Ennio Morricone, “Gabriel’s Oboe” – The Mission Soundtrack

Have you SEEN this movie? Have you listened to this soundtrack?

I’ve described my favorite scene from the movie here.

I’ve listened to this oboe feature hundreds of times, and it’s impossible to get tired of it. It’s just too beautiful. The instrument sings; it soars, triumphant. Glorious.

I’m not sure I can do too much more to describe this piece. Every time I listen to it, it’s the best two minutes of my life. That’s happened … hundreds of times for me. I can’t get enough.

See if you feel the same way.

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10,000 Maniacs, “These Are Days”

This song makes me feel so good.

This song sparks every nostalgic particle of my body to the next energy level.

This song came into my life for the very first time my freshman year at BYU. Of course, it conjured memories of high school.

And, now, this songs awakens every single experience that has ever meant anything to me in the world.

This song makes me feel more alive, because it reminds me just how much I have lived. This song is every moment, all the best moments. This song is now.

I have a good life.

The lyrics are a force. These are the words you’ll remember. Where was it? Ah, yes: The commons room on the second floor of Ballard Hall (U-Hall) of the Deseret Tower dormitories on BYU campus was one of the first times a song really connected to time, to history, and history included me, and I was part of eternity, an expanse not so overwhelming, so … expansive, because I felt signficant. I feel significant.

This song couldn’t have come along a better time in my life.

These are the days you’ll remember.
Never before and never since, I promise, will the whole world be warm as this.
And as you feel it, you’ll know it’s true that you are blessed and lucky.
It’s true that you are touched by something that will grow and bloom in you.

These are the days you’ll remember.
When May is rushing over you with desire to be part of the miracles you see in every hour.
You’ll know it’s true that you are blessed and lucky.
It’s true that you are touched by something that will grow and bloom in you.

These are days.

These are the days you might fill with laughter until you break.
These days you might feel a shaft of light make its way across your face.
And when you do you’ll know how it was meant to be.
See the signs and know their meaning.
It’s true, you’ll know how it was meant to be.
Hear the signs and know they’re speaking to you, to you.

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Arvo Pärt, Spiegel im Spiegel

“I could compare my music to white light which contains all colours. Only a prism can divide the colours and make them appear; this prism could be the spirit of the listener.”

-Arvo Pärt

The end credits of the movie Wit roll as this piece is playing. If you’ve seen the movie, then you’d know I’m already crying at the end as they show the split screen with Emma Thompson’s character, Professor Vivian Bearing, healthy, and her character deceased. I’m sobbing. And it all starts, really, 10 or 15 minutes before the end, when Ms. Bearing is so ill she can no longer speak. She lies in the hospital bed, letting the other characters exposit what’s going on. Her own college professor from many years ago, Professor Forster, comes to visit her, enters the scene; she’s in town to see a grandson and went to the university to ask for Vivian, and the faculty tells Ms. Forster she’s in the hospital.

Ms. Forster slides open the door. Vivian sees her and begins to cry. Her only friend, you see. Ms. Forster removes her shoes and lies next to Vivian and reads her Runaway Bunny, a children’s story, something that isn’t John Donne. Vivian cries herself to sleep. Ms. Forster kisses her tenderly on the head, fares her well, and leaves. This scene is so tender, so compassionate, so poignant, one can’t help but cry.

And 10 or 15 minutes later, the movie’s over.

Except it isn’t. See, it’s this piece that keeps me from turning off the DVD player. (Yes, I own this movie.) It doesn’t contain trills or glisses or fugal elements. Three-note repeating sequences on the piano with that gentle, bassy boom every so often at the left of the keyboard, and the cello sweeps along the progression with long, bowing tones. Two – TWO! – instruments. It seems like it could go forever – I want it to – but here, it lasts eight and a half minutes.

It’s powerful, it’s so simple it’s brilliant and it’s brilliant because the catharsis just happens, and like Mr. Pärt says, I can see all these colo(u)rs, and my life seems to gain all this depth and passion and … clarity. Colors. Definition. Meaning. If I had stopped that movie before the credits rolled seven years ago, I would have been fine, but since I didn’t, I can’t imagine its absence. It’s white light I can see.

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Bee Gees, “Stayin’ Alive”

This is not a guilty pleasure. This is serious business.

Apparently I sang this all the time when I was a child. Just out of the toddler stage, pre-nickel years.

That means before I was five.

My mom can do an impression of me doing an impression of Barry and Andy Gibb. I ask she respect my request not to do this in public. It’s embarrassing.

This appealed to my need to preserve humanity, even as an extremely aware, slightly precocious child.

This is beyond mere nostalgia. This is more than just fun. This is about survival. Yeah, fine, it’s disco, but “Stayin’ Alive” is one of the songs I cannot live without.

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Indigo Girls, “Galileo”

Quite a discussion is going on over at my facebook about this list. At least with the first piece. Anyway, I can’t believe I only get to pick ten songs. BUT, I attended an Indigo Girls concert tonight and felt very confident about including one of their songs on my list. How many millennia did the world go on before the Indigo Girls? How will the world go on without them?

I love the Indigo Girls live! They have A LOT of energy, and they always thanked us after each song, and they told us what great singers we were. Which: true. While it ended up being mostly us singing along, I could still appreciate their writing and their harmonies and their guitar/mandolin/banjo proficiency. It was amazing. Really intricate, virtuosic stuff. And they seem like very, very nice people. Plus: activists. We have a similar sense of duty, Amy Ray, Emily Saliers, and I.

I chose an obvious song, but it really has become an anthem in the last however many years since I first heard it. You know the song. It ends with the question I’m constantly asking myself: How long ’til my soul gets it right?

Also? I know I’ve said this before, but I love that they can fit nuclear annihilation into this song. That’s worth extra points if it ever comes up in a game of Encore.

Songs of theirs that come closely behind: “Closer to Fine” (of course), “Chickenman” (for total kicks), “Ghost” (so brilliant in its imagery), “Love Will Come to You” (SO pretty with the countermelodies), “Land of Canaan” (also quite fun). AND, I guess everything else they’ve ever done. SO not fair.

Enjoy. Sing along if you want.

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Samuel Barber, Adagio for Strings

I’m kind of going through some crap right now. I can’t/won’t talk about it, but I’ll put up my one of my favorite defense mechanisms and change the subject.

One (or a few) of you tagged me in a note on facebook: The 10 Songs I Can’t Live Without. I’ve been filing through the songs in my brain for the past two weeks trying to complete the list. So, I guess since this doesn’t involve anything too deeply and recently personal, I’m going to post a song from this list for the next ten days. They’re in no particular order, but with songs this massive, they don’t need to be. They can be on shuffle and I won’t need to skip ahead to another song. And they can play on repeat forever. Folks, this is my infinite playlist.

The first piece I’ll mention is Samuel Barber’s Adagio for Strings. The passion, the tension, the swelling and shrinking of the melody are astounding and inimitable. It’s one of the perfect songs for me and my life. It has the right combination of dissonance and resolution, grandeur and lowly depths. It starts ethereally, like a single breath, and fades away just the same. And then, after the silence settles, I give myself permission to exhale, slowly. This piece presses against my heart and lodges a sob in the back of my throat, ready to burst at any time, but won’t, quite.

Experiencing Adagio for Strings is one of the best ways to spend ten and a half minutes.

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Things I Maybe Shouldn’t Have Done In the Past Few Days

(I’m gonna head all these up by saying I shouldn’t have even stepped outside. Seriously. It only gets worse every time I leave the building.)

-gone to church, though that would have meant I wouldn’t have been to the incredible meetings which ended in a splendid, joyous weepfest

-held a baby, and I apologize to the mom for holding her even though I’m sick. But, it was a sleeping baby, and I couldn’t resist, but then the baby woke, and I didn’t want to hold her on my shoulder, close to my face, so I gave her back to the mom, and I felt better when someone healthy could comfort her.

-lingered longer after church. Being cooped up in the apartment against my will has made me crave some social interaction, but I saw a few people there I wanted to hug, because they were sad.

-gone to dinner at a friend’s place (without a jacket). It was a relatively pleasant day in the afternoon. I shouldn’t actually have accepted the invitation to dinner, but these were some of my favorite people, and it was hard to say no.

-gone outside yesterday. But that would have meant I probably wouldn’t have gotten to see some friends for yet another week that I really wanted to see.

I’m very glad I saw them.

So, while I should be taking care of myself, I really miss people. My life has been so much about me lately, and I guess it needs to keep being about me until I get better. Consider all the hugging I couldn’t do, or comforting babies, or sharing food, or giving backrubs. Those are things I’m pretty good at, and my being sick benefits no one.

What I will do now is bundle up and go to the store and pick up some juice and a nice herbal tea and something electrolytic and perhaps something chocolate. Yes.

I should have done that long before now.

Things I Might Have Given Up for Lent If I Celebrated It

mini powdered donuts – my love never fadeth; I had normal-size powdered donuts this week, and the taste was totally different.

corner/edge brownie pieces – but I’d make the sacrifice to eat the middle pieces. Give me a medal of honor already.

Heroes – this would require to stop going to a friend’s apartment to keep from watching it. I didn’t sign up for giving up awesome friends for Lent.

Guitar Hero – I’m not completely addicted, but I would venture to say withdrawal symptoms are likely, especially if I don’t get to play “The Kill” by 30 Seconds to Mars or “The Middle” by Jimmy Eat World.

vending machines – not necessarily buying things from them. Whenever I pass a vending machine, I have to stop and study its contents. I like memorizing the alphanumeric combinations. F3 on the machine at work is for Reeses’ Peanut Butter Cups.

Mayor Bloomberg tap water – I really love NYC tap water. It’s among the best in the country. How could I possibly give that up? What do I drink instead? Soda pop? Gogurt?

sleep – I LOVE sleep! I can’t even describe how much my body craves sleep. I don’t get enough of it already, but if I gave sleep up completely for 40 days, I wouldn’t be the only one suffering.

sunshine – people who live at the poles do this for months at a time. All I know is it would be so hard to give up sleep AND sunshine during the same Lent period.

compelling Sunday School classes – these are a rarity, but when they’re good, they’re incredible. Sometimes a little speculative quip will find its way into an intensively doctrinal discussion. That’s kind of like sprinking anchovies on brownies. DOES NOT BELONG.

constellations – it would not make me a stronger person to give up my romantic and scientific sensibilities for 40 days.

winter – YES! totally writing winter out of my life. Spring should be well on its way by Easter, right?

Does Anyone Need Any Ones?

One of my favorite things about the end of the year is all the lists. Top ten, top 100, etc., anything in between, with a vast range of categories. Top songs of the year. Top books. Favorite websites. Favorite people. Embarrassing things your mom likes to say in public. Top soups in the spring for Aleutians. 

I’ve done this in years past, looking back on the year before facing and focusing forward. I don’t think I’ve done it every December 31 since I’ve had this weblog/online journal, and I remember times when I’ve told you if you want to find out what I’ve done in a particular year, go dig around the archives yourself. This year, I’ve decided to try pulling events of my life from memory instead of resorting to the blog.

This year was pretty spectacular. Lots happened.

1 awesome roommate
1 trip to Austin, TX
1 foot after another in 3 races
1 triathlon with Bumpass included
1 new couch, party included
1 drivers license
1 American citizenship
1 reciting of the Constitution’s Preamble to a party crowd humming “God Bless America”
1 visit from Jenny
1 visit from Sarah
1 meeting with Ray
1 meeting with Ericka
1 Pleasy for the summer
1 taping of The Daily Show
1 National Spelling Bee with 1 numnah
1 mom and Tom visiting
1 BYU English class finished with an A
1 invitation to get published
1 camera to go crazy with
1 trip to Charlotte, NC
1 drive through Shenandoah National park
1 trip to Maine with a wild detour on the return trip
~1 dozen dates
1 amazing seminary class so far
1 pretty awesome Summer Olympics
1 sighting of Goblins and Abandon
1 incredible presidential election
1 great view of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade
1 roommate who graduated with her MBA
1 pretty amazing video1 truly addicting Wii
1 biological father who seems unusually intent in finding his daughter
1 very easy move to Inwood
1 amazing New Year’s Eve party to anticipate
1 of the best years of my life 

I know that’s not everything. 

You. You are everything. Thanks for a phenomenal 2008.

Happy New Year. Make sure you kiss somebody.