EVERYONE’S STEALING MY IDEA
But I don’t think you get to say that if you never got past the pondering stage.
My idea, a dozen years ago, revolved (get it?) around the notion that no one really listens to great albums (“audio recordings issued as a collection,” on vinyl, tape, CD, download or stream) anymore, in their entirety, with full attention. And that leaves something important missing. Music had become background, and that robbed it of so much nuance and value. Like wandering the Louvre with dark sunglasses on or eyes half shut.
Why had this evolved? Many reasons. My solution? Make an appointment, for yourself. Treat yourself. Same as getting tickets to a movie or play.
My model was to find an intimate, spectacular-sounding setting for a couple dozen people, a professional studio probably, with epiphany-quality speakers and acoustics, and play an album of high def (HD) quality start to finish with no interruptions, phones silenced under penalty of shame and banishment, no talking, bring a pillow. This isn’t Laserium. Just… the music, in its full glory, probably like you’ve never heard it before. Preceded by a brief talk giving background, context and maybe some little-known secrets, and hang out after for some post-play discussion if you wish.
Curation — picking something great and appropriate for this treatment. Presenting the Music in HD — most still have never experienced that, and it is a mind-blower. And perhaps most importantly — the opportunity to set aside quality time for yourself.
You don’t watch a film you care about while texting or talking with a friend; you know you’d miss important parts. Same with reading a book. But if you don’t give an album that solitary attention, you will have heard it but you really haven’t “listened.”
So all this time later, someone is doing almost exactly that. If you read the NICOLE RECOMMENDS section of this column, you might have experienced it before the bug called a halt to nearly everything. Three months ago Nicole told us of “Classic Album Sundays” at In Sheep’s Clothing, a downtown LA arts collective. “An ongoing series that is part lecture, part listening, focusing on one album per event, combining listening examples with a contextualizing lecture, culminating in a listening of the album in its entirety on a world-class hi-fi sound system — all vinyl, no BS,” she wrote. (My idea!)
I do hope that will come back. I want to go! They deliver the sound with two $5000 vintage Gerard 301 turntables, a pair of $6000 Klipschorn floor speakers, and all the proper peripherals. They serve tea, coffee, cocktails, craft beer, wine and Japanese whiskeys. Sounds like they thought of a few things I didn’t.
DIY AND FREE
But you can come close at home. It’s the dedicated time that’s important. Roberts wrote a month ago: dig a trench in the backyard and bury your phone, lock the front door. Go into a closet if you must. But give yourself the gift of listening, not just hearing, three albums of your choice, start to finish, in the order you’ve decided.
Is there a more perfect time for this indulgence than now? Better hurry though, the know-nothings are marching to get us all back in the streets. I’ll listen to the doctors and the wise governors, and those other folks can pay attention to Charles Darwin who just the other day pronounced, “If you don’t want to quarantine, it’s OK by me.”
I imagine you may be wondering, what have I been intentionally listening to lately? Well… actually… yeah, it’s about time I took my own advice. And so I will, and report back to you next week. Um, if I can find the time.
QUESTLOVE PRESENTS PRINCE — I got myself a complete Prince education this past week thanks to Questlove’s (The Roots) four-part DJ presentation of Prince’s music, livestreamed from his home in NYC, five hours each day, following a particular theme — e.g., Day 4 was “Live Gems,” spinning classics and rarities, while occasionally cutting in to impart his encyclopedic knowledge of Prince’s work and what exactly makes it genius, as well as sharing a smattering of personal Prince-related anecdotes. Although already broadcast, you can still search Youtube for “Questlove presents Prince #QuestosWreckaShow” to watch the full streams.
I CAME ACROSS
A live, improvised session by a Russian flutist, Anetta Morozova, from Paris, Saint Petersburg and sometimes Santa Monica. (I love the way Europeans claim more than one city as home.) It’s called “Quarantine Trip” — I think. I’m a little unclear, but it was intended to be part of something called Mystic Universe, which was going to be a simultaneous exhibition with broadcast April 8 at LA’s Wisdome and an affiliated place in Moscow. Then, of course, all this.
But Morozova decided what the heck, I’ll do my part anyway, and went into a local studio with just one camera person, no producer or engineer, pretty much flipped on the sound and lights and improvised a half hour show. Flute, keyboards and vocals. The lights are spectacular, transportive fractals, I think by a famous artist.
I’m sure she had some structure in mind, for the show she was supposed to do. But, still, it was a last minute decision. As you might guess from the titles this is mystical, spacey music, but even if you are not usually into that, check it out, this is very well done. Having to think about everything, while on stage performing, seems completely daunting. Thirty minutes. Impressive. I like it more every time I watch it, or parts of it. Pretty cool when she sometimes takes a step backwards and disappears, like… a mystic.
NM STUDENTS DID THEIR PART
To protest Nixon’s invasion of Cambodia. In fact, 11 were wounded, some near-fatally, including members of the media clearly identified in large letters, when the acting governor sent national guard troops to the campus with unsheathed razor- sharp bayonets. It was four days after the guard killed four students at Kent State, six days before two more were slain at Jackson State. It was gettin’ real.
I was injury number 12. High school ROTC students turned out to greet the protest march down Central Avenue with a hail of big honkin’ stones from the median, to teach those dirty commie hippies a lesson (love it or leave it!), and as a reporter for the student newspaper, I was standing in the wrong place and caught one squarely in my right eye, losing half the vision.
So as a reporter then at both the Daily Lobo newspaper and KUNM-FM, I was called and interviewed recently by producer Kent Ian Paterson for his “The Days of May: UNM 1970” radio doc airing this Sunday at 10 a.m. on KUNM.org, available for two weeks after as well. Sex and drugs and rock and roll, politics and protest, Jane Fonda, a college president under siege, includes music of the era — you might dig it.
Charles Andrews has listened to a lot of music of all kinds, including more than 2,000 live shows. He has lived in Santa Monica for 34 years and wouldn’t live anywhere else in the world. Really. Send love and/or rebuke to him at email@example.com