music

I will never grow so old again

Listening to Van Morrison’s Astral Weeks is exactly like living in the most painful, beautiful dream you’ve ever had. Very James Joyce. Very makes me want to dance down the metro aisles and also lay down in the middle of the road and cry and also jump into some sea, any sea, and run down an empty street with a lover or with a friend or alone, laughing until the end of time.

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Kildare, Ireland 2016

“Sweet Thing” means something different every year, but has been an especially prominent song in my life lately and often played on repeat (sorry not sorry, neighbor). It’s like being a child again. It’s like falling in love with life, with yourself, with someone new after two-million heavy nights. Like getting younger every year. Like looking at the same old world you’ve always lived in and seeing it for the first time again. Like not looking for answers, “being satisfied not to read in between the lines.” Like surrendering to a gorgeous madness. “Hey, it’s me, I’m dynamite and I don’t know why.”

From 1968 with love,

Seo

 

Mysteries of the Mind, Part 2

Last week I saw In The Same Boat, a documentary about how technology and job automation have led to monstrous wealth inequality and how one might confront the problem moving forward. It was followed by an open forum debate with Rudy Gnutti (the director), Yayo Herrero (premier eco-feminist), Jorge Moruno (Podemos representative and “lover of gnocchi”), and Iñigo Errejón (Podemos’ poster-baby and serial gesticulator). I was interested in the subject matter, but it would be dishonest of me to say that my facetious goal of dancing a chotis with Errejón didn’t have just a little bit to do with my decision to buy tickets. At the time of writing that goal remains unrealized, but I can tell you that in person Errejón looks younger than most of my middle-school students. I can also tell you that, after telling said students about the documentary, a few of them informed me that if I was a Podemista, I should leave class. Others warned me that my “pants were turning purple” and one incredulous girl asked “so, what, you think everyone should have jobs?” More on this later. Or never.

Getting ready for bed I thought mostly about how I should study economy and take a public speaking class. I also thought about the Amazon executive from the documentary, whose interview included a really amusing line in which he talked about how truly awful he really felt about getting on his private jet after seeing poverty in the streets! Finally, head on my pillow, eyes closed, my thoughts drifted not to neo-liberalism nor to Spain’s new political party, but to… Nino friggin’ Bravo, Spanish crooner and eyebrow idol.

Musical insomnia, again.

What was the song this time? “Un Beso y Una Flor.”

And the lines that wouldn’t leave my mind?

De día viviré pensando en tus sonrisas
De noche las estrellas me acompañarán

A beautiful, romantic goodbye song.

Why? And for what?

Y’all didn’t think I was about to analyze economics, did you?

Mysteries of the Mind

On Friday night, St. Patrick’s day, I slept a grand total of 1 hour and 30 minutes, not because of excessive Guinness consumption–I had one pint (to keep my passport)–but because I could not get these lines out of my head:

Ya sé todo lo que va a pasar
Lo sé desde que te vi llegar

Fifteen words. Sung. Incessantly. For hours. I tossed, I turned, I tried to think of other things–relaxing things, like the smell of soda bread and the two times I walked around Père Lachaise. It was all to no avail.

An hour prior, Emgirl and I had parked our bicycles under the arc leading to Teatro Romea and sung “Danny Boy.”  An Irish tune might have made sense, but alas… My brain decided to stall on Spanish rock.

It’s still a good song.

These lines are just “neurologically irresistible” and also a very large pain in my very tired ass.

 

Here’s the thing about today.

In September on the subway in Astoria I was reading Musicophilia by Oliver Sacks while a barber shop quartet sang “Stand by Me.” Oli delivered a dim prognosis re: our future ear health. Deafness and hearing loss will increase exponentially, he hypothesized. The human head is not accustomed nor adapted to being plugged with high-decibel rock music and Bieber-bops. Over time, our love of music could destroy our mega-important, mega-irreplaceable cilia.

So I started listening to music at more respectable levels. Because of Oli and also because I began imagining the members of KISS, tongues out and leather on, swinging from my cilia every time I ignored a volume warning.

But the thing about today is that I didn’t feel like having my metro-mates’ nasty, mucous-laden coughs as a backdrop to the musical I was making up in my head.

So I let Thin Lizzy drown out strangers’ February flus and I thought of how I’d choreograph the whole song on Line 5 and I looked down at my coat, still stained with churro chocolate, and I thought ears be damned.

How is Madrid, you ask?

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Madriz is a gorgeous place full of gorgeous people who don’t know my name. I go on long walks here, as I have done for a thousand lifetimes and will do for a thousand more. There are rose gardens and a suicide bridge and clouds the likes of which I haven’t lived under for some time. What a wonderful place to fall in love. The singer-songwriter on the metro requested no videos, please.

“You know, a flower is so beautiful to look at. But when you pick it, it becomes a thing and it dies. I don’t want to be a thing.”

Gracias, compadres. He retrieved a bottle of honey from his bag and took a swig.

The metro at 10 PM on a Tuesday is a tired place to decompress, an unlikely place to chuckle with a man who has honey in his throat.

Yes, it is Tuesday night. Yes, I am writing about the metro again. Yes, I am still young and Irish enough to revel in the absurd, to feel human and happy in a big metal tube.

And I hope you are, too.

Good night and good travels,

Seo