Today I’m thankful for occasional chances to live slowly.
Today is Ash Wednesday. I’m ambivalent toward formal religion and lean agnostic. Even so, I sing in the choir of a local Anglican church. Singing is like breathing to me. I need both to live. I attend most Sundays because we sing at set points through the entire service. I don’t believe in the metaphysical aspects but I still find beauty in the rituals, and consider “seeking justice and loving mercy” a worthy idea.
I honestly love the liturgical calendar. I’m struck by the idea that every day is a feast honoring someone. Every day becomes a celebration. Dividing the year into various “-tides” that reflect the cycle of seasons feels far less artificial to me than worrying about quarterly goals. I don’t suffer from misguided nostalgia in thinking the past was “purer” because survival required so much more effort. I do wonder whether we’ve compartmentalized and subdivided our lives so much as to be pointless.
I don’t sacrifice anything for Lent. That would mean abiding by proscriptions I just don’t believe. I do try to use the season to live an examined life. I don’t have any grand final insights. I write what I see. I probably won’t be an objectively better person by Easter but I will be reminded that what I do has consequences for good or ill. I don’t think knowing that is ever a bad thing.
Today I’m thankful for “Shine.”
I don’t remember how old I was the first time I heard the song. I’ve loved it since. It’s one of the few songs I recognize immediately, by the bass riff. The lyrics are challenging but hopeful. It’s in my vocal sweet spot so I belt along whenever I hear it. It’s one of my top three favorite songs. One of the others is “Cliffs Of Dover”, which I’ve posted about previously. The third is embarrassing and I don’t feel like admitting it just now.
Today I’m thankful for Iron Maiden.
I appreciate bands that have fun, not taking themselves too seriously and making music for the joy of it. It’s a bonus if they also happen to be good. There are three specific things I most like about Iron Maiden:
Chances are if I’m in a Maiden mood I prefer the music to be aggressive. Their guitar/drum combo never stops moving forward.
Bruce is an old school shouter. I’d rank him with any of the original generation wailers.
Eddie is the perfect mix of macabre and humor. He’s instantly recognisable, endlessly modifiable and bloody good fun.
Neither the song nor the video are mine.
Today I’m thankful for Sarah Vaughan.
I don’t remember how I first heard Sarah Vaughan sing. I was transfixed. Her voice is like silk. On occasion she would forget the lyrics, or be in disagreement with her band, and she never let it get to her. Recordings that include such incidents showcase her fairly wry sense of humor.
She started with Chick Webb’s band. Her broad range and warm voice are what made her stand out from her peers. She performed almost continually for almost 40 years.
I have no rights to the song or video.
Embed from Getty Images
Today I’m thankful for rugby.
I played rugby union at university. I can be described as “stubby” so the pack was really the only place for me. I can take a hit but I will never be a sprinter. Previously I’d swum for a number of years. Looking at the bottom of a pool grew tedious. I try to stay active and rugby sounded like fun. It was very different than any other sport I’d tried. I had a ball (pun intended) and met many lovely people. I have great stories and learned a few very, very rude songs. My dodgy shoulder is dodgy because of an actual old rugby injury.
Today I’m thankful for Emeli Sandé.
I’ve loved everything this woman has released. I first heard her during the Opening Ceremonies of the London Olympics. She sang “Abide With Me.” I wasn’t a fan of that particular performance but I was intrigued enough to seek out the rest of her music. Boy am I glad I did. All rights are attributed to the artist.
Today I’m thankful for choir.
I’ve been singing since I was five. I have a good, strong voice and can sing a lot of different styles. I learn quickly by ear and can harmonize pretty much instantly. To go with that, I can’t read music at all. Like, if my life depended on sight reading something I would die. I keep up because I’ve got a good ear.
Singing crazy hard music with a bunch of people who can really, really sing is an accomplishment. We have to listen, and function as multiple sections of one organism. It all has to coordinate. If my section screws up our arpeggios we leave another section out to dry. Actually, it requires a measure of trust, that the other people have learned their stuff and won’t make the rest sound crappy. When everything works we produce a massive sound that audiences enjoy and make the effort to come and hear. It’s pretty cool.
Today I’m thankful for the English band London Grammar.
Their singer’s voice is unreal. I don’t have any commentary, because frankly it wouldn’t add anything and they are so freaking good. All rights belong to the band.