Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Shuffleathon process

Yes, yes, I know that you all want to hear about Yosemite and the wonders of hiking in the moonlight, swimming in 19F weather, and dressing to the nines for a Bracebridge dinner. And, yes, I know that you want pictures, but you're going to have to be patient. I just got back a couple of hours ago and I haven't had time to unpack. And, sadly, the pictures may be lost as something malfunctioned in SS' camera as we were snow-tubing up at Badger Pass yesterday. I did write this post before we left, though, so here you have it...entertain yourselves (and no leaving mean comments over at Ben's place - he's entitled to his opinion).


The process of doing a Shuffleathon is always an interesting one for me. I was never one for putting together compilations in the past. And, in these days of CD burning at the drop of a hat, I still don’t have a computer capable of burning one (or even playing one now that the CD player no longer opens). But I enjoy the process, even if I’m lazy at getting it done (or in reviewing the CD that was sent to me – which I swear I will do soon).

This time around, I felt that I had put together a CD not only that I really enjoy listening to but that has a lot of personal meaning in the flow of the songs, as well. I lovingly mailed off my selection to Ben knowing that most of the music in it would not match his tastes in the least. His review was an affirmation of that. I truly am glad he liked a song or two though. Not such a bad thing.

The CD this time around was made up of all women artists (well, some of the back-up was probably male, but the singers were all women). WritingInAK will recognize many of the songs and the artists as ones she’s introduced me to and, as such, they represent, musically, a time in my life when she and I actually lived in the same state. It was also a time when I was exploring all things woman, my budding romantic interest in them included. But there are also parts of them that have carried over into a middle-aged, punk-rock-hearted girl who now rocks out to Green Day and System of a Down.

So on to the compilation:

1. Grey Girl by Rebecca Riots
The true thread in this compilation is about discovery of myself and coming to learn to love myself and others, in the process. It’s an on-going process, and it starts again almost every day with recognizing that part of me which doesn’t feel loveable: my own addicted, grey-skinned girl.

2. Silent all these Years by Tori Amos
This title sort of sums it up. I’m often silent and not really forthcoming about my feelings. This frustrates friends of mine sometimes. HippyChick has commented that with the starting of my blog, I really started to open up. It’s just so much easier to speak this way. On another note, years ago when Tori was just breaking with this recording, I was in the midst of my first major depressive episode. I would listen to this album obsessively while playing some computer game as a way to avoid my feelings. Horribly ironic.

3. Iowa (Traveling III) by Dar Williams
Not only is this a great song to wail along with, it is so completely evocative not only of the hills of Iowa, but of the way in which midwesterners (my family and myself, included) often approach passionate feelings. Dar sings, “Way back where I come from/ We never mean to bother/We don’t like to make our passions other people’s concern.” Not, even, sometimes, those people who we feel those passionate feelings about. I really want to launch into stories about driving the hills of Iowa or standing in a cemetary looking over them, but I’ll spare you all.

4. Keeper of the Flame by Nina Simone
Not only is Nina Simone an awesome pianist (Juliard trained), but her voice can just suck you into a song. This song was about recognizing that there was a flame within me. Not, perhaps, terribly revelatory, but that other’s might recognize it and appreciate it is. It is an amazing thing to have a partner (or other’s in your life) openly appreciate your sexual passion, and something that most of you know I was late coming to in life. This is about the flame in me and growing comfortable with it.

5. Touch Me Fall by the Indigo Girls
This song is about me opening it up to others. Ben’s critique of this song does ring true to me at times, but the feeling that is evoked at the beginning is so incredibly sensual to me. It’s all about memories of one particular summer living in DC that was hot and humid…sort of like good sex.

6. Power of the Harden-Bratt by Ulali
This song would have been a hard-sell to most anyone who has not been to and loved a good pow-wow. The first pow-wow I was at, I was transported by the drums and the sound of the singing. Put the music together with the traditional and fancy dancers in a circle where certain traditions are honored and it is a work of art – long before the fry bread is served. I fully recognize that I am a cultural tourist at such events, but OMG! if it helps to open my awareness to the lives of other people, I’ll swallow my white guilt.

But none of this really says anything about the place of this song in this compilation. Well, the song itself is about a man, “Hot Stuff!” as one of the women shouts toward the end. It’s about recognizing the incredible power of another person’s sexuality and passion as they put it into the world. It’s about celebrating that.

7. Everyday Boy by Joan Armatrading
This song represents the giving up of a hoped for love. Long ago, I loved a man who became a priest…a man who never loved me as anything more than a friend. I learned over a year ago that he relocated here to the Bay Area and we e-mailed each other. I opened the opportunity for us to get together. Several times. And, this summer, because I was angry at remaining ever hopeful (even though I love someone else now and really hold no hope for romantic involvement with him), I let him know that although I valued his friendship in the past the experience of waiting to be his friend was painful and I couldn’t continue to do it. It may seem like a silly thing to do, but it was closure for me. This song was his song in my heart, but now I feel freed of that and it can just be a lovely song.

8. I See God in You by India Arie
This is not my favorite song by this artist. I love her voice and her style, but I don’t seek out this song generally. I chose it because my experience of meeting my partner was just this. I saw god in him. And I know now that he recognized god in me. (oh, yeah, and he kissed good, and we were really sexually compatible…but no, really, it wasn’t just about lust, I swear!)

9. Gave Me Love by Catie Curtis
Again I was late to being in a relationship and fully falling in love with someone who could love me, so this song reflects that. But it also reflects that love that I realized I was finally giving myself. It’s powerful to find, when you’ve wondered how to for so long, that you can have some love for yourself.

10. Love Is All Around by Joan Jett
This song has a twofold purpose at the end. First, Joan Jett rocks! But the song itself is about just what it says. Love is all around for others and for myself. Silly perhaps, but a good message for me to take with me always (especially considering the place I was just 2 years ago). But the best part about this song is that it is Jett’s cover of the Mary Tyler Moore theme. Not only was that the first television show about a strong woman making it in the world, but it was set in Minneapolis where I grew up. It’s a bit like the little Minnesota girl who watched that show and dreamed of being independent and attractive and smart has finally grown up to realize that she is and has been that all along.

There then is my compilation and why I made it the way that I did. I’m betting that a few of you would really dig it, even if Ben didn’t. But even if no one else liked it, I did, and that's really all that matters.


WritingInAlaska said...

You are right ... I would TOTALLY love your compilation cd! And it sounds like you all had a great trip to Yosemite ... I'm so jealous! What a fabulous way to spend Christmas! We got several inches of snow on Christmas Day (after pretty much no snow for over a month), so that was a good thing. I'll go to bed humming good music now (but which song, with so many good choices....?)

Ben said...

Thanks for pointing me in the direction of this post.

I suspected the songs held deeply personal significance for you and were chosen for that reason (as is one of the central premises of the Shuffleathon concept, after all), and so did appreciate that I was quite likely to cause offence by being critical and negative about tracks which are more than just mere pieces of music to you.

But, having weighed it up, there didn't seem to be any other way of approaching music which was unfamiliar chosen by someone whose personal background I had no knowledge of (and didn't want to speculate about - that has itself been the cause of offence in a couple of other reviews). Admittedly my inner critic couldn't be restrained at times, but I hope you can forgive that, critiquing almost always being more entertaining than praising.

All in all, then, I'm very grateful to you for not taking the review personally - it must have been hard not to do so, even if you could appreciate I had nothing but the music to go on - and for introducing me to some artists I wouldn't otherwise have encountered.