Hey, hi, hello 👋
Fun fact: as I'm writing this, I actually have no clue what song or album I'm going to recommend you, but I will bet you money by the time you make it down there, 👇, I will have figured it out. On the other hand, I do have a pretty good idea of what I want to talk about while we're up here. Although, I'm not quite sure what to label it as, so instead, I'm going to just let it rip and maybe I'll figure that out later.
Last week, I published a little holiday gratitude edition for you guys, in it I highlighted some of the interactions we've shared over the past few weeks and talked briefly on how interesting and rewarding this little journey has been. Seems pretty harmless right?
Did you know last week's edition was the only one thus far that I unscheduled for publication and even thought about trashing entirely? Why? I felt it was too self ingratiating. Part of me convinced myself that I wrote last weeks post to pat myself on the back, to state to the universe (and I guess you all more specifically): "Look at me! People like something I do! I am not just talking to myself"! I found it to be such a curious self dialogue. I was terrified to publish last weeks edition because I feared one of you would read it and think that it was self absorbed. I feared that one of you would read it, determine it was far too braggadocios, and cast judgement on me 'til the end of my days. I guess what happened next was interesting, my brain did a couple things in response after realizing that censoring an edition was out of the question and that it would defeat the purpose of this writing space entirely.
First up: Even if I did want to pat myself on the back, what's wrong with that? Why have I developed an adversity to taking pride in the work I do, in the things I create? Well, I lived with a raging narcissist for 9 years and realize now, at 27, my worst fear is to become that person. It appears to me, any step I take towards self appreciation makes me feel like I'm half a second away from becoming my own worst enemy and a threat to those I love. So much so that I feared making the mistake of doing it even once in a public forum. I recently shared some brilliant words by my favorite writer, Joan Didion, on Instagram, only a few months later it seems I have forgotten them entirely.
"I’m not telling you to make the world better, because I don’t think that progress is necessarily part of the package. I’m just telling you to live in it. Not just to endure it, not just to suffer it, not just to pass through it, but to live in it. To look at it. To try to get the picture. To live recklessly. To take chances. To make your own work and take pride in it...
When I'm not operating from a place ruled by fear, I believe that we have a responsibility to ourselves to indulge in the whims of the heart and mind even at the cost of a mistake, even at the cost of embarrassment, and yes, even at the cost of rejection. None of those things should get in the way of you realizing the bounds of one's self, granted, that you possess the self awareness to learn from ones missteps. If you need to toot your own horn, do it, you must take pride. If someone takes offense then that's on them, your act of self love becomes an invitation for them to explore the parts of themselves that conjure that reaction to another person's joy. This is the first thing I've consistently created in nearly 10 years, I'm very proud of that.
Second up: I started this newsletter to learn more about how I think and how I see the world. By all intentions, this is a private notebook of sorts, exposed to your eyes only because I oddly believe the private world is best explored publicly. Here, we can help each other along, you can perhaps find glimmers of yourself in my experience when I choose to be vulnerable. But that will only work if one of us, that one being me, is willing to learn, grow, and fail in the open. Only then can I expose the less desirable inklings of the human experience that our minds would rather pass up than invite to dinner, only then can I produce writing that makes you point and exclaim: "I know that feeling!".
I also started this newsletter as a way to chronicle that journey and one day see it as present to give back to myself decades from now.
Another Didion quote:
...some day when I am only going through the motions of doing what I am supposed to do... on that bankrupt morning I will simply open my notebook and there it will all be, a forgotten account with accumulated interest, paid passage back to the world out there
My mind rallied around this in response to my moment of insecurity and fear. For a moment it wanted to bend itself into a shape less salient, to become inconspicuous, it wanted to sit and do the job: 'They're here for the music, not your thoughts Christian" I said to myself. Again, I realized that submitting to that notion would have defeated the purpose of this writing space entirely. No thanks, I share this to encourage you all to step forth into that space within you that fears rejection. That is where I've found the most immense beauty this year. Say what is on your mind if you find your heart to be one filled with love. If you find your words and intentions to be laced with poison, delay, obviously.
Just so you know, I'm stalling. I have the Song to Study, still marinating on the album.
🎧 A Song to Study
I've spent the last week building a very seasonal depression themed, autumnal, wintery, and nocturnal jazz playlist for those days that you want to be unapologetically melancholy, and as a result, I have gotten to listen to some of my favorite songs in existence. Why am I building a sad jazz playlist? Because life is richest in the bitter-sweet. While reading Susan Cain's magnificent book Bittersweet earlier this year I learned a fun fact:
People who's favorite songs are happy listen to them about 175 times on average. But those who favor "bitter-sweet" songs listen almost 800 times...
So you can trust this playlist will get me through for decades to come.
Okay, so why am I recommending this song? For starters, the song Stardust is probably my favorite standard of all time, there are countless renditions that never fail to stir the soul. Seriously, this song has been covered by Frank Sinatra, John Coltrane, Nat King Cole, Michael Bublé, Gerry Mulligan, Willie Nelson, and many many more. Each one has it's own unique flair that can lend itself to an argument over which is the definitive cover, but for me there are two that stand-out above the rest. The first, and my personal favorite instrumental rendition is the one I've linked here by Dave Brubeck. This song kicks off with a beautiful and gently phrased passage by Paul Desmond that falls upon the ears like honey into the bottom of a hot cup of tea. This is jazz at its most approachable, there's never more than one element vying for your attention at one time. It makes it incredibly easy to understand the message they're trying to deliver here. Lloyd Davis quietly shuffles behind the set with his horsehair brush gently striking the drum, it's so quiet that if someone told you this track was percussion free you would be inclined to believe them. Dave arrives into the track near the half way mark and delivers one of the most jaw droppingly gorgeous piano solos you will ever hear. My favorite moment arrives around 4 minutes and 30 seconds in, Dave hurtles us towards a crescendo and just when you think he's going to throw us off at the top he very softly and deliberately waterfalls us back down to earth before Paul Desmond picks us up and carries us home. For some reason, images of a lonely walk through a small European village in the middle of a snow shower get conjured when I press play here. Midjourney interpreted that vision beautifully below. Enjoy.
🏡 An Album to Live In
When I started this newsletter I knew this album would make its way into the fold sooner than later. Like Amen Dune's Freedom, What a Boost has become one of the seminal records of my lifetime. It's one of those albums that found its way into my life in a way I cant even recall, it wasn't there and then one day it was and I was instantly bonded to the soundscapes within. Rozi's voice has a hypnotic element that doesn't ask for your permission to be enjoyed, it just happens. There are shades of Jessica Pratt here honestly, they both possess the same je ne sais quoi that immediately enraptures the senses. So, if you enjoyed Quiet Signs then you will love What a Boost. Each song feels like its own constellation: twinkling, far out, and perched delicately between the forces of creation and destruction. The bass here reaches down deep but never for fun, it presents as some sort of galactic hum, the glue that binds. The keyboard strokes pulse by like meteors burning up in the atmosphere. These songs are beautifully simple in how they meet the ears, yet there are moments of discord within that to me feel necessary and poignant. To omit them would have been dishonest, to leave them out would've cast an unnatural sheen over the record as a whole, but those moments are here, they remain as a reminder that the process, whatever it is, is never straight forward and predictable. These moments are punctuated by swelling synths and crackling saxophone. This album has been a dependable companion for exploring interiority, it reminds me of how I felt listening to Dark Side of the Moon for the first time, it sparked that same instinct of: I need to listen to this on psychedelics, I must give myself to these sounds, I will be a better person as a result. So, if I had to describe in one sentence how this album makes me feel, I suppose I would say: it feels like you're cozied up, tucked into bed, except your bed is floating through a colorful space nebula, but you can breathe, you're warm, and happy as a clam. Shall we see how Midjourney handles that?
Honestly, I probably would've used more greens and blues, more subtle pinks and purples but it's close enough.
👋 Until next time...
I understand how sacred privacy is in our day and I feel tremendously honored when someone trusts me enough to let me into their inbox week after week. Thanks for being here ❤️.