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Thursday, March 28, 2013

Moonchild and Friend: A Sonic Study of a Morning Walk Playlist

 Note from the artist:
Every morning I walk Henry and every morning my iPod plays a "random" Playlist from among a gazillion tunes. I love how every morning there is a sort of theme linking the tunes together and so I am posting the songs as they pop up, along with my thoughts (or no thoughts) about each tune.

Amanti io vo se dire - anne softie (scattered rose petals) (deep breathing.... Calm thyself.)

The day - moby (dang I love moby... Kills the pain... Henry chasing after pigeons and the twirling of wrapping and unwrapping the leash around me)
(A haze, a smoggy spring. Thinking of the pain of the people, sending a wish) (I will be right here til all the pain just disappears) (its Easter time. That's for redemption.)

( Haha! Next song)
A Chant for Easter.... Alleluia Pascha nostrum- Milan records 1997- (I swear my phone is bewitched) (walked past two middle aged men kissing.)

A song for me- M83 Moonchild
(Gonna hear the future now, my children in the ethers) (this world is too rich to talk about, only music fits at a time like this) (a homeless young man in the lavender and sage) (this, too, is somebody's Moonchild) (smiles) (henry plays) ("i was in love with the voice... But all I heard was the echo and the light.")

If only to knock hipster off the bottom of my résumé...

And for .. fun....

Cher! Dove l'amore. Yesssssass.

(Unabashedly I Lllllllllluuuurrrrrve Cher! I have seen her live three times. She is amazing and gorgeous and funny. And she is in some of my favorite movies ever, most importantly, Moonstruck. So my playlist is still so connected!... Halfway through our morning walk, a theme is emerging.)

(Dance remix!)

(Oooooooooh. I have been craving the movies the next tune is from!)

An Ocean Apart by Julie Delpy

(Sorry- dropped my phone for a second as Henry chased after an unsuspecting skater.)

(An ironic return to the playlist...)

Black Butterfly, ahem, by, uh... Me.

Oooh! Bon Iver. Blood bank.

Yeah! The sexy voice of Muse....

Oh, man. Everything in life is worth it when you listen to this next tune:

I'm old fashioned, Coltrane

Just enjoy for a bit-

Okay! Back to a different kinda fun rounding out the list...

Are you ready?......

Shania!!!!!! Whoooooooooot! Any Man o Mine!!!

Yeah! I like it that way!!!! Shimmy! Shake! Make the earth quake!

(Last minute entry as I walk in the door- Mon Couer S'ouvre a Ta voix, from Samson et Dalila!)

Sunday, March 3, 2013

The Mirror

Sunday afternoon, 1 PM.

The north part of “The Valley,” suburban Los Angeles. CA.

So I'm walking Henry on a bright sunny day. I have just returned from a voice lesson and a long chat after that lesson with a lovely fellow singer-songwriter about how to make a difference in this world: Whether through political protest? Or is it better to be making songs that change people's hearts? Maybe by changing my own heart to become more open; or whether or not being certain of my ideas (when it comes to things like, for example, torture, is really the best way to improve the overall situation for Humanity) or… instead…. to listen with the mind as open as when one listens to a symphony, or a jazz composition, or a Top 40 pop single.... As all of these pieces of music are wildly  different from one another, but they are ALL music…

And so here I am, ambling down Victory Boulevard,  holding my iPhone in my hand like a shield, when a man, probably in his 50s, wearing sweatpants, a baggy T-shirt, and a do-rag notices me. Now, this is the sort of person I go out of my way to smile at because I guess he would not be expecting that. He would not be expecting me to smile a friendly smile of: “Hi there, fellow human, I see you.” I think that, because often when I have NOT smiled at my fellow human being, they let me know, one way or another, I am behaving like an uptight white lady. So, not so much because I care about whether or not I’m uptight (mostly I’m not) or white (definitely am) or what they think of me (maybe just a little) but because I want to extend humanity and kindness even in the smallest of gestures, I smile. He walks past, ignoring me, but then I hear:

"Excuse me," he says. "Excuse me."  I turn around to face him. There is an edge to his voice, a sort of edge which puts me on alert… But I am dedicated to growing past my history and growing past my prejudice.  Not every dude on the street wants to hit on me and not every person should be avoided. And yet to be honest, as a lifelong single woman who has taken care of herself, I have learned to respond to men in this fashion with a sense of heightened awareness.

"Yes?" I answer, smiling. Henry tugs on his leash in the other direction.

"Is it America or is it me? Am I losing my mind?” he asks, throwing his free hand in the air, gesturing toward traffic. "Am I losing my mind, or is America changing?" I nod, yes, and smile like Mona Lisa. Either or both might be true.

"So it's not just me, then," He says, pointing at traffic now with his finger. "America is really changing."

Silently I ask God to help me speak to this man who is clearly troubled in his heart. I err on the side of listening.

"Now it ain't just black folks in the shelters," he says, gearing up, "It's all folks. White, black, Hispanic. All folks are losing their houses, and all the people are down here in the trenches and America's going off the fiscal cliff. And nobody wants to look at you. Nobody wants to look you in the eye. Nobody wants to smile and they sure don't want you to smile at them. Everybody's angry and mean and unkind and ain't nobody holding each other's hands."

I nod. "I guess we have to be the example," I say searching for something to say to help this man who is so burdened. I don't want to tell him I don't agree with him because that seems unfair given my apparent background and relative freedom and his apparent background.

"I'm tired of being the example!" He is shouting but he seems ready to cry.

I want to reach out to hug him but I'm afraid he will take it the wrong way and I don't have time to kindly explain I'm not romantically interested ... Again my prejudices are coming up, and yet, I feel that history and that prejudice and silently admonish myself or my fear.

"I'm a musician," he says, "I'm always the example.  Always. I’m always up there onstage, making you happy, making everybody smile.  Just like actors and actresses. But I am tired. At least if we're all in this together can't we hold hands and be in this together? What about Martin Luther King Jr.? But nobody wants to be the light, and they sure don’t want to see my light shine. Nobody wants to hear what Martin said. It's like their light ain't shining so they have to push mine out too." He stamps out an imaginary light in front of him. Then, he stops, stares out into the street for a moment, and then looks back at me. Through his shaded glasses, I see his eyes softening.

He shrugs, reaching into his black plastic bag, pulling out a 40 oz. bottle of beer.

"And I don't even like drinking," he says.

"Then all I can say to you," I say, smiling, and really truly meaning my words, "is God bless you."

He cracks open the beer.

"If people like you and me are down here, what hope do we have for the rest of America?"  He nods at me, a silent 'good day,' and walks away.

I watch him walk away. I wonder what on earth I could say or do. I begin to dictate the story into my phone so I can put it up on my blog, because it’s all I know to do, because maybe someone in his position will read this and know I do care, at least, I really do care, and I have hope. I have a lot of hope. Even moreso, I have faith. Really, I do. And so we can know, somehow, we are not alone. And I think it is important to be honest about my responses too, about being scared because I don’t want to get harassed but that I am willing to try not to assume every dude on the street wants to harass me, because while it’s minor compared to the pain of losing your house or your family or your belief in life, it’s also something we might as well be honest about too. And together we can overcome our fear- like Martin said. And I want to be honest. And I want to hold hands and be in this together. And I’m scared, too. And also I want to share all this, so I can see that while my fear can be helpful, i.e., I don’t need to be foolish, it is also something to use- rather than be used by- to be of greater service to love. So that I don't get tired of being an example, even if only for myself.

Why? Because…. Because I’m alive. Because I have Henry. Because I’m a musician, too. Because the wind is blowing. Because the birds are singing. Because there are children playing. Because that man and me? We are the children and we are “leaning out for love, and we will lean that way forever.” And I am grateful to him for being my mirror.