Curiously, I took a relatively positive look at things recently (17/12/21) on the ‘Friday Fix’ blog post, about music.
Mid-winter is a season for stories, a time when we might listen closer. But there’s a lot of noise, bright lights, glare and mirage…
After the show, after the huge imaginative fantasy, when the angels depart, one has to see things as they really are, and one has to learn to put those imaginings to some practical use…
Breathe in… breathe out… ‘life’ is good… ‘and all shall be well’, ‘and the night can shine like the day…’ ‘All is well, all is well, with my soul…’
To paraphrase John Keats, heard sounds are sweet but those unheard might be sweeter still.
What surrounds us outside the safety of popular noise? What is there beyond the concept of ‘the heard’? (or ‘the herd’ even?)
If we venture away from the noise, what might we realise?… Might there be treasures in quietness and riches stored in silence?
What do we listen to? What do we hear?
A ‘popular’ song that reverberates?
I’ve never been able to pinpoint a song that I could share, there are sooooo many! However, I revisited a song that always inexplicably renders my soul.
Specifically Nina Simone’s recording of, Feeling Good – 1965
Nina Simone recorded the song in 1965 and it’s subsequently been covered by Muse, Michael Bublé and many others.
I first ‘really’ heard it played on a record player as a student in Crewe in the 1990s. I will never forget it filling the house – everything stopped!
I think it’s the ‘massive’ background musical composition (it’s simple, but just so BIG!), together with Nina Simone’s performance that is quite phenomenal.
What do we hear outside of the noise?
One way I have found to tune out of the noise is BBC Radio 3 on my morning commute.
Combine music such as Feeling Good with a sunrise, a river, wildlife, a friendly ‘good morning!’ fresh air, cardiovascular exercise, and occasionally you have a hint towards life in all its fullness.
Breeze driftin on by you know how I feel
It’s a new dawn, it’s a new day…
In years past, I would never have predicted that I might habitually listen to Radio 3! But, I have to admit, over recent years, my morning routine has seen me listening to (fellow Cornishman) Petroc Trelawny’s selections on ‘Breakfast‘ on BBC Radio 3.
During my morning commute, just as the day starts, it occasionally (and surprisingly often) seems possible to glimpse something ‘true’, before the business of the day kicks in, before the popular noise takes over.
River running free…
Blossom on the tree…
As I cycle my 45 mins to work, occasionally, endorphins cause the abstract combination of musical compositions accompanying the fresh air, wildlife, seasons and the things and people I meet, to become more than the sum of their parts.
You know how I feel…
I know very little about the history of music, composers or the political or social relevance of specific music creations. I can imagine for the creators, there is a lot of loaded significance behind, underneath and inside many compositions. Perhaps I might dig deeper at some point. But it’s the raw essence of some music that I find wonderfully powerful.
I have heard it suggested that a definition of ‘classical’ music… is that it transcends cultural, as well as generational barriers… music that’s created through sincere devotion, not through selfish desire, but rather by something greater, which exists beyond time, history or culture. Golly gosh! When you hear a musicologist say “it’s a ravishingly beautiful piece of music … and we can’t quite understand why…” that’s the kind of thing that makes music special.
What has struck me over the last few years is the power of music to affect us.
This old world, is a new word, and a bold world…
Freedom is mine… (and yours)
What surrounds us outside of the safety of popular noise? If we venture away from the noise, what might we realise? What do we listen to?
Listen… the mountains and the hills before us might break forth into singing, and all the trees might clap their hands!
Here’s to finding more unheard melodies in 2022!