state of emergency

I’m listening to Björk, because I was listening to Ane Brun’s amazing cover of Joga, and it made me want to listen to Björk’s original. I haven’t listened to Björk in a long time, but I still love her. I don’t know why people have such a problem with her. Is it the voice or the personality? Don’t let it be the swan dress. People, you have to be better than that. She’s amazingly independent and defiant, and what better kind of role model could we wish for our daughters.

I love how her music is many things at once. It’s punk and pop, but also classical and symphonic. It’s musical. It’s movie music that gets played on the radio. She tricked us, a little, into thinking that epic music could be popular music. I suppose I was just the right age for Björk. She was huge in the mid-90s. That’s when I was paying attention. That’s when I was learning what else music could be. Because I was lucky to grow up with music in my house. All kinds of music. I never wanted for sound.

I grew up with the best, too. The Beatles and Elton John and Billy Joel and The Who and The Rolling Stones, too, but maybe not as much. Simon, as well as with Garfunkel. Carole King and the rest who didn’t just sing, but write, too. Fleetwood Mac and David Bowie, and everyone else who teaches that reinvention can be a great thing. I grew up on great music, so when I started searching for my own, I demanded only the best. I didn’t last long in the conventional pop world. It didn’t do the same things for me that Second Hand News did.

Björk was that music that I didn’t settle for. You can’t. She challenges you. She makes you uncomfortable sometimes. She makes ugly beautiful things. That’s why she and Michel Gondry were such a perfect match. Both making beautiful things with rough edges. Places where you can get your fingers caught, places that hurt. Places that dig deeper than the rest. Isn’t that what art is supposed to do? I think Sigur Rós is like that, too, and funny that they both come from Iceland. That can’t be a coincidence. Rough lands. Far far away from what we called the New World.

But I haven’t listened to her in a long time. I haven’t listened to a Björk album since, I think, Dancer in the Dark. It’s not that I didn’t like Dancer; I loved it. I loved the duet with Thom Yorke. Another kindred spirit. Another artist with a voice and a personality that refuses to be labelled and boxed up. Again, I haven’t listened to a Radiohead album since Hail to the Thief. Even there, I don’t think I really gave it a chance. Maybe Amnesiac was the last one. And there again.

It’s not that I didn’t like Dancer in the Dark or Amnesiac and just decided that I wasn’t going to listen to them anymore. You know, ‘I’ll listen to the old stuff, but they’re no good now.’ That’s not what happened at all. I just lost track. There is so much music out there. I say I grew up on my parents’s record collection, but I swear there’s stuff in there I’ve never heard. I don’t believe I’ve heard it all, and I’ve had easy access to it my whole life. It’s just that there’s other stuff. Newer stuff. I got into more preppy rock, like The Decemberists and Death Cab and Vampire Weekend. I left a lot of my teenage favourites behind. It’s not fair, of course. But there’s only so much time in the day. I wish I could take in music through both ears, but that’s not how it works. You need both for just one song. That’s how amazing music is.

I’m still rebuilding my own collection. I’ve lost my mp3s a few times now. It’s hard even to remember songs you loved last week for redownload, let alone the songs you loved during the last decade. I’ll get to back Björk. Sooner, rather than later. That’s all I can promise music these days. I want to hear you all, I swear. But I also want to read all the books, or all the books in my basement, at least. I want to watch all the TV shows, but they keep making more. I want to see all the concerts; I want to cheer at all the races; I want to eat great food in all the great cities.

I’m a glutton for culture. I just want to know the world.

YouTube – Tu Vuo’ Fa l’Americano – The Talented Mr. Ripley (HD)

This is the fluffy, fun part of the movie, but what I remember about seeing it in the theatre, Christmas Day, 1999, is sitting there and thinking, Oh, Jude Law is going to be the next big movie star. Oh, Philip Seymour Hoffman is going to be the next big character actor. Oh, Cate Blanchett is going to be the next big actress. We knew Matt Damon and Gwyneth Paltrow already, but everyone who joined them on screen was better than the one who came before. I’m still waiting for Jack Davenport to become the next big leading man.