A Shrewdness of Apes

An Okie teacher banished to the Midwest. "Education is not the filling a bucket but the lighting of a fire."-- William Butler Yeats

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Music Calmes ye Sauvage Beeste

The end of the year doldrums have struck with a fury, and we are all counting down the days until finals week-- although some with a oppressive feeling of dread and doom.

So imagine my pleasure when one of my students presented me with a mix CD with music he had chosen just for me! It was obvious he had put quite a bit of consideration into his choices. I was really touched. And all this new music I get to explore! It has considerably brightened my day.

Some of the artists I already knew: Andrew Bird, Radiohead, and Belle and Sebastian, for instance. But Neutral Milk Hotel was one I'd never heard of before. They have an entire album about Anne Frank that is really fascinating. The Decemberists are also a very interesting group with a kind of folkie alternative sensibility whose album Castaways and Cutouts revolves around the theme of seafarers and castaways, and their latest, The Crane Wife, is just amazing and impossible to describe. I also like the Elliot Smith track he chose-- this was a name I'd heard before but had never actually listened to the music.

And turnabout is fair play-- I introduced him to the wonders of Wilco, of U2 before they became big mainstream sellouts and to the fun of They Might Be Giants. I mean-- kids with whom I can talk at lunch about Morissey! See, just when I despair about the popularity of Ashlee Simpson and Justin Timberlake, along comes some kids with some taste and independence to give me hope. Of course, these are kids who read literature and poetry for fun. They remind me of someone....

So I am happily listening to this new music, and am so grateful to have students who are so thoughtful. Between that and the really cool Moxy Fruvous avalanche I received from a dear friend, I am really dwelling in musical bliss. This early Christmas gift was so much better than another apple ornament for the tree. And if you haven't heard these artists, you should give them a listen.


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