The last few days of April. Rain still coming and going in LA. “April showers” is a thing, but rain in Southern California, not so much. I’m getting accustomed to it though and will miss it when the rain is gone. Today is a day of change. New office in a new part of Los Angeles. We are in a space with more space, with exposed ceilings, and giant windows everywhere. I can stand up and see the ocean. This gifts me a sense of peace. An unexpected blessing. I should have known it would, to be honest. The sea and me, we go way back. The ocean has always been something magical to me, calming and hopeful, and full of peace and possibility.
Today’s Top 5 Music Obsessions are songs that have been bubbling up over the last few days. Songs I keep hitting repeat on. Songs that make me feel good, which is important right now. I’ve struggled a lot lately, more than I have since I was so much younger. I didn’t expect to ever be reacquainted with my twenties-anxiety, but it came back to me over the last year. I’m always one to find the good in things, but it’s been quite a struggle to find the good in all this anxiety. Today, as I was driving one thing, did occur to me…all this anxiety inspired my investigations into mindfulness, into meditation, healthy eating, walking, and breathing. Writing and music have always been tools, but these others are new to me – and they are helping my anxiety, along with some other internal, and external things.
It’s slow going. Any change is. But it’s been a gift to my life. So, I suppose, that is the good in the anxiety. It has led me to live more healthily, with more vulnerability and mindfulness. It is helping me be more awake, and alive.
The first track in today’s Top 5 is from Minnie Riperton. It’s a tune that recalls my childhood, reminding me of riding in my family’s light blue station wagon or lying on the floor in our living room listening to the music coming out of the bigger-than-me-at-the-time speakers. Next up is the perfect end-of-April song by the incredible Patti Smith. I feel like I’m always uncovering music of hers, and I’m grateful for that. Jennie Lawless is a new discovery singer that I recently added to a walking mix of mine. I can’t seem to get enough of this track of hers. Today’s 4th song is another one of Juliana Hatfield’s Olivia Newton-John covers. I really don’t think I’ll ever tire of hearing ONJ’s songs, by her, or by Juliana. Bedouine is this week’s newest discovery – discovered today on my way into work. It reminds me of 60’s music my mom used to play back in that car, and living room, I mentioned before.
Let’s have a listen to all 5. You can stream on Spotify and YouTube – or just press play below.
Top 5 Music Obsessions – April 29, 2019
1. “Les Fleurs” by Minnie Riperton
from the album, Come To My Garden (1970)
“Ring all the bells,
sing and tell the people that be everywhere,
that the flower has come.
Light up the sky with your prayers of gladness,
for the darkness is gone.
Throw off your fears,
let your heart beat freely at the sign,
that a new time is born.”
This song seems perfect for a day of change, like today for me. It has a feeling of joy and hope to it. That said, after its recent use in the closing credits of Jordan Peele’s film, Us, there is something foreboding about it, as well. And relevant to the movie’s story (“…for the darkness is gone.”)
I first knew of Minnie’s music through her 70’s hit “Lovin’ You”, a track my late husband used to love for reasons he never truly explained (but that I credited to his own childhood). I also remember hearing “Les Fleurs”, and the album Come To My Garden growing up. I’m pretty certain it was among my mom’s large record collection.
Minnie is the mother of Maya Rudolph, a favorite actor/writer/comedian of mine. She died tragically from breast cancer, in 1979. At diagnosis, which was unfortunately late, her prognosis was dire. Nonetheless, Minnie continued touring and spoke out with the American Cancer Society.
2. “April Fool” by Patti Smith
from the album, Banga (2012)
be my April Fool.
you’re the only one.
Come on your rusted bike.
we’ll break all the rules.”
“April Fool” reminds me of my young adulthood. Being in my very late teens and early twenties. My first car. The freedom that came with it. The hope I tied to everything and everyone I met, even though my life should have shadowed me with jadedness and doubt.
It also reminds me of my younger life. My first bike. The freedom that came with that, too. Riding around the neighborhood. My clip on radio playing. Feeling the Summer breeze whip my hair back. Feeling like I could be anyone I wanted to. Feeling like I could be anyone but me.
3. “I Want To Believe” by Jennie Lawless
from the EP, Two Songs (2018)
“I shut out the part of my doubtful heart.
Shudder at the thought of it spreading out.
Impressionable me cannot let it spread –
I wanna keep my head.”
I stumbled on this song when I was putting together a walking playlist for myself, and it stuck out to me, feeling very relevant to how I am lately. Seeking my optimistic self that has been dimming lately. Resurrecting her. Breathing new life in my hopeful side.
“I Want To Believe”. I want to keep believing. I want to get back into seeing this world as a beautiful thing, and my life as something so very good. I’m tired of feeling so doubtful and negative. I need the light that’s always been so vital to me and my life.
4. “Have You Never Been Mellow” by Juliana Hatfield
from the album, Juliana Hatfield Sings Olivia Newton-John (2018)
“Have you never been mellow?
Have you never tried to find a comfort from inside you?”
I’ve written a lot about Olivia Newton-John’s music, and what it meant to me as a young girl. She was one of my favorite things, and her songs are part of the DNA of me. I was beyond excited (understatement) when Juliana Hatfield (one of my favorites from my twenties) released a cover album of Olivia’s songs.
No matter how many times I play the album, I never get tired of the songs. Never. I just love them more. This morning, “Have You Never Been Mellow” came on and it felt so perfect for how I’m feeling today, and lately. My need for mellowness, for mindfulness, for calm, and for happy. I feel like I’m surrounded by so much negativity, in all aspects of my life, and its been very hard on me.
But, I’m taking back happy. It is a choice, even when the choice is hard and feels insurmountable. Maybe we can’t be happy all the time. I know we can’t. But, I do believe we can choose to see the good in things, repeat to ourselves what we are grateful for (or write them out), and realize that in so many ways we are lucky to be here, to be alive, to love, and be loved.
Optimism, mellowness, and love do not fix everything. Money seems to beat out all of those things, even love, as does worries about money. But, somewhere in each day, we should appreciate love. I try to appreciate it. Love. As well as music, movies, books, the weather and blue sky, and all the random things that make up a day. I try to appreciate that I’m still breathing, too. Life is short and fleeting. Shorter than any of us think. We don’t get today back. We don’t get any of these moments back. Not ever.
5. “Come Down In Time” by Bedouine
from the single, “Come Down In Time” (2018)
“Come down in time I still hear her say,
so clear in my ear like it was today.
Come down in time was the message she gave.
Come down in time,
and I’ll meet you half way.”
What a gorgeous Elton John cover.
I came across this today via the Discover Weekly Playlist from Spotify. Bedouine’s cover of “Come Down In Time” was an insta-obsession. I kept hitting play, over and over again.
Bedouine is the name of Azniv Korkejian’s musical project. It is a take on the word Bedouin, meaning a nomad, or wanderer. Azniv is a bit of a Bedouin herself. She was born in Aleppo, Syria, grew up in Saudi Arabia, and then moved to the US when her family won a Green Card Lottery. Since then she’s lived in Boston, Houston, and now LA.
If you could go wandering today, where would you go?
Top 5 Music Obsessions – Week of April 29, 2019