Monday, October 17, 2011

31 days || seventeen: music.

"After silence, that which comes nearest to expressing the inexpressible is music." 
Aldous Huxley 


You know that game, "Would You Rather?" The game that's pulled out at dinner parties or in small group Bible studies to break the ice and make everybody like each other?

Would you rather give up television or music for the rest of your life? 

That's the question that was given to me a few weeks ago, and my answer surprised me. Without hesitation, I said television. 

Despite my love for Gilmore Girls or Leslie Knope or Jim and Pam or the gang at Cheers, I just don't think I could do without music. 

And I'm not a musically-obsessed person. I don't know the latest groups or regularly attend shows or have any rhythm or a very good voice. My tastes vary, and yes, I'm just as likely to be listening to Justin Bieber as I am to She & Him. (To be fair, I only know one Bieber song. And it's great for housekeeping purposes.)

But I can't really imagine a life without music and lyrics and Christmas carols and powerful old hymns and dance parties in the living room. I just can't. 

A couple of weeks ago, Jordan and I made the trip up to Birmingham to hear The Civil Wars perform at the old Alabama Theatre. (My grandma once told me she had a date or two there, and I've loved it ever since.)

Our seats were so high in the balcony, I thought for sure my head would start spinning, but then the music started, and it didn't matter. 

Just like when Mumford & Sons took my breath away at Jazz Fest, Joy Williams and John Paul White came onto stage, and it felt like I didn't move for the next hour and a half. Their harmonies were impeccable, their voices blending and moving effortlessly across the sold-out crowd. 

And I realized, in that moment, why my gut reaction had told me -- in the event I ever have to make the choice -- to stick with music.

It goes past the notes and the words and the chords and the instrument and the artist and the 11 years I spent slaving away in front of a piano. It really is about how it all makes you feel. My mood is dependent, for better or worse, on what I'm listening to at any given moment. I just like to breathe it all in, whether I'm attending a live concert or jamming to the radio in my car or listening to Jordan's fingers fly over the keys. 

Like books, music has the power to carry me away and to bring me back. And I love that. 

I don't think I could make it through these 31 days without acknowledging the huge role music plays in celebration, in both the over-the-top parties and quiet moments of meditation. Music, for whatever reason, stirs our souls. It resurrects the past, brings meaning to the present, empowers the imagination. As Huxley said, it expresses the inexpressible.

Music wakes us up to the life that surrounds us, the life that was, and the life that can be.

This fall, before the onslaught of Christmas music begins, I've got a few songs on repeat, songs that are reminding me to celebrate, to say thank you, to rejoice in the now. I wanted to share them with you:

1. "Shake It Out," Florence + the Machine
2. "Losers," The Belle Brigade
3."My Father's Father," The Civil Wars
4."Up Up Up," Givers
5. "Alas I Cannot Swim," Laura Marling
6. "Charmed Life," Joy Williams
7. "Tokyo," Imagine Dragons
8. "Come Thou Fount," Sufjan Stevens
9. "Free My Mind," Katie Herzig
10. "Old Joy," Noah and the Whale
11. "Whole Wide World," Mindy Gledhill
12. "Little Bit of Everything," Dawes


I'd like to give the gift of celebratory music to one of you. Comment below, and I'll send a CD out to one of you. 
Make sure to tell me what music you're listening to right now!


Anonymous said...

Music can take you away and bring you back. Whenever I hear the theme to "The Mary Tylor Moore" show I go back to a time of black and white television and an independent young woman throwing her hat in the air. I think of all the people in my life at that time and remember a simplier time. I hear the song, "How Great is Our God" and it reminds me of how wonderful the Creator is. I also listen to a Sugarland and enjoy thinking about seeing them in concert.

Staley Mc said...

I love Civil Wars, they have sang at Samford a few times and blow me away everytime. I'm with you, I don't think I could do without music and can't imagine life without it!

Kari said...

We had "Come Thou Fount" on in the car yesterday. This time of year is particularly hard in our house, because Mike wants to listen to the same 20 Counting Crows songs over and over (showing our age) and I am SO SICK of them.

I have been listening to Mumford & Sons and Josh Ritter, mostly.

Lauren said...

Ah, I'm soooo glad you got to see The Civil Wars live! I am going this Saturday to see them in concert, and I cannot wait!! It'll be my second time seeing them :)

I'm kind of like you in my music tastes - I am currently listening to anything from classical music in the morning to Jay-Z in the afternoon, to MuteMath (who's new album just came out and it's awesome) during the workday. If it has a good beat, melody, or tone, I am listening to it :).

mary kate said...

the civil wars are playing near me next week and I'm so bummed I cant make it because no one wants to go with me. lately I've been listening to a lot of the civil wars, that shake it out song by florence and the machine and the avett brothers.

Sabrina said...

I love this post, because as you probably know my Friday Tunes section of my blog is a new venture in sharing my musical tastes. I think we are on different musical winning a CD would be good for me to branch out. At work I get my old school Michael Bolton mix. At the gym Maroon 5 and LMFAO. Cleaning to Christmas music gets me focused. Favorite song currently Cee Lo Green & Melanie Fiona Fool for You.

emilyschubert said...

This whole post is so crazy wonderful.

1. Right now, I'm taking a break from writing an essay on if religion is expressible in language. So I'm reading all about trying to express the inexpressible, and I see that amazing quote from Huxley and realize that I haven't even considered music for my paper.

2. I love love LOVE the Civil Wars. And Mumford and Sons, and Noah and the Whale (my boyfriend and I actually prepared a guitar/violin duet for their song "Five Years Time" for our school's open mic night). Really, I just love music.

Have you heard of Danger & the Steel Cut Oats and The Features? If not, I suggest their songs "Call Us Home" and "The Idea of Growing Old", respectively. (oh gosh, academic tone sneaking into blog comments...) Manchester Orchestra is also a recent favorite of mine. The Avett Brothers are also super fantastic :)

Cindy P said...

Oh I love music. I am basically constantly listening to music. It would definitely be the one thing I could never give up. And I suppose music is in my blood. I was a music major in college after all and I've got my B.A. in it! =)

Anyway, I am literally currently listening to Jes on my iPod, she's an electronic artist but then again my iPod is also currently on shuffle. (I have it playing all day long at work.) It's so hard for me to pick a currently listening to thing though because of loving so many different genres and always listening on shuffle. I will say though that David Crowder Band is high up there on my listen to a lot list. Though I really enjoy more "indie" type stuff, too. Hmm... so hard to choose!

monster cakes said...

Oh I would without a doubt choose music over TV. And I recently discovered Andrew Belle and Lanterns on the Lake. Love them both. Thanks for the music suggestion. I know I'll always love your mixes!

ps. Sufjan Stevens rocks my world. : )

Mo Pie, Please said...

I totally agree with you - I LOVE tv but music has shaped my life, it's definitely made me who I am. I've been listening to Beirut, Bon Iver, Fleet Foxes, Blitzen Trapper, etc., non stop lately. And at work I'm hearing a lot of Adele and it's so lovely. I'm very into your choices too!

Christianna said...

I love music! I live and breathe music. Heck I even write music, or at least about music! I sometimes feel like it's GOD's little gift to me and people like me! Thanks for this post!

ashleycartwright said...

Not much of a music person, just like the background noise when I'm driving. But, finding great joy in listening to my girls sing along with the radio....when a song comes on the radio that they know, we turn it up loud and sing our hearts out!!

Megan Elizabeth said...

i would have said music too! it's odd that i don't play any music but i couldn't imagine life without some good tunes :)
currently, and thanks to you, the civil wars are on the top on my itunes. followed by jacks mannequin, the oldies and the newbies. we just saw them last night for the third time. love them. thanks for the new play list :)

Cindy said...

Thanks for your song list - I'm always looking out for something new and interesting to become my favorite song of the week :) I've been listening to The Vitamin String Quartet lately, loving their versions of Coldplay songs.

TefMarie said...

A few things:

I love the Alabama Theater! Saw Guster and Ray LaMontagne there one time on my way back from Montgomery to Memphis. I almost got tickets to that Civil Wars show, and so envious you got to go!

I love music more than TV. no doubt.

Your playlist is awesome and eclectic, those are some fun songs.

I'm listening to Ben Rector alot lately. And the new Mat Kearney and Needtobreathe.

Jessica said...

Oooh, ooooh...I could use some new music! I've been listening to hannah's hundred lots lately to learn scripture to sing to Amos. I could use some diversity!

chet said...

download my fall mixtape!