My dad sent me this link and I thought of sharing it with you all even though it’s a fairly popular song. This song, STand By Me, holds a special place in my heart because my brother dedicated it to the OA and me at our engagement and sang it for us. Sweet child.
I love the way they’ve taken street singers from around the world and overlaid the voices and mixed it to create one song – music uniting the world. Over the last couple of months I find myself gravitating towards jazz, blues, R&B and really soaking it in (I’d be happy for any recommendations from you all). They send these little shivers down my spine as I sit entranced, marvelling at the talent that goes into something like this. As I rediscover music that my parents played day after day, it feels like a rebirth. The angsty days of hard rock and the love struck days of Bollywood fade into the background as I put on CD after CD of soul music and hope that it will soak into my children’s very bones as they go about their daily business.
I remember my grandmother lying between my brother and me every night, patting us to sleep and telling us about stuff around the world. One of the things that made a deep impression on me was her telling us about the atrocities that the Africans suffered. It built a great deal of empathy and her words still run through my head at the oddest of times… She’d say “Africans have such beautiful voices because that was God’s way of carrying them through their darkest hours. The kernel of sorrow they carry manifests itself in their singing and that is how why they are blessed with so much music.” Prevented from reading, writing, praying, living freely, all they had left was the music in their souls. The songs were mostly about freedom, but very often they carried codes as the slaves helped each other escape. As part of the human race I feel the burden of guilt for what they’ve been through. I remember crying when Obama won, not because I’m interested in American politics, but because the walk was such a long and difficult one. Over 12 million slaves were shipped to America starting in the 16th century until just 150 years ago.
People often tell me that driving a car is the ultimate in freedom and self-sufficiency. I think you are truly self sufficient only if you have music in your soul and an instrument at your fingers. Walk, hop on to a truck, hitch a ride… as long as you have some music to keep you company you won’t feel the lack of anything. What more can a person want if they have a song in their head and a melody running through their heads? Can you ever be truly alone if you can pick up a guitar and strum? Now that it is winter I go for my walk after the children go to bed, my head wrapped up to my nose in a shawl, hands dug into my pocket, singing loudly to myself in to the cold dark, windy night.
I envy musicians more than I envy writers, inventors, doctors or any other professional. Actually I don’t even think of music as a profession. It is part of who you are – like your nails and your skin. There’s no getting under it. There’s no getting away from it. You can always have it along with someone or something else. Your lover might leave you, your parents will die, your children may desert you and you might lose your job, but music? No one can take that song away from you.
On that note I leave you with another song I am tripping on – The Blues ain’t nothing but a Woman crying for her Man -Dinah Washington.
Oh who am I kidding? Here’s more
This brilliant Coltrane take on My favourite things
and oh my God, this.. .
and how will this list be complete without Ray Charles? Actually it isn’t even a list to begin with…