Thursday, May 21, 2009

This Morning

I love these moments of self awareness. Today I should be tired. I should be upset that my commute took me almost twice as long as normal today and that I'm going to have to rush to get all of my work done so that I can pick up the little man from daycare at a reasonable hour this afternoon.

But at the moment I'm just basking in the experience of this morning, the sunshine, the music, the coffee, the zen of driving in to work.

I have been listening to the new Wilco CD (it's not out yet, but they've made it available to everyone on their website and someone must have ripped a copy off of that). But that's really not important right now.

I've listened to it probably 4-5 times all the way through already. But it seems to me, at this moment, that all of those times were getting me ready for this morning.

Ever since I woke up this morning I feel like I've been given the opportunity to take a step back and watch life as it happens. Not to actively take part, but to take in everything, process it, and come to a greater appreciation. Sure I've done a bunch of actions since this morning. I've showered, brushed my teeth, changed Oliver's diaper, drove into work. Heck I'm even typing right now. But it seems to that a spell has been cast and I'm just a witness.

I normally listen to NPR in the morning to catch up on world events and/or listen to some lively debate and discussion on interesting topics. Occasionally I listen to sports talk in the morning, but with the Cavs loss last night that wasn't an option.

However, this morning, I listened to the Wilco album. From the time I pulled out of Starbucks to the time I pulled into my parking spot at work the album played from start to finish. No extra time, no waiting in the car to hear the last two songs. It seems like all of the traffic that I had to deal with this morning was there to allow me to finish the album. The music took me over. Every note, every line, captivated me and became the sountrack to my experience of everything else I was taking in. Nothing on the drive looked any different than it normally does. I didn't take any different route. There was nothing new for me to see. No accidents or anything out of the ordinary. Everything was the same. But it wasn't.

I liken it to a concept Stephen King had in one of his books (I think it was Insomnia). In that book, he likened our spirits/souls to little balloons that hover over all of us. When someone dies the balloon is cut and the spirit leaves the person (that might not be exactly as it is in the book because my mind may have had some revisionist history on what i remember).

On my drive in I got to hang out in the balloon.

Right now I know that when I have a conversation, when I talk, the spell will be snapped and I'll travel right back down the string.

I've felt this way before and I'm sure I'll feel it again. It might not be triggered by the Wilco album again, maybe it will be triggered by a great Phish jam or a random song on my iPod. All I know is that music is the trigger and that when it happens I want the feeling to last as long as possible.

A few years ago, my previous band, Caribou Foot, recorded an album down in Nashville (copies are still available to anyone who'd like one). One of our songs, Dirt Nap, tried to bottle up a moment like this. We tried to record an album in one weekend which is a pretty tall task. At the end of the first night, after we've been playing for 12+hours, after we drank most of the beer in the fridge, after we were all on our 3rd and 4th wind we recorded this song. It was done live like the rest of the songs. However the recording of this is one of the few recordings I've done where I've been able to capture how I feel right now. A song where you can get caught up in the music, get sucked in, and for however long you're listening you get to float up in your balloon and watch life for awhile.

There's plenty of other songs I think that can do this. Steve Reich's "Music for 18 Musicians" can , the Decemberists "I was Meant for the Stage" has done this too. However to take part you need to be willing, to relax your mind and get lost in the music.

And once you're there the view is great.


  1. Beautiful post Michael! Nothing can move us and tranport us like music. It is the most basic form of human communication - most rooted at/in/to our souls.

    Insomnia is i think my favorite King book! And i like your idea of the balloons (i think his was just strings). What a brilliant image! We need to make that into a song, most definitely!

    I've had those moments, and they're always when you least expect them. I think the last time that happened for me was last month driving to NYC and listening to the new Kings of Leon record. I'd heard it once before that, but i was driving about town doing errands (though i still had a smidge of that feeling then).

    I hope that someone out there is listening to this record (or any of my records) and feels that sensation/state of mind sometime. To take us out of ourselves for a minute. And to share a better view.

  2. I love this. Really. Capturing those moments. Love it. Love it....