Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Winter Walking

Since the snow fell in the middle of last week, I have been sent to the grocery twice. It may seem like this is the beginning of a very shoddy story, but shoddines is what I do. My first trip was the morning after the snow hit, and none of the roads were cleared, and all the sidewalks and trees were still covered as well. The snow was very deep, and would apparently take the road cleaning crews a day to reasonably clear things. I bundled up with my scarf, and peacoat, and headed out into the morning with my new iPod (my x-mas present from my nugget). I looked around, and the sky had all cleared up, and everything was heavily blanketed in white. I saw only two people the entire time, one of which was walking his dog, and the other was struggling to clean their vehicle off. I flipped through my albums until I found Nick Drakes 'Family Tree', and hit play. Something very magical happened as I began walking towards Broadway and Halsted on Grace (or Waveland I forget) to the store. There were no cars out, it was sunny, and everything was beautifully snow covered. I think the stripped down simplicity of Nick's songs really fit the things I was seeing around me. His original finger picking technique, along with his hauntingly soft voice made the bare bones melodies perfect for my walk. There were a couple piano tunes slipped in there that were accompanied by a womans voice that I'm going to assume was Nick's mother, who was also a musician. It was just strange how well the music went with the environment. Everything seemed empty or hollow, and I don't mean that in a 'depressing way', but more like a 'new and unexplored land' kind of way. It was the light with the whiteness of the snow which made a normally bustling Chicago seem tame for a second. My second unique experience happened at night. Not everyone had cleared the sidewalks off yet, but the streets were cleared off. Andrea sent me to the store once again, and just like before, I threw on my coat, and grabbed my iPod and flipped through my albums and selected Andrew Birds 'Weather Systems'. It's the only A. Bird album that I'm not familiar with and felt obligated to give it a listen. Its sound began to meld with the environment just like the Nick Drake album. Only this time, it was a winter night thing. I was particularly drawn to the songs 'I' and 'Action Adventure' because they seemed to inadvertantly capture the aura of the cold and snowy sidewalks of my northside neighborhood. The city lights reflecting off the snow, the lack of people on the street, and the atmospheric and stringy A. Bird songs were the reasons for my vibe during my walk. I can't really explain because I don't have the vocabulary and I don't even know if words can do the vibe justice, but those two albums seem to be perfect soundtracks for winter. It just depends on which time of day you listen to them. Just like most of the music that I listen to, I can hear whichever song, and it takes me to a place in time. I'm sure these two albums will now remind me of walking amongst the brownstones on Chicago's snow covered side streets.


The Critic said...

i love it when moments like this happen. the summer i was introduced to the mountain goats, i was out west. the newest album, "full force galesburg" came out one day while i was in a record store in boulder. i didn't even know it was coming out, but i had my cdwalkman with me. i bought the cd, slapped it in and walked the town listening to it.

everything about that album matched where i was at for several months of that year, most especially the summer, and for me that album is all summer nights drinking and writing poetry on a manual typer out under the stars. and sliding underneath my old vw bug to tighten yet another loose part or replace ever more wires or gaskets. or smoking a doobie in the car on my way to my crap-tacular job doing what i don't even remember any more but it was seven of us at a table in one room punching ten keys all day. then later it was telemarketing calls to cardiologists.

i was coming off fucking up my life in many, many spectacular ways, was fucking it up more in a race to the limits of my fucked-uped-ness, and "full force galesburg" was my soundtrack for that straight dark shot down to the bottom of a lake.

conversely, it also worked well anthemically for the coming back up from the depths portion of this time in my life, so as a document of disaster and retribution, it fit things so very, very well.

The Critic said...

Weekend in Western Illinios
the sky's opening up like an old wound,
and the rain on our bodies is warm tonight
and the ground underneath us shakes in the cracking thunder.
we can taste fresh blood in our mouths again:
there is no chance of getting enough of it,
and we tally up all our possessions, we're going under.

maize stalk drinking blood

lying in the hot sun today
watching the clouds run away
thought a little while about you
the sky was a petrifying blue
and while the geese flew past
for no reason at all
i let the sky fall
this is an empty country, and i am the king
and i should not be allowed to touch anything

i picked myself up off the ground
shook the grass from my hair and i
walked around
felt the warm sun in my eye
strangers were passing by
i shinnied up the black walnut tree
let the hard blue sky fall right through me
and i saw the sad young cardinals, trying to sing
and i should not be allowed to touch anything

it's all here in brownsville
we looked at one another's bodies
figured we looked all right
ready to die if we had to
watching the skies all night

and i was sure my heart would break
when the sun sank down into california
i felt your breath on my neck, it was hot and good and pure
and i wanted to warn you

and it's all coming apart again
it's all coming apart again
it's all coming apart again
it's all coming apart again

The Keirnel said...

first, i am struck by the pure pleasure of reading about said moments of peace, calm, rightness of mind, body, spirit, etc. and the role music seems to play in elevating our sense of self beyond our mental and physical limitations.

secondly, i am struck by the way that these moments while not directly or immediately shared in the physical sense, are in fact shared through similarity of experience. it is reassuring and awesome (in the real sense of the word, not in the valley girl sense) to know that others are out there enjoying moments of a sort of a spiritual and musical high.

just today as i drove to work i was in one of those moments. as a jetted along in the mildly heavy honolulu traffic, window down and sun pouring into every crack and crevice of my faded dashboard, i found myself lost inside the unconscious peace of my own mind. i honestly don't remember what the songs were that were playing on the radio as i sang openly and outwardly to no one but myself, but i know that in those twelve minutes from home to work i was sublimely happy and separate even from myself. i remember looking straight up into the blue hawaii sky and thinking for one second how perfect the world can be. always, i think, "why can't i capture this moment, this feeling, and call on it whenever my world seems so gray, so dim, so incredibly without hope?" ...and as my mind left my body, was swept around by the cool trade winds swirling in one window and out the other, settling somewhere in the blinding distance, i was isolated, but in a good way. i wish i could find that balance, that peace and that mysterious sense of self in the world all of the time.

Related Posts with Thumbnails