“Children of the Sun” (Dead Can Dance)

Lisa Gerrard and Brendan Perry of Dead Can Dance
Lisa Gerrard and Brendan Perry of Dead Can Dance

There are days (or lifetimes) when it seems the only proper soundtrack that can, that should linger behind my thoughts will be something dreamed up by Lisa Gerrard and Brendan Perry of Dead Can Dance.  (Here’s an interview with Lisa Gerrard about their now and their history.)  Last week, I heard Perry’s voice at Open Books in Yellow Springs (thanks, Miriam!) and remembered they had a new CD out, and I bought it.  To me, today, their music seems the only sound big enough to contain the shadows and the light, all of it, everything.  Want proof?  This is good enough for me.

Three winter songs

These people know how to deal with winter...

The other day when the sun didn’t shine, and didn’t shine, and didn’t shine, and all my clothes that are not in the attic weren’t warm enough, I got jittery, wondering how I would make it through winter this year.  People say as you age, cold weather becomes harder to endure.  But the grey is too soon this year.  The rain.  Drear, she came early this year.

So as I do when I prepare for winter, today I listened to Dead Can Dance’s Toward the Within.  The live album includes perhaps the saddest song ever, Lisa Girard’s transcendent “Sanvean.”  You can see a long, beautiful version here.  (Her gown is worth a look, too!)  Lisa Girard just breaks my heart, and then fills up the broken pieces.  This week of grey skies needed true keening like hers.  It’s been a hard year.

Another cathartic winter song on the same album is the traditional, “I Am Stretched at Your Grave,” sung here by Brendan Perry.  (For a version with a funky backbeat that you might have heard, try this one.)

And now for something completely different.  This might be obvious to you raindogs, but “November” by Tom Waits is a worthy winter anthem.  Who else but himself could sing, “Go away, you rainsnout, go away, blow your brains out…”

Here’s hoping the sun shines soon.  But if not, you know what I will be listening to.

What will get you through the chill this year?

Song for my new year

Yesterday, I listened to Dead Can Dance “Toward the Within” because, happily, it’s Dead Can Dance season again, and their music always helps me into the right moody mood for autumn.  This song, “Cantara,” struck me as the proper anthem for my new year.    The sort of warrior voice that echoes through this song, in Lisa Gerrard’s language, seem just what I need.  I don’t usually choose battle metaphors, but this notion, the idea of preparing for battle, seems right for some reason.   (Contradictory for a Libra, maybe.)

At the end of the video, Lisa Gerrard mentions her child’s pre-verbal state, and how the child sings, unfettered by the bounds of language.  Maybe my war is with language, and I need to sing without words.

And I’ve been fascinated with death lately, fascinated with the full process that it is, and all that it implies.  After listening to Gerrard and Brendan Perry, it seems like this song is my right anthem for now.

How to get through winter

The leaves are mostly gone from the deciduous trees around our house, many of them stuffed in the gutter. (Have to do something about that.) It’s still sometimes warm enough to hike with only a sweatshirt, but that’s one of the false, temporary good things about climate change.

But the temperature can’t fool me–it’s almost winter.

This morning, my husband put on a CD by Ulaan Kohl, one of the incarnations of Steven R. Smith. (Smith is also responsible for Hala Strana.) Perfect choice. For me, fallintowinter is the season of Dead Can Dance and Hala Strana. I love the introspection and moroseness in this music; it’s so clashingly rich. Along with warm sweaters, extra cocoa, and stout beer, music like this weaves the tapestry I can hang on through winter.

In my house, there’s an imagined scenario. It goes a little something like this: At a family reunion, or holiday party, Lisa Gerrard‘s aged auntie says to her, “Lisa, can’t you write something a little more upbeat? You know, for the kids?” Lisa just looks at her.

These people will also be invited to teach in the department of Interdisciplinary Aesthetics. But only in winter.