Yesterday in my studio I meditated to John Coltrane's Interstellar Space...
It was only a few minutes, but wow. If you would've told me a year ago that I'd be into this album I'd have thought you were crazy, but all of a sudden it's working for me. I find myself tangled up in the color and light of the sound, breathing in all its breaths. I open my eyes to the brightness of my room knowing exactly what I want to do with the painting on the wall.
I don't usually meditate before I start painting, and I don't usually listen to free jazz while I'm working, but I'm glad for whatever gave me the impulse.
About the album, Robert Christgau wrote in his column for The Village Voice that he was amazed by the duets, which "sound like an annoyance until you concentrate on them, at which point the interactions take on pace and shape, with metaphorical overtones that have little to do with the musical ideas being explored."
I couldn't have said it better myself! Here, take a listen:
Music has that magic ability to set a mood and tone for the day, bringing up memory and emotion, good or bad.
You can wallow and get lost in it, or it can drown everything out. Usually I spend half my day in silence and half of it with music on. There are periods when I listen to the same thing almost every day. Years ago I did a whole series of paintings to Peter Gabriel's Us. Then there are periods when I'm not satisfied with anything I listen to.
Because I'm aware of how much I'm influenced by it, lately I've been trying to be much more conscious of the music I listen to.
Last month out of frustration I spent several days in complete silence. I ended up listening to Pink Floyd's Clouds for an entire week after that. Bitches Brew by Miles Davis is another current favorite.
When it comes down to it there is certain criteria that needs to be met. If the music I'm hearing can jolt me emotionally in one direction or other without overwhelming me, I'm in. If it echoes the same mood as the painting I'm working on, that's good too. But it can't impede on the work. If I'm paying more attention to the lyrics of the song than the colors on my canvas, that's no good. There needs to be enough space in the music that I can subconsciously float myself into. Philip Glass is really good at that. If a whole album flies by and I realize I didn't hear any of it because I was lost in my work, that's perfection!
I just realized that everyone on this list is male, so here, to balance that out, depending on the mood: Concrete Blonde, Ani DiFranco, Nina Simone, Fiona Apple, Patti Smith, Janis Joplin, Amy Winehouse, Blondie, Yeah Yeah Yeah's, Zap Mama, Martha Wainwright... okay well, that more than balances it out!