It’s an interesting time for me to be writing a music blog like Ear to Ear.
I’ve kind of retreated into silence during the difficult times we’re facing. I know so many have turned to music for solace and comfort these past months, and that is exactly what music does best. So it’s weird to be a professional musician over here turning instead to the absence of music for solace and comfort!
Perhaps this is happening because, being a full-time musician, I’ve never experienced silence before in my life. It’s somewhat of an incredible experience actually. I’m hearing myself think and feeling myself feel in a whole new way when I’m awash in only stillness.
I will say though, there have been several times where I’d open my laptop to work or turn on my iPad to watch something, and music has “accidentally” been on and caught me despite my trying to actively avoid it. In those moments, it still was able to take my breath away the way it used to, and I had to stop and listen and breathe with it.
These pieces are from that handful of accidental music, and represent moments of hope and a renewed spirit for song that happened for me as I listened. Hopefully they move you in some deep and needed way as well.
Olafur Arnalds — “Happiness Does Not Wait” — Performed by Angele Dubeau and La Pieta
Olafur Arnalds is a 30-something multi-talented artist from Iceland. He fell in love with Chopin at a young age, and has since become a writer/performer of everything from legit classical to hardcore heavy metal to experimental techno. My kind of man! Erased Tapes is an indie record label that creates compilations of songs from multiple artists that submit just a handful of works each. It’s a very cool platform. This piece is Arnalds’ contribution to “Erased Tapes Collection V.” I highly suggest an adventurous listen to the whole thing!
Arnalds doesn’t say a whole lot about his reasons for selecting the title of this piece, so I will say what comes up for me. “Happiness Does Not Wait” as a concept feels like the life lesson we are all learning right now. These are the days of our lives, whether we like it or not. The sheltered, isolated, economically lean, scary days. But they are OUR days. They make up the moment in time that we were meant to be alive, and we will never have them again. Happiness does not wait for pandemics to end, for perfect summer days with all of our friends gathered around to return. It can be ours, right now, alone (and likely unshowered) on our couches at home, if we choose it.
Peter Meechan — “Song for Hope” — Performed live by the United States Marine Band, featuring Ryan Anthony and Terry Austin
For Peter Meechan, this music is about hope in the face of a dire cancer diagnosis. He writes on his website, “‘Song of Hope’ is dedicated to my good friend Ryan Anthony [principal trumpet with the Dallas Symphony Orchestra] and his charity, Cancer Blows – a foundation set up to raise awareness and money to further the research that has helped give their family a hope for a future following Ryan’s diagnosis of Multiple Myeloma.”
For me, it is a song for all the different kinds of hope needed right now during this time: hope for justice and equality, for reunions, for health, for a recovered economy, for healing, for connection, for travel and freedom, for answers, for those better days we know are still coming. May that hope (and faith) remain alive.
Joe Hishaishi — “The Rain (Kikujiro). From the Joe Hishaishi Meets Kitano Films compilation” — Performed by various artists
Joe Hishaishi is a Japanese film composer with over 100 scores to his credit. This particular beautiful movie (“Kikujiro”) follows a young boy searching for his lost mother. But in truth, the inspiration for this soundtrack music/main character is actually director Takeshi Kitano’s own father, the real man Kikujiro — a compulsive gambler who struggled to feed his family and keep the rent paid.
The rain has always felt very cleansing to me. The handful of times it has rained while we have been sheltered in place, I was out in the middle of the street, face up to the sky, feeling if even for a moment like all the cares were being washed away. Hishaishi’s rain here is just that gentle kind. You can hear the drops splashing on the ground, not too hard, almost sparkly, in the music. I wonder if in writing down his rain, he felt cleansed from all his cares for just a moment, too.
Correction: An earlier version of this blog misspelled Olafur Arnalds' name. It has been corrected.
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