Friday, November 21, 2008

She and Him, and Him and Him, And the Other Him (Not Pictured)

The new issue of Paste arrived yesterday with She and Him (Zooey Deschanel and M. Ward) on the cover. I didn't get a chance to read it.

This is because Kate and I spent the evening, the late night, and the early morning hanging out with Aradhna, who played a concert at the Ohio State University. That's them, minus the tablas guy, above.

I am far from a connoisseur of Indian music, and probably the very use of the term "Indian music" belies my ignorance. Imagine how huffy and put out my vast, musically astute international readership would be if I started talking about "American music" as if it was some monolithic, easily identifiable genre. So forgive my ignorance. All I know is that the music I've heard, both last night in concert and on CD, is utterly, strikingly beautiful. It's quiet, contemplative, and makes me want to shout for joy[1], all at the same time. It's unabashed worship music, although God knows I've done more than my share of whining and kvetching about contemporary worship music. And it touches places that only a few other musicians and bands -- chiefly Sigur Ros and Miles Davis and Sun Kil Moon, nary a CCM crooner among them -- can touch for me. It gives voice to otherwise unnamed and inarticulate longings and yearnings and groanings too deep for words. It's speaking in tongues -- in this case, primarily Hindi -- and those tongues are hotwired to my soul. And if all that sounds unbearably mystical, and it probably does, then it's only because I cannot truly name what this music does for me. It's beyond words. It's better than words, which the best music always is, and this is some of the best music. Nouns and verbs are simply inadequate.

So I and a couple hundred other people got to experience that last night. I don't know that everyone experienced some sort of spiritual epiphany. I do know that everyone I talked to was moved, surprised, taken aback by what they heard. One guy merely shook his head, as if acknowledging that anything he said would be ridiculously feeble. Another guy simply said "Wow." A lot more people simply smiled. It was a grand evening.

And it continued. Fiona (on the far left, above) and Pete (on the far right, above) managed to follow us successfully from the crazed inner city (where drunken OSU students were jumping into the shallow hole that is Mirror Lake, even though the temperate was hovering around 20 degrees) to the wilds of suburban Westerville, where we hung out for another couple hours, and talked about books and music and writing and God and how we push God away from our deepest wounds. It was an enlightening and gracious conversation. And then we all went to bed, far, far too late, and I got up this morning and went to work, far, far too early. You know what? I'd do it again in a heartbeat.

I am so thankful for nights like this. They are a wonder and a privilege. For those of you who are looking for a good entry point for Aradhna's music, I'd highly recommend their latest album, Amrit Vani.

[1] For those of you with long memories, or who know me personally, you may remark on how unlikely it is that the concepts "Andy Whitman" and "joy" should be combined within the same sentence. And you'd be right. Nevertheless, that's the reaction I have when I listen to this music.


John McCollum said...

I took some pictures.

Pilgrim said...

I'm glad the music has found you. Just in time for your Thanksgiving list.

Pilgrim said...

I'm not being facetious; I'm serious.