A Musical Interlude
We took the dog to the beach on July 4th. With the sound of the ocean roaring in our ears, the salt tang of the sea water floating on the air and the endless blue in every direction, it was easy to feel as though we were floating off the edge of the world toward a new and distant horizon. I often think about the celestial music of the spheres when I’m sitting wave gazing; the sounds so refined and beautiful that our human ears cannot detect them. Sitting by the water, at the edge of clear blue open space, one feels closer to these sounds somehow.
My world is full of music these days it seems. Lately I’ve been listening to World Gone Wrong, Bob Dylan’s second consecutive album of traditional folk songs, usually in the car. I’ve found myself humming the tunes with itchy fingers but as my guitar is finally enjoying some much needed repairs I’m making do with singing the songs for now. I tracked down the folio for the album which arrived early a few days ago, much to my delight. I have sorely missed Dylan’s liner notes entitled ‘About the Songs (what they’re about)’. To be able to read them once more was like taking tea with a wise and dear friend. They are an extraordinary piece of writing. If you want to listen to this album at its true pitch I’d recommend finding a copy of them.
I took the folio to my singing lesson last week. We played around with arrangements for Love Henry and Delia and I was moved almost to tears. Working with these traditional songs suddenly seemed important; the perfect antidote to our age of the ‘hyper-present’ as one commentator I follow put it recently. My teacher pointed out the skill with which Dylan sings on this album; his vocals allow the songs to fly effortlessly. When you study the rhythm of Delia, for example, it’s really extremely tricky. I was struck afresh by how much there is to learn and how much joy this exercise brings. My daughter has been coming along with me to lessons these past couple of weeks as she’s on her summer break from school. Her confidence has been slowly and shyly growing to the point where she can now sing a song with my teacher accompanying her. Wonderful to see!
We spent a lovely evening at Amoeba Music this past Tuesday. I’d spotted somewhere that there was going to be a launch party for the Echo in the Canyon soundtrack CD with Jakob Dylan, Jade Castrinos and the band playing and signing CDs afterwards. The store is somewhat of a local landmark. Occupying a large corner spot on Sunset and Ivar it covers two floors and houses a huge collection of vinyl, CDs, movies and memorabilia. It’s set to move down the road a few blocks soon and there are some murmurings about its future. We waited in front of the stage amidst the CD racks with a relaxed and friendly crowd. When Dylan and the band came on they played a short, loud and uproariously joyful set, chatting intermittently with the audience. It was an intimate and very Los Angeles scene as was the small signing event which followed. I drove home afterwards in quiet happiness amidst the late evening lavender light hearing those echoes from the canyon in the air all around me.