Archive | Music Matters

Carmen Soothes This Savage Beast

I’ve been a fan of female jazz singers since I’ve had my own apartment to fill. My first grownup love affair would have paled without Ella and I would not have survived the last without Nina. Yet only now have I succumbed to the charms and chimera of Carmen McRae. Something about her grown-lady yowl—her oldest soul take on that youngest of topics (love love and more love)—opens me up and strips me down as this brave new world keeps shifting beneath our feet. She croons”Miss Otis regrets,” and I marvel at how many colors course through that Cole Porter shade; “I’m okay how you come and go” and I make peace with my romantic limbo. Of all her albums, it’s “At the Great American Music Hall” that’s holding me closest. Listen and love.

Salutations and Solar Returns

Today is my solar return, though according to the Christian calendar my birthday is tomorrow. I share this day (technically January 19) with three women whom I consider geniuses, cultural alchemists, phoenixes who make art from their ashes so as not to waste an inch of this Earth’s precious resources. Sweet and sour Janis Joplin died young—she burned herself right up at age 27, talk about economical—but Dolly Parton and Cindy Sherman keep reinventing themselves with a pixie purity and a fulsome smarts that I only hope is my true legacy. Continue Reading →

The Church of Eternal Sparkles

I wake and for a few seconds savor the uncharacteristic stillness of my neighborhood and the chirping of birds, agog: “I got the best crusts of panettone for christmas!” “The people in #3L gave me brioche crumbs!” Then I turn on all the holiday lights and put on my favorite holiday albums–Stevie, Jackson 5, Vince Guaraldi, Otis, the Supremes, Smokey, Mariah (yes), Prince (double yes). I’ve decorated my whole front room in a mermaid pagan Jewish Middle Church menagerie of gold and blue lights, green and red candles, birds and giraffes and cats, pine cones and pine branches (rescued from deli trash, for reals), and blessed blessed menorahs and Mother Marys. This is how I pierce the darkness of ambiguity and abnegation–with my own admixture of faiths, inherited and inspired. First and foremost: what pleases my inner 8-year-old, forever tapping her foot and mending her heart. Sparkling and soaring, that’s what she likes. So I decorate what I can, breathing in the joy of time with my loved ones in days before and to come (gosh, I’m the luckiest lady), and allow the loveliest permakitten to arrange herself decorously on my lap. From here I can dream up anything.

"All, everything I understand, I understand only because I love."
― Leo Tolstoy