Friday, October 17, 2008

and I'm recording our history now on the bedroom wall

Oh Ani. Long before I knew your music I knew who you were. You’re a strong feminist, a crazy guitar player, owner of a small record label, and a chick with some crazy hair. I only had heard the song “Both Hands” when I saw Regina Spektor was playing at the Mann Center and you were the main act. Although I knew little about your music, Regina was a must see act for me, so I went along for the ride. Once I had heard Regina’s set I could have left happy. Her cute dress, insane piano skills, interesting noises and fun blue guitar had me satisfied.

The crowd was quiet, but perhaps a little restless. When Ani came on I knew why- a bunch of insane women screaming so loud that I simply not hear had somehow appeared out of the mild mannered crowd before intermission. A set filled with guitars, a cute androgynous drummer, a bassist and a… well, random percussionist were on the stage but every eye was on the minuscule woman beating the hell out of a guitar and singing her lungs out. In the song ‘You Had Time’, when her lover asks her if she played well she says “My fingers are sore and my voice is too.” It’s easy to see where these lyrics come from, for she growls out her lyrics, screams against the patriarchy in the US, and plays guitars that are bigger than her 5' 2" frame.

She’s an excellent performer and if she could have sung more about her opinions and said less, and if could have stood her drunk insane fans I’m sure I would immediately have become one of her largest fans. However, after the concert it took me a long time to get into her. I slowly eased in with ’32 Flavors’, her most famous song, and I cannot stop listening to ‘Two Little Girls’. I love the style of her older work for her new stuff is incredibly glossy compared to the extremely raw sound of songs like ‘Untouchable Face’. Artists grow as they age and since Ani has her own record label she can produce her music however she wants to. So, I’ll be the feminist college girl cliché and jump on the Difranco bandwagon with pride.

and I'm beyond your peripheral vision
so you might want to turn your head
cause someday you're going to get hungry
and eat most of the words you just said. -32 Flavors

Some days the line I walk
Turns out to be straight
Other days the line tends to deviate
I've got no criteria for sex or race
I just want to hear your voice
I just want to see your face –In or Out

So I guess I’ll just stand here with my back against the wall

while you distilled your whole life down to a 911 call –Two Little Girls

So I’m beginning to see some problems

with the on going work of my mind
and I’ve got myself a new mantra
it says: "don't forget to have a good time" –Present/Infant

You are a china shop, and I am a bull

you are really good food, and I am full –You Had Time

but you don't really care for music

do ya?

Putting on a good pair of headphones can change a song forever. A song can be beautiful live, usually due to the amazing experience of seeing the artist actually perform the song. During a car ride, a tune can transform your trip. Over laptop speakers beautiful lyrics can be heard loud and clear.

But headphones, big headphones, life changing headphones make music more than noise entering your ears to be processed by your brain. At a concert, on your computer, in the car, generally whenever music is a part of an experience there is not the same feeling as when music is the experience itself. Place them over your ears and nothing else in the world matters but hearing the smoothness of a new production or that rough hard acoustic sound where you hear the pounding of fingers on strings, the reverberation of the bass drum. I’m far from a musical expert but even I can hear the most subtle tones with my headphones tightly pressed to my ears.

As someone that does not follow any form of religion, or even consider myself a ‘spiritual’ person I still cannot deny that sometimes music makes me feel otherworldly. I cannot pray. I simply do not know how to communicate with anything that I cannot see. The song Hallelujah, originally by Leonard Cohen is as near to prayer as I can get. Some prefer Jeff Buckley’s gorgeous, yet sadly overused, raw voice over a guitar. Others love the original, mostly due to the fact that it is the first version. Rufus Wainwright’s ethereal voice compliments how beautifully his hands fly over the piano. Whether over produced or poorly recorded, these are the versions we know best. The song has become trite to some due to overexposure.However, other singers tend to perform it randomly during live sets. Those lucky enough to hear Damien Rice and Lisa Hannigan’s harmonies or Regina Spektor’s raw cries surely understand that this song is not just music. It’s a cry for a lover to hear the music of the heart. It’s reaching out for the trust of the listener. It references Samson’s story in order to show how a man can break. It is a scream of loneliness in the darkness of losing the one that you hold dear.

Focusing solely on a lyrically and musically profound song can alter you. Listening to Hallelujah with my head hugged by my earphones is about as close to a religious experience that I could ever imagine.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

so we're speeding towards that time of year

To the day that marks that you're not here.

I never imagined we'd lose one of us. Our group was strong. We were smart. We played hard and loved harder. Through the gossip, the betrayals, and the bitter fights there was a string pulling us close, sewing our hearts together, insuring our fates would be entwined. Walking into each others houses without knocking, long bike rides, a lot of laughter and quite a few tears.

How could a piece of our handpicked family ever go missing?
How could we survive without the one person who stayed mostly neutral?
How could we possibly make videos of our adventures without the girl who was attached to her camera?
Would we ever again fill up couches with way too many girls, eat far too much junk food, and watch The Goonies?

Listening to LFO or Kanye didn't seem right. Stepping near a tennis court would only invoke pain. Kicking around a soccer ball, hopping on a bike, even looking at a skateboard is like a dagger to the heart.

Once we had to do a project together where we had to find and pin down insects. Neither of us could agree on when to do the project, which caused a small fight. Of course the conflict was resolved quickly, she never stayed angry long. She never stayed anywhere long- as amazing as she was she'd never be pinned down, there was no box that could hold her exuberance.

I miss her every day, and I know nothing will change that. I miss her sense of adventure and her inventive ideas. It's painful every time that I reach for my phone to call her to tell her a story I know she'd love. But I know that missing her means that she is forever a part of me. I'll always love her. We'll all always love her. And that string that keeps us all together, it keeps her with us always.

and the words still ring,
once here now gone
and they echo through my head everyday
and I don't think they'll ever go away
just like thinking of your childhood home
but we cant go back we're on our own
oh, but i'm about to give this one more shot
and find it in myself

i'll find it in myself