Geometry of Circles

January 7, 2008

I admire the music of Phillip Glass a whole lot, and I was really privileged to see him perform live recently. His music is deliciously strange, alien, and it transports me. I am much more familiar with his film work. This piece, however, is one he created for Sesame Street in the 1979. It’s just a little taste of Glass.


Human Tetris

January 6, 2008

This video is a lot of fun. It reminds of my summer days during high school that I wasted away playing my Game Boy. I got so addicted to Tetris at one point that I would try to arrange everything in my head as if the world was a huge tetris board…. furniture, clothes, groceries… I knew I had to put an end to it when it came to that point.

The Best Music of 2007

January 5, 2008

Header Settlement 

2007, Settlement 

This is a collection of songs that were important to me in ’07. They were not necessarily released this year (actually, the majority of them were not), but they reached me just now. 

This Person. I first heard this on PRI’s Studio 360 podcast, a show I listen to weekly. Miranda July’s reading of her own short story is haunting, funny, poignant and whimsical. There is a real dread and uncertainty that draws me to it. To me, it has the texture of depression woven into it, which makes it really interesting.
From PRI’s Studio 360 

With My Own Eyes . This is from ‘Atonement’, a movie that I know now I liked more that I thought at first. I love this piece. It is inventive and smart. Haunting… as in the movie, it expresses the machinations of the mind and all that imagination is capable of. Both wonderful and terrible things.
From Atonement (Music from the Motion Picture) 

Marry Me a Little . What a beautiful song. It’s a love song about settling, about an adult relationship – full of caution, compromise, grounded idealism – and about longing for an easy relationship. But easy relationships don’t really exist (especially not if they are valuable). They only roam in our heads so we can compare them what we really have. The desire to always achieve that perfection is what keeps our relationships sane.
From Company (2006 Broadway Revival Cast) 

Baby Don’t You Cry (The Pie Song) . This is from the movie ‘Waitress’, one of my favorites this year. It is what it is, a simple, sweet lullaby. It makes me feel warm and happy, so it accomplishes all of its goals.
From Waitress (Music from the Motion Picture) 

Stay With Me . This is the torch song to end all torch songs. Here pain and yearning are palpable. The passion in her voice makes me cry. This is about loving someone beyond sanity and pride. Not really healthy, but I think there’s a side in all of us that desires that no holds barred, head over heels love. A love that burns deep and takes full control.
From Beg, Scream & Shout!: The Best of ‘60s Soul, Vol. 2 

Wake Up Alone. This song is so painful to hear. My heart goes empty every time I do. The lyrics are so honest. This takes me back to a specific time in my life when the uncontrollable, unbearable longing for someone who is no longer there, sometimes physically others emotionally, took over. Amy Winehouse was an artist I discovered before she exploded in the US scene and I’m glad I did. Listening to her CD for the first time was one of the exciting moments of the year. Her music is beautiful and it speaks loudly to me. From Amy Winehouse’s Back to Black 

Bonny Portmore (Live). I had the opportunity to see Loreena McKennitt perform live this year and it was a truly magical experience. Hers is the closest music has come to prayer. It is spiritual and enlightened, and it puts me in a very good place. It relaxes me and disarms me emotionally.
From Loreena McKennitt’s Nights from the Alhambra(Live) 

Bicho do Mato (Wild Animal) . This is a song I came across by accident on Pandora and it reflected a very particular feeling. The song is about the want and need to be alone (alone but not lonely, as it states). The need to disconnect from the world, friends, work, the loved one. I feel this need constantly. It serves as a moment to get centered, reboot the system. The chorus goes “You won’t understand, you’ll question me. But that’s all. Today I just want to be alone”
From Fernanda Porto’s Giramundo 

Like a Star . So sweet, poignant and honest. A simple song with a lot to say. My heart melts when Corrine Bailey Rae sings.
From Corrine Bailey Rae’s Live in New York 

Speak Low. Sexy, sexy, sexy. That is the first impression I got from this. Not sexy in a twentysomething, show-your-body-at-the-club way, but in a more worldly and timeless way, which I definitely connect with more these days. Billie’s vocals are beautiful as usual, but what really shines here are the composition and musicians – the music is sinuous, complex and relaxed… a perfect tease.
From Billie Holiday’s All or Nothing at All 

In a Sentimental Mood . This is the soundtrack to falling in love. I played it a lot in January and February. I’ve always enjoyed listening to jazz. His year I listened to Coltrane more than I did anyone else. Jazz is the music of city life. All of the urban chaos and solitude are contained in jazz. Cheers to that. I guess ‘In a Sentimental Mood’ is already considered one of the most romantic songs of all time, but I’ll go ahead and endorse that view.
From John Coltrane’s Coltrane for Lovers 

Pour Que L’Amour me Quitte (Why Does Love Leave Me) . I discovered Camille this year and I love her voice and music. This is like a sad, defeated lullaby. She repeatedly asks herself “Why does love always leave me?” This is a song that takes me back to every failed relationship and how those failures contribute to my make up so much.
From Camille’s Le Fil 

Love is a Losing Game . Such sadness and disillusion. With beautiful words and a beat the cuts through my heart, this is a great companion to ‘Pour Que L’Amour Me Quitte’. Love never stays. You’re bound to lose it.
From Amy Winehouse’s Back to Black 

Up to the Mountain (MLK Song) . Beautiful gospel music. This song is comfort on hard days. It encloses you in hope. It is about revelation, awareness, transcendence. It’s about staying awake amidst chaos and despair. Here’s hoping the world becomes a better place soon.
From Patti Griffin’s Children Running Through 

Poema do Menino Jesus (Poem of the Boy Jesus). This poem has followed me for a long time, I just couldn’t seem to find a recorded version of it. It is here for two reasons. The first is Maria Bethania. She has the power to speak directly to my heart. Each word of hers melts and rebuilds me all at once. The second is that this Fernando Pessoa (via Alberto Caeiro) poem is about what religion should be – personal and unique – and in a year I’ve been so conflicted about the role of religion in society, it is only fitting to have it here. 
From Maria Bethania’s Maricotinha Ao Vivo 

Hope There’s Someone . Where to start with this one… I first heard Antony on Bjork’s Volta record. His voice grabbed my attention immediately and lingered in my head for a while. I then started listening to his own album, I Am a Bird Now, and became immersed in it. His music is unique because it makes me depressed and gives me hope at the same time. This particular song is so haunting and real, that’s why it’s included here. It’s made me cry and I hold it very close to my heart. I can’t help but imagine a funeral taking place when I listen to it (the song is about death). Antony’s voice is something else… it seems to contain all emotions at once.
From Antony & The Johnson’s I Am a Bird Now 

Mother . It gets me in my gut, from the drum thump in the beginning to Christina’s desperate mantra in the end. Although I put it here mainly for the visceral feeling it provokes in me, I guess I also relate in a more subconscious way to the lyrics. When I first started listening to it, I reflected on my parents’ divorce early in my adolescence.
From Instant Karma: The Amnesty International Campaign to Save Darfur   

Mande um Email pra Mim (Send Me an Email) . Makes me think of the ones I miss that are far away… It also confirms my suspicion that I’m lousy at keeping in touch with people, and for that I’m deeply sorry.
From Carlinhos Brown’s A Gente Ainda Nao Sonhou 

(There is) No Greater Love. It makes me think of my love. Great love, great companion, thrilling and romantic. This song truly captures the essence of being in love and the idyllic feeling of falling in love.
From Amy Winehouse’s Frank 

Being Alive . From ‘Company’, this song speaks on a very personal level to me. Relationships can be so difficult. This is about the fear of giving yourself in to someone else, of having your life changed by that person. Most of all, about the fear of allowing that person in and having the uncertainty of whether that person will still be there tomorrow.
From Company (2006 Broadway Revival Cast) 

Paddy’s Gone. Antony & The Johnsons again. This is the song they contributed to the Songs for FINCA project. I feel it is a lament, beautiful and full of longing. It makes me think of the life I left behind and of all that was discontinued with it. His voice… His voice is so full of pain here.
From Big Change: Songs for FINCA 

Non, Je Ne Regrette Rien . Wow, what a song. Something to live by – no regrets. Piaf is full of passion. Her fervor is contagious. No Regrets – a great mantra for 2008.
From La Vie En Rose (Soundtrack from the Motion Picture) 

Happiness . This is also a piece from Studio 360. It asks a question that is asked by everyone and that I question myself. It is presented in a simple, beautiful manner, with a scientific but at the same time poetic quality, which I like. It also talks about ‘carpe diem’, which is also something I believe in and try to practice.
From PRI’s Studio 360 

Ac-cen-t-chu-ate the Positive . ‘You’ve got to accentuate the positive, eliminate the negative, latch on to the affirmative. Don’t mess with Mr.-in-between. – Great lesson. I’m going to try this in ’08.
From The Andrews Sisters’ 20th Century Masters – Millennium Collection: The Best of the Andrews Sisters 

Caravanserai (Live). Another Loreena cut. This is here because of the concert, and I could have picked any other from it. This one was chosen because I heard it first on the concert and I hummed it all the way home. Her music is so rich and sensual. It makes me think of Biodance and fire and earth dancing together.
From Loreena McKennitt’s Nights from the Alhambra(Live) 

Penny on the Train Track . A great song about transitioning from boyhood to being an adult. The song is a journey from care-free summer days to the more grounded ideology of adulthood. It also talks about the randomness of life and acknowledges how small each of us is in the grandness of things. Makes you question how much in control we really are.
From Ben Kweller’s Ben Kweller 

Loved You Right Away . This is about the ecstasy of love. It is about the power love has to make your life seem flawless. Love can be quick to happen and change one’s life permanently. I loved this song right away and included it on the list after just one listen. More modern songs should be about the joy of being in love instead of its heartache.
From Carlinhos Brown’s A Gente Ainda Nao Sonhou 

Lose Myself . I listened to this by accident and I liked it immediately. The lyrics are so honest and emotional. ‘I had to lose myself so I could love you better. Lose myself in love’. This can be interpreted in so many ways, both positively and negatively. It makes me think of decisions we often times have to make: how much of ourselves should we compromise in order to love someone? What results of it?
From Surf’s Up (Music from the Motion Picture) 

LDN . Breezy, sunny, clear skies stroll through the city. This song is uncompromising fun. It reminds me of one of my favorite weekly activities – taking Bela for a walk on a sunny spring weekend day, with no time to return.
From Lily Allen’s Alright, Still 

Au Port (Stuck in a Harbor) . Imagination and originality. A good song to listen to while walking down the streets of New York… something original and unpredictable. It is very avant guarde but at the same time it has classical, old-fashioned elements, like the horns, which I really like and describes my taste in things.
From Camille’s Le Fil 

Your Mangled Heart . Fire, passion, fury. This is a get-out-of-my-way-or-get-run-over anthem that I use when I need to wake up or get smart. It’s a fight song as raw and uncompromising as they come. ‘I don’t want the world, I only want what I deserve’ makes for a great chant. I came to love ‘The Gossip’ and Beth Ditto’s vocals here are on fire. Try dancing to this, it’s a great feeling.
From The Gossip’s Standing In The Way of Control 

Downpressor Man . This is a fighting song. The attitude and ideology are just right. It is very personal, yet very political. It reflects today’s political landscape. It is a big kiss-off to the politics of fear. I particularly like this version of the song. It is from an album I acquired when it came out about 2 years ago that I rediscovered this year. I like listening to it a lot. It is relaxing because of its reggae climate, but also smart and defiant.
From Sinead O’Connor’s Throw Down Your Arms 

Hard Candy Christmas. I’m often melancholy around Christmas time. It is a time to be around family and I don’t have my whole family around me. This song captures that dread and difficulty of the holidays. I know it’s corny and melodramatic, but it works for me in every level. It is also about moving on, keeping on, which is a sentiment we have to summon every now and then to survive. Plus I always seize the opportunity to add Dolly Parton to my compilations.
From The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas (Music from the Original Motion Picture Soundtrack) 

Cri Du Coeur . I’ve always liked Edith Piaf but I didn’t knew much about her nor her music. Thanks to the great film ‘La Vie en Rose’ I was able to get into her more. I am so glad I did. Piaf’s music transports me. This particular cut is so care-free, sunny… simply put, romantic, which you don’t find a lot these days. Note: This is the feeling I get from it intuitively. I do not know French, and I choose not to look at the translation of the lyrics to preserve that feeling.
From La Vie En Rose (Soundtrack from the Motion Picture) 

Sweet Nothins . This is the song that makes me think of my love and that’s why it’s here. I love the innocence but at the same time flirtatious nature of it. This was the year more than any other that I investigated a lot of music from the past. I discovered many amazing artists that now have become staples in my music listening habits.
From Brenda Lee’s The Definitive Collection: Brenda Lee 

A Night in Tunisia . This song marked a great happening in 2007 for me.
From Ella Fitzgerald’s For the Love of Ella Fitzgerald 

That Old Black Magic . Cool ,sexy, passionate love. They don’t make music like this anymore (now I sound like an old person).
From Ella Fitzgerald’s Sweet & Hot 

Too Close For Comfort . Sexy. A great seduction song. This is the mood I find ideal for a night out with my love and friends and a good glass of wine. Oh, and preferably cold weather.
From Dianne Reeve’s Good Night, and Good Luck (Music from and Inspired by the Motion Picture) 

Lullaby of Birdland . This is my feel-good song. The moment it comes on, life becomes warm and simple and perfect. It is also extremely romantic and playful, two things that are more welcome than ever in my life. I was torn between this version and Ella Fitzgerald’s. This one won out by its sheer joy This song’s melody is so classic. It makes me relax.
From Sarah Vaughan’s Compact Jazz: Sarah Vaughan