Songs for Listening

for arts presenter Aaron Greenwald's playlisting project

  • # of Tracks: 11 songs

  • Length: 40 minutes

  • Themes:  eclectic ~ iconic ~ one of a kind musicians ~ Mily Cyrus and Bob Dylan’s Christian period are highly underrated

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I shared a playlist with Aaron Greenwald’s Songs For Listening project. Aaron is a friend, and one of my favorite arts presenters & curators. Some thoughts on my selections.

These are songs I've been obsessed with—a few of which have stuck with me for years (Void, Joni Mitchell, Jai Paul, Moondog), but most of which I've discovered more recently. Though I've been involved in a fair share of live events, I'm definitely a recorded music person at heart, and these songs all refuse to give up their mystery no matter how many repeat listenings I give them.

I tried to represent a few different areas I gravitate toward—niche genres like American hardcore (Void), British folk (Anne Briggs), and global music emerging from the internet's edges (Triad God, Jai Paul). Or superstars during eras that people discount...which is probably the real gauge of their greatness (Dylan, Mitchell, D'Angelo). Also a Miley Cyrus track because pop is real; she is way more interesting than she's given credit for; and on this particular song she sounds like she could take on Dolly Parton. And Moondog because I felt like I needed to include at least one piece of "classical" music. Ha.

Few of these recordings adhere to traditional notions of high fidelity—and that's intentional. I think often about an answer the composer David Lang gave at a pre-concert talk at Carnegie Hall: "I'm in the business of managing energy." Or something Sufjan Stevens said in an interview I conducted with him: "I'm just making these...shapes." I'm paraphrasing in both cases, but the point is this: music has evolved forms, genres & traditions—but the success of a piece will always be based on the marshaling of actual magical forces. Music is simultaneously a dream and a form of communication and a messy abstraction.

For artists like Void, Triad God, D'Angelo, Anne Briggs, Jai Paul their mysteries are probably, in part, existential. They're all folks whose slim discographies have had an impact (at least on other musicians) which far outweighs their profligacy. Which is a big ass fancy-worded way of saying that music is powerful, and that I'll forever believe a single song can change the world. 

The playlist includes songs such as…

Anne Briggs: “Go Your Way”

Triad God: “Gway Lo”

Jai Paul: “BTSU”