Monday, December 30, 2013

Measuring A Year, Part 4: The Year in Music

On Christmas Day, my parents and I saw "The Secret Life of Walter Mitty," and there is a moment in it, where Walter--staid, wallflower Walter--has a moment in which he has to make a choice to either get on the helicopter piloted by a drunk guy or remain on the ground and miss his chance to save his job--and himself.

His vivid imagination conjures an image of the woman he is infatuated with back home singing David Bowie's "Space Oddity" as she encourages him to be like the song's Major Tom and go out there and do something big. I'm not spoiling the movie when I say that he takes the chance...and it was one of the most effective moments of movie sound tracking I've seen in a long time.

I sat in the theater, hearing this song basically for the first time--I actually guessed initially that it was the Beatles, it's so reminiscent of their later sound--and figured it would fit perfectly in my year-end post about songs that shaped my year.

Because I, too, have taken some huge leaps of faith this year. Like Walter Mitty, my life has been better for them.

But this isn't the only song that has shaped the soundtrack of 2013. Before this one, there were many others that inspired me.

In the choral category, I got a tremendous amount of satisfaction from performing Ralph Vaughan Williams' "Dona Nobis Pacem." The lyrics are poetry by Walt Whitman, based on what he saw on the front lines of World War I. As you can imagine, some of the imagery is grim. And yet, as haunting as it is, there's a sense of hope for better throughout.

"Dona Nobis Pacem" was already becoming a quick favorite for me on April 1, when I learned that Echo had died. That night, I attended the first half of rehearsal, sitting in a sort of numb disbelief as the words of the piece sunk in and took on a whole new meaning for me. Echo fought her own war in life. She was abused and neglected as a child, abandoned first by her parents, then by her grandparents, who kept her sister but gave Echo to the foster system. For a child to go through all of that, and to face life with a few developmental delays, as well, seems hideously unfair. Her demons never fully left her, and that evening, I penciled the words "RIP, dear Echo" on my music, at the end of the third movement.

"Beautiful, that war, and all its deeds of carnage must in time, be utterly lost."

On quite a more cheerful note, 2013 saw the release of The Best of Keane, a celebration of Keane's 10 years since the release of their first single and album. They released three new songs with it, including "Higher Than the Sun," which many fans take to be a bit of a "love note" to those of us who have been so loyal and supportive over the years. It certainly encompasses the love the guys feel for making music and sharing it with the world--a feeling I can relate to.

"Sounds, sounds like a storm
Rages in the shaken air
Oh, whispers low
Like a friend you never knew was there."

They're going on a bit of a hiatus, which is sad, but also necessary if they want to stay sane. I hope to see them back together, making new albums, soon enough.

In late March, I discovered a newer band I quite like, Young the Giant. This song, "I Got," in particular, has become a favorite.

It was a decent year for pop music, if you discount Robin Thicke's "Blurred Lines" and R. Kelly the Child Molester's new album. Oh, and anything by Miley Cyrus. There were some fun tracks, including "Get Lucky" by Daft Punk:

...and "Brave" by Sara Bareilles:

I love the video for "Brave," it's just so much fun!

Obviously, music is a huge part of my life--every year--and I'm exposed to so many different genres in my listening, performing, and teaching. These are but a few that inspired me this year!

1 comment:

Erik said...

That's a great choice of songs! Sara Barreillas is one of my favorites (of course, I probably spelled her name wrong). I saw the original Secret Life of Walter Mitty with Danny Kaye a few decades ago on TV with my grandma. As soon as I saw the previews, I knew I had to see it! Also, I had forgotten about Danny Kaye- he was one of my favorites growing up.