, the callous indifference to humanity, I felt sick. I stared at the pictures of destruction and blood and I felt numb. Who would do this? Who would blow up a family with a faceless bomb? Who can brutally kill children and live with themselves? What kind of twisted monster could commit such brutal acts? How is this allowed to happen? Who would do something like this?
As a voting citizen of the United States, I am responsible for the acts my government commits. The atrocities carried out in my name continue unabated. I’m not sure the blood can be washed away.
There is one thing that unifies human belief: morality. At the core of the world’s religions there is morality, right and wrong. On the whole, this moral spine that religion hangs from is identical. While the flesh that grows around it may vary from religion to religion, the moral spine remains the same. It is best summed up by the Golden Rule, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” It is a simple concept with enormous import. It is a reminder that our fellow members of humanity have the same rights and needs as we do. It is a warning against hypocrisy. It is a warning against lies, theft, murder, rape, and avaricious aggression. The Golden Rule also prescribes its own punishment. If you do these things to someone else, you can expect that they will return the gesture. Therefore, the safest course of action is to treat others as you would treat yourself.
As an atheist, I have been accused of having no morality. I am told that without belief in a higher power that there is no reason I should adhere to any moral code. But morality is not good because it is supported by some all-powerful unseen deity, like Yahweh or the American Legal System. Morality is good because it is proven to be beneficial. I don’t kill or steal just because I am told to. I don’t do those things because they are destructive, not only to any victims but ultimately to myself as well. And not just because I might be arrested. A murdered father has sons; a murdered daughter has a father. Destructive behavior proliferates. Perhaps the consequences will not be felt immediately but immorality has a destabilizing effect. (I hesitate to label it immorality because that brings with it the clinging flesh of religion. Religion likes to sometimes to condemn acts that are not harmful to anyone but their god. This mortal flesh hangs onto the immortal spine of Morality, the Golden Rule.) My morality is easily arrived at through logical thought. “I don’t want anyone to kill me so I won’t kill anyone. If I do it, they will be thinking that I think killing is okay and that it is okay to kill me. Therefore I won’t kill anyone.” Or, “I don’t want to be lied to, so I will be honest with people. Also, if I lie, there is a chance I will be found out and the damage will be greater than if I had just told the truth in the first place. Perhaps it is best to tell the truth.” Or, “I like coming home to a safe and secure home where I know my things won’t suddenly go missing. I think that to make sure that my home is safe, I should not violate anyone else’s. They might then think it was okay to come and take my stuff. I’d better not take anyone else’s things.”
Religion is an elaboration on this very simple concept. A lot of times religious texts can end up sounding like Morality For Dummies. But, on the whole, except in some extreme circumstances, humanity and religion agree on the ethic of reciprocity. It transcends culture, language, geographical location and religion. It is universal and we are hardwired with it as means to ensure our collective survival. Except for a few petulant dissenters, I’m looking at you, George Bernard Shaw, we can all agree that it is the best way to live and the best way to ensure maximum good for all.
Last month, two explosions rumbled the finish line of the Boston Marathon. Hundreds were injured. Mercifully, the fatalities were few. To truly understand the American people, one need only look to the aftermath of a tragedy like the Boston Bombing. There is anguish and compassion. Tales of heroism and humanity emerge from the rubble. And then there are the calls for blood, for revenge, for retaliation. The humanity and heroism fade from the public consciousness when newer news comes along. All that remains is the lust for revenge, for “justice”.
In the last decade, we have seen the merits of this response. In the days following September 11th, 2001, we became a nation united under the banner of revenge. We would root out the terrorists and kill them. There would be no mercy. If you are not with us, you are against us. There were no voices on the national stage asking why something like this would happen. We were told that the terrorists were motivated by a hatred of our freedoms. There were a few who called bullshit. Jeremiah Wright was widely condemned for suggesting that the tragedy may have been in response to our nation’s horrendous humanitarian record throughout the world and that perhaps we had received what was coming to us.
It is a firmly held American belief that we are blameless. Yes, maybe our government has done a few questionable things, but that does not make the American people an acceptable target. They are innocent.
America is a representative democracy. The American people have chosen the government and the government acts at the people’s behest. So if the government carries out obscene acts then it would follow that they are doing so with the approval of the American people. Theoretically, there are not two separate Americas. There is not a government and its people. The two are one and the same. The government is made up of Americans chosen by the electorate.
Our government has committed horrible acts across the globe for the last hundred years. Toppling democratically elected governments, propping up brutal dictators, capturing, imprisoning and torturing innocent people without a trial. In the last decade we have completely destroyed not one, but two nations. We have embarked on a program of what can only be described as state-funded terror with the increased use of unmanned drones. We have the largest prison population in the world, a higher percent of our own citizens are incarcerated than Iran. Our economic policies have decimated the world economy. We have taken a leading role in destroying the global ecosystem.
None of this is secret. None of this is in debate. These things have happened and continue to happen and the American response continues to be indifference. Any debate about the morality or legality of drone strikes has been limited to debate about drones being used within our borders. Any concerns about torture are kept off the front page.
Of course, you say, of course I have more sympathy and compassion for my own countrymen. It is only natural. Sure, it’s sad those people on the other side of the world died, but I didn’t know them; I can’t relate to them.
Another common theme in America is that all life is precious. What is not stated, but what every American keeps in their heart, is that the statement “All life is precious” really means all American life is precious. We are the greatest country on earth. We are the fastest. We are the strongest. We are guided by better principles than anyone else. Our country has the moral high ground. And the proof? The proof is that we have accumulated more wealth than any other country in history. Good triumphs over evil and victory has its rewards.
We may be the strongest and the richest, but that does not give us any extra insight into morality. In fact, if anything, such qualities inhibit morality. Jesus Christ himself said it: “It is harder for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven.” The strong and the rich have no need for morality. They live in a bubble that protects them from reality. They cannot understand the struggles of the weak and the poor. To the powerful, others are pawns or obstacles. You do not worry how the pawn feels when you are shoving it into heat of battle. You do not worry how the obstacle feels as you roll over it, grinding it into the dust. The system of entrenched power that exists in America essentially guarantees that our leaders will be corrupt. Even the most eloquent noble-mindedness is swept away in the raging sea of greed, corruption and graft. The weak are forgotten as the powerful tighten their grip on the reins of power. The weak are kept weak and the powerful grow stupid on the toxic fumes of their own ego.
The root of morality is doing unto others what you would have done to you. What have we done? What have we allowed to be done in our name? What has been done to us? Is a Pakistani life less precious than an American? Is a Middle Eastern child less innocent than an American child? Do we have the moral high ground? Can power and morality coexist? Have we, as a nation, replaced our moral spine with the notion that might is right? If so, is it possible to survive without a spine? Can a nation endure without morality?
We are complicit. We have allowed the powerful, the Men in the Bubble, to carry out atrocities in our name. Every soul we sacrifice saps our strength. While life may be a renewable resource, our humanity is not. Either all life is precious, even the lives of our enemies, or no life is precious, including our own.
I had written a long post for this week. It was a rambling, angry essay. I ranted about the world and how messed up everything seems to be. All the bile and disgust poured out on to the page. I saved it on Tuesday and went to work, intending to post it on Wednesday. Wednesday came and I didn’t feel so angry anymore, sad but not angry. I decided I would wait one more day.
Yesterday, Thursday, I spent my day off alone. I started the day in bed, sipping tea and reading comic books. I read two collections of “Birds of Prey” written by Gail Simone. It was a good way to start the day. I felt happy. I had lunch at one of my favorite restaurants and read a P.G. Wodehouse. I spent the afternoon learning to play old songs on my banjo. I ended the day back in bed with Wodehouse. It was a good day. I forgot my anger and sadness for a while.
It just reminded me of how often we forget about the good things that are happening right in front of us. The little things that seem so unimportant but end up being the very things that make life worth living: a good book, a good song, or a funny joke. Just the very fact that I have the time and safety to enjoy these things is reason enough to be happy. Not everyone lives so grand a life.
Often times I will find myself saying things like, “When such-and-such happens, then I will be happy,” or “Once this event has passed then things can return to normal.” The problem with thoughts and statements like this is that happiness is not a sustained state of mind. There is no normal. There will always be drama and conflict in life. It would be pretty drab if there was not. Rather than waiting for happiness to approach, choose to appreciate what you have. Remember how much you enjoyed your breakfast; enjoy that stolen half hour of comic book reading on your lunch break; treasure that cup of tea that speeds you through the comic misadventures of Psmith. The tiny things that seem so commonplace make a warming quilt of happiness.
Magnified Whisper: Home of the Labored Metaphor
I am an American. I was born in America. I have lived here all my life. I have only ever been to two other countries, Mexico and Canada. I would like to see more of the world but it is expensive getting there. I am painfully aware of my good fortune in having been born in the richest country in history. It is hard not to feel guilty about it.
Recently, I was discussing with a coworker an article I had read. It was about the United States embarkation into the world of unmanned drone strikes, particularly in regard to Pakistan. It was revealed that in order to gain access to Pakistani airspace, the US agreed to eliminate enemies of the Pakistani government. Meaning that they killed people who were not a threat to the United States so that they might kill people who were.
My coworker was not surprised by the revelation and wondered if I really thought that the United States had never participated in political assassinations. I have read enough history and political books to know that our country’s history is littered with bodies of the dead who were killed solely for political gain. Our government has been involved in more despicable acts under the guise of helping than I care to recall, with the result usually being further unrest and instability and creating enemies the world over.
I explained to my coworker that my problem was not with the cowardly murder of Pakistan’s political enemies by our government, though that is shameful and disgusting. My real problem is the oft-repeated notion that America is the “Greatest Country on Earth”. Because I know what Americans mean when they say that. It is the belief in American Exceptionalism. Americans believe that not only are we the best at everything ever, but that we are also the most moral, that in addition to being the fastest, the strongest, the smartest and the richest, we are also the most honorable and compassionate. While you may not hear anybody explicitly say it, it is clear by our reaction to criticism and attack from other countries that it is a widely held and deeply entrenched belief. It is almost impossible for a great number of Americans to comprehend why or how anyone could hate us. Rather than face the fact that we are not exceptional and that the actions of our government throughout its relatively brief history show us to be rather despicable, we persist in the belief that we are somehow great. We are, in fact, a selfish, arrogant nation with very little compassion for anyone who lives beyond our borders. This latest revelation about the origins of our drone program is just the most recent evidence to prove it.
I ranted at my coworker, who has a son in the US military, about the many crimes of the US government over the years. She listened patiently.
“Where would you rather live then?” she asked with some annoyance when I had finished.
I did not hesitate for a second.
The United Kingdom. If I could afford to and if they would have me I would move there today. To anyone who knows me, that would not come as a surprise. I have a strange sort of fascination with the UK that began in childhood with the discovery of Monty Python. I have never been to the United Kingdom, but the Internet makes it easy to stay connected. Admittedly, my love of the UK is largely based on their comedy, but on a larger scale, I feel more of a connection to their country than my own. Besides, I think that most Britons would agree that comedy and humor is an essential part of understanding their culture.
“But wait a minute, Salomé,” you are probably saying. “Surely you are aware of the actions of the British government throughout history. If you are complaining about US involvement in foreign affairs, you can’t just gloss over hundreds of years of British empire.”
I am not. There are many dark doings in the history of the UK and their government, at times, like all governments, has overstepped the bounds of morality. The difference, to me anyway, is that the US government continues to pursue questionable policies without ever pausing for contemplation or public debate. The UK, as a people and as a country, has experienced humility. They have gone from a global empire to a small collection of islands. They held the line in two world wars that exploded on their doorstep. The country that emerged from the rubble of the Second World War was different than the one that entered it. Whatever their creed was when they began, in the end it became “We are all in this together.” The National Health was born and social spending exploded. And while taxes may appear exorbitantly high to your average cutthroat American, citizens of the Crown are assured that they will not fall through the cracks. The least is as important as the most.
That is the phrase that sums up the United Kingdom for me. “We are all in this together.” I’m sure there are many inhabitants of the UK that would disagree with me, perhaps members of the BNP or the SNP and the like, and probably the Tories as well.
My theory is that that is why Margaret Thatcher is such a reviled figure amongst so many Britons. What had largely defined their nation through most of the twentieth century, the notion that the common good was good for all, was swept away by her reforms. Jobs were lost, social spending was cut, families suffered, business succeeded. Where community had once been elevated to national priority, it was now replaced by selfishness and greed. Love of money took priority over the common good.
Try as she and her cronies might, they still could not destroy the bonds that bind Britons together, and the common good still has priority in the souls of the people. You will not find those bonds in America. Only once in my life have I felt that we were all in it together and that was in the months following 9/11 (or 11/9 for any UK readers.) The rest of the time we operate under the assumption that you’re on your own and the only thing that unites us is greed and indifference to our global neighbors.
It is disheartening to see that Thatcher’s destructive policies have been furthered along by the current “coalition” government. With hypocrisy that an American politician would be proud of, Cameron and his moneyed classmates have reduced social spending, cutting funding for libraries, hospitals and the arts, under the guise of promoting the common good. They have implemented baffling new taxes on the poor while cutting taxes for the rich. They have promoted a policy of austerity while somehow finding the seven to ten million pounds necessary to give their muse Maggie a state funeral. Of modern prime ministers, only Winston Churchill has been granted that honor. I think it is safe to say that he did much more for the common good than Baroness Thatcher, whose reforms seem to have benefited only a small number of people.
Anyway, while I am grateful and humbled, to have the good fortune of being an American, I deeply admire the British people and their nation. I worry that if their government is allowed to follow the path they are on, the citizens of the UK will find themselves becoming more and more like the US. Greed will swallow compassion and arrogant hypocrisy will replace civil discourse.
America has much to learn and a lot of growing up to do. It would be nice if we had an example of to look to. It would be nice if we became more like the UK rather than the UK becoming more like the US.
Searching For Mr. White
Ever wonder why the whites of your eyes aren’t always white? In his new book, Dr. Salvador Oleander explains how discoloration in the whites of the eye may indicate more serious illness. He concludes that if more doctors were trained to recognize the signs that appear in the whites of the human eye that the rate of serious illness in the United States could be cut in half.
“They say the eyes are the window to the soul,” he writes in the introduction, “but I say they are the window to the body.”
Many in the medical community have been critical of his analysis.
Dr. Victor Filigree, ophthalmologist and fellow at Dawn Hopkins University, was quoted in the Internet Times-Picayune as saying that “diagnosing a patient by looking into their eyes is quackery of the highest order.” He continues: “Not satisfied with the failure of iridology, Mr. Oleander has moved on to the sclera.”
The criticism has done little to slow down sales of Dr. Oleander’s book. It has been at the top of the Publisher’s Charts for the last three weeks. It has received celebrity endorsements from both Republican Senator Odie DeBloom and Gina Turner, the comedienne turned actress who won the Anthony last month for her portrayal of Virginia Rappe. She credited Dr. Oleander with saving her life during her acceptance speech, boosting preorders of his book significantly.
The air in the boardroom crackled with tension. Every shift in the seat, every rustle of clothing, even the gentle smack of lips separating seemed to echo loudly across the room. All heads were turned toward Eric Wattkins who sat at the head of the table. His palms were pressed together under his nose and his chin was in his chest. His eyes were locked on the man at the other end of the table who had just finished speaking. The tension became unbearable, an infinite silence that roared in the ears of the gathered board members.
“Aren’t you going to say anything?” said the man who had introduced this horrible tension into the room.
Eric Wattkins raised his chin.
“I wasn’t sure you had finished talking. It’s hard to tell where nonsense begins and ends.”
“It wasn’t nonsense, Mr. Wattkins, and you know it. All I’m asking for is information. We have a responsibility to our stockholders and I want to make sure we’re doing our due diligence.”
“And you thought you would do that by accusing me of corporate malfeasance?”
“I did no such thing.”
“You are questioning the way I have allocated funds and resources.”
“I just want to know why we’re paying to have some quack put on the bestseller list when he isn’t even published by our publishing arm. You putting money into the pockets of our rivals.”
“In business,” interrupted Amanda Guichard, sitting to the right of Eric Wattkins, “there are no rivals, only customers.”
“Nevertheless, we are spending money without making money. It’s unsustainable. Do you know how much it costs to get an Anthony award-winning actress to mention a product in her acceptance speech? I just want to know why we’re doing this.”
“You have one job, Jim,” Wattkins said dryly. “You’re the CFO. You worry about the finances; I’ll worry about the vision. You’re never going to understand the artistry that goes into making money.”
“But we’re not making money with any of this!”
Every head whipped toward Eric Wattkins anxious to see how he would react.
“This might just be your last board meeting, Jim,” he said slowly. “You always ruin everything but I will give you what you want. Amanda, if you please. It should go without saying that what you are about to see does not leave this room till after the product launch date which is planned for the end of next month. Amanda.”
Amanda Guichard pressed a button on a remote control. The lights dimmed and the gathered board turned to the screen that was hanging behind Eric Wattkins. He watched their faces as they watched the video. It was a commercial.
“I still don’t get it,” Jim said after the lights had come back on. “Eyeball whitener?”
“Not just eyeball whitener,” Amanda Guichard answered. “iWhite Eyeball Whitener.”
“So all this has just been about selling some eyeball whitener?”
Eric Wattkins was standing. He paced as he answered.
“You just don’t have the vision, Jim. We are selling snake oil. We’re about to make a whole lot of money because we are selling snake oil on a massive scale. With just a few well-placed dollars we find ourselves on the eve of the future. Think about it. We are telling the public what to buy and they will buy it. Whoever thought that someone could feel self-conscious about the color of their eyeball? They will. They will because we told them to. We are creating a market and dominating that new market all in one synergetic move. I predict that in less than a year, you will be buying your daughters fifty-dollar bottles of iWhite. But since you will be out of a job, you will have a hard time keeping your daughters happy. And when that happens, Jim, I will allow you back into the building to apologize. Amanda will send you the details of your exit package.”
He left the room abruptly. The board slowly shuffled out in stunned silence. Jim slumped in his chair. Amanda Guichard stopped beside him on her way out.
“You look terrible,” she said. “You need some iWhite.”
She smiled maliciously and left him alone to ponder his future.
I’m a twenty-six year old college graduate. I work in a bookstore. I’m an amateur banjo player. I secretly paint bad landscapes with watercolors. I love music. I am an avid reader of liner notes. Despite my affinity for music, I am in no way qualified to write about it. I’m not a musicologist. But that’s never stopped me before. So here goes.
I should say that I loathe speaking in generalities. But sometimes in life it is necessary. My premise is pretty broad and open to all kinds of attack, but I’m going to say it anyway, if for no other reason than to just get it out of my head. I’m sure I will probably look back on this one day and wonder what I was thinking, like some of my other posts (here and here). I guess we’ll see.
Modern music sucks.
I told you it was a broad premise. And I should say that I am not indicting all of modern music, but certainly a large segment of it that I will define in a few paragraphs. There is definitely still good music being made, but it goes largely unheard and unappreciated.
I know this is the part where you are thinking to yourself, ‘How can she presume to tell me what music is good and what music is bad?’
I will attempt to explain.
Music, to me, is the most beautiful of the arts. Unlike many of the others, it is best when witnessed in real time. The listener is privy to the moment of creation, in many cases a creation brought forth at the hands of many people working in concert. Humans, filthy, disgusting, bickering, addicts with broken dreams and broken souls, human people working together with such precision and awareness that they draw forth beauty from friction on strings and sticks banging skins, from blowing precisely through metal tubes and plucking at wires, their voices blend together with such harmony that it begins to sound like souls touching. They sing words of poetry that capture life succinctly, sweet and loud. How could such beautiful, such mathematically and emotionally beautiful sounds come from such petty creatures? Or is this a physical manifestation of the beauty of humanity and the goodness we are capable of that isn’t always visible?
Music is more than just about sounds. It is about humanity. It is about common experience. It is about sharing. It is about working together. It is about accumulated experience. Anyone with determination can make music. Anybody who can tap their foot or raise their voice can join in. Music is accessible to anyone who can make and hear sound. It crosses language barriers and is globally accessible. It is the universal language. I think we would do well to greet any visiting alien species with our best musicians and singers. Then they would see it’s not all war and killing and anonymously shouting at each other on the Internet.
‘So with all her gushing praise for music,’ you are thinking, ‘how could she say modern music sucks?’
Modern music is not made by people. It is made by computers. There is no humanity. It is humanity translated by computers. It is a cold reflection, precise. There is nothing exciting about a producer in front of a computer wearing headphones and clicking a mouse button dragging tracks around. There is nothing to be impressed by. There is no hard work or determination. People don’t have to work together; the computer will mediate. “Don’t bother singing well. We’ll fix it in post.” Modern music is just sound. There is nothing deeper. Humanity has been fed into the machine and stripped of all imperfection, leaving a shell, a hollow approximation.
‘Now, hold on. Computers are merely a tool used to create. They are no more responsible for bad music than a hammer is for a poorly built chair.’
That is true. Computers are a tool. But what has happened is that what should be used to augment art has become the sole means of creating it. The work that was once required, the determination, the life, the experience that once went into the creation of art, of music is no longer necessary. Talent, that inborn quality that allows some people to tap into the pool of musical consciousness, is now vestigial like a human tail. It has gone from technology augmenting humanity to create music to humanity augmenting computers.
‘Wow,’ you think, ‘she’s pretty young to be such a Luddite.’
It is not only the computer that I hold responsible for the destruction of music. It is the way that it is treated. I am speaking here about the American music industry and that says it all. “Music industry.” We have made pieces of the soul of humanity into quantifiable commodities to be bought and sold and controlled. Music is no longer created as a form of expression. It is created to be marketable. It is marketed on the basis of its commercial appeal. The “goodness” of a song is viewed through the prism of business and focuses on units sold. In order to sell the most units possible, music must be created that appeals to the broadest audience. In order to appeal to as many people as possible, it is necessary to smooth away any rough edges and present the slickest surface possible so that any shit that may be flung slides harmlessly away. Regional sounds have all but disappeared; the music that people listen to in Washington State is very similar to the music that people listen to in Florida, with small variations that can be attributed to variations in ethnic diversity and median age. There was a time when songs were traded, covered, improved upon, responded to, and requested. Modern copyright law has destroyed the ecosystem of the pool of musical consciousness, forbidding almost any exchange of ideas or cross-pollination. Music, that once great and universally revered pillar of the Arts, has become subject to the dark art of marketing.
I know none of this is new. I know that the industry of music has existed for at least the last hundred years, if not longer. But the music industry of the 1920s, peopled with talented individuals and spirited entrepreneurs, is an anthill when compared to the towering behemoth we live under the shadow of today. In our time, the music industry is heaving with greed and laziness. It is a dirty puddle that spreads out, not a deep pool that reflects truth. Truth, once an ally of the hard-working artist, is no longer welcome in the Musical Industrial Complex. Truth is repugnant to the musical consumer. Sugary beats and vague sentiments of love to satiate the masses. With computers to aid in the production, music, like many of the Arts, can now be made at a fraction of the cost in a fraction of the time with a fraction of the talent.
‘Who cares?’ you ask. ‘Most of the stuff you’re talking about is just pop music anyway. It’s supposed to be like that: disposable. It’s good when you just want something to pump you up or you’re working out or something. I mean, what’s the big deal?’
Perhaps you’re right. Maybe I am making too much from nothing. Maybe it is okay to have music that is disposable. Maybe it is okay for music to be only sound to keep thoughts at bay. Maybe computers make better music than humans.
I don’t know if I want to live in a world where those sentiments are true. I don’t want to live in a world where music has no meaning and its only purpose is to keep the Musical Industrial Machine running. Modern music is the plastic face of humanity, the horrible caricature that has replaced the hopeful, determined, talented, genuine beauty of the past.
Don’t believe there’s a difference between digital music and analog music?
Compare and contrast these two versions of the song “In The Mood”. The first was made in 1983 with great focus on being a “digital” album. Though it was performed by actual musicians, it was recorded digitally. The second was recorded using analog equipment in the 1940s. Which sounds better to you? While the first one sounds cleaner is it better? Does the sterilized digital environment augment the beauty or detract?
Well, dear reader, I would like to apologize. I’m sure you have come to slog through another of my foggy ramblings with an endless repetition of platitudes. There will be no such post this week. I figured it would be fun to share a few songs instead.
First one is from Laura Nyro. You have probably never heard of her. I haven’t met many people that have. But it’s a sure bet you’ve heard one of her songs at some point. The Seventies vocal group The 5th Dimension covered a number of them. The most popular is probably “Wedding Bell Blues”. She was an amazing singer, pianist and songwriter. This song is called “Time and Love” from her album “New York Tendaberry”. I can’t get enough of this song and the album is just as good. It is epic and intimate, accessible and personal. I can’t recommend it enough:
Next is a song by the folk/rock group Hem. I have yet to hear a song of theirs I didn’t like. The singer Sally Ellyson has such a beautiful voice. It is ethereal and unpretentious. They are a group that seems to understand the value of simplicity, the wholesome goodness of analog instruments and the beauty that is revealed when people join together in common purpose. The song is called “Stupid Mouth Shut” and is from the album “Rabbit Songs”. (In the comments section under the video on Youtube, a user has commented “Best album of all time”, a sentiment that, while it may be hyperbolic, I would have to agree with. It is definitely one of the best.)
Finally, it’s Nina Simone. I have only recently become acquainted with her music. She is truly amazing. All that I could say about her is easily summed up by watching the following video of her performance of Bob Dylan’s song “The Ballad of Hollis Brown”. She is powerful and passionate; a beautiful example of a strong woman who is not to be trifled with.
That video is taken from this concert in Holland. If you have a spare forty minutes, you won’t regret watching it. I put it on one night while I was doing some writing. I couldn’t get any writing done; I was so absorbed by her charisma and talent.
Anyway, hope you enjoyed the music.