As Special As This

I spent some time last night listening to Joanna Newsom's Ys. Tangent CDP-50, Tangent AMP-50, Totem Arro loudspeakers. I know and love the Totem speakers, but the Tangents are new to me and, with Joanna Newsom's help and harp perhaps, they sounded better—more capable—than ever before in my small living room. The sound was fleshy and fast and detailed, whereas (earlier on and with other material) it had been thin and mechanical and uninvolving. I don't know if this has to do with the electronics breaking-in—they've now been in the system for about 200 hours—or if I was just in a good mood or if Joanna Newsom was responsible. And, right now, I don't care. I'll try to figure it out later.

For now: Joanna Newsom's Ys is a very special piece of work. I might be overreacting, but I find myself thinking that we—people, the world—should be thankful for it. Listening to Ys, it occurred to me that I spend too much time listening to stupid shit. I sat there, listening, thinking, listening, thinking.

Thinking: Man, I've got to stop listening to stupid shit. Everything I spend time with should be as special, as exceptional, as this.

I don't know if I'll hold myself to this ideal. Next week, or maybe even later today, I may wind up listening to some crap-ass indie pop band with some jangly, angular guitars and disco beats and yelps, but, for a little while, Joanna Newsom's Ys made me want better, made me want more, and I think that's worth noting.

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Stephen Mejias's picture

Hi Ward. Thanks for writing. I want to check out that Ys Street stuff. And, yeah, I think you're right about the stupid shit. It has its place, too.

Ward's picture

Ys is awesome. There's a live recording of her performance at the Bottletree Cafe floating around (or check out the similar stuff on the Ys Street Band EP), where she played Ys with her band. It's fascinating to compare the band vs orchestral arrangements. As wonderful as the orchestral stuff is, there's something wonderfully special about the stripped down band arrangements. More of a wandering minstrel feel. On the other hand, don't be too hard on the stupid shit. If music can capture the beautiful grandiose moments of life, it can capture the surprising beauty in the mundane ones, too!

Eric Hancock's picture

Don't be ashamed of the stupid shit. There is some great stupid shit out there. One should have a balanced musical diet.And thanks for the recommendation; I'm excited to hear Joanna Newsom.

Stephen Mejias's picture

If you're interested in Joanna Newsom, you might also want to check out her first album, The Milk-Eyed Mender. I haven't spent much time with Ys, but I find it much more challenging than her first album.

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