The Song Journal

Miscellaneous news and writing by Bob Franke, mostly about songs as a portable art form, and the process of creating them and enabling them to do their work in the world.

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Location: Peabody, Massachusetts, United States

from Bob Franke began his career as a singer-songwriter in 1965 while a student at the University of Michigan. Upon graduation in 1969 with an A.B. in English Literature, he moved to Cambridge, Massachusetts, and has since made New England his home. Bob has appeared in concert at coffeehouses, colleges, festivals, bars, streets, homes and churches in 33 states, four Canadian provinces and England.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

In praise of silence

I listen to crickets and tree frogs outside my window, having just experienced putting together and listening to my first "mix tape" on my PDA. It's nothing new in the imagination of humanity, but it's been tremendously reassuring to me to choose only my favorite songs from my favorite albums, not giving it a lot of thought, but choosing from the already chosen, albums I've put on my hard drive because I love them and want them handy. I've always resisted mind exercises like "what albums would you rescue if you were stranded on a desert island". For me it would be impossible to make choices like that on the spot. But "what songs would you transfer to a limited mp3 player from your hard drive" is just the gentle exercise of an evening. Here's what I came up with; keep in mind that a few Linda Waterfall songs are probably on their way to the chip:

Good Enough - Lynne Saner
After the Rain, Put It In Your Heart -Bruce Cockburn
Beat the Retreat, Dimming of the Day, A Heart Needs A Home - Richard Thompson
Help, We Can Work It Out, I'm Down - The Beatles
Freddy the Freeloader, Kind of Blue, So What? --Miles Davis
Northern Sky - Nick Drake
I Ain't Blue - Spider John Koerner
Step by Step, Stardust Ballroom, Solo - John Schindler

These may not be the greatest songs of all time--that's not the issue--but they are ones that I've kept handy after filing the others away. Listening to them again, I'm reassured that artists with whom I've shared space and time on this earth really have put some of the meaning and/or energy of our lives into words and music (and now digital bits). These are songs I can listen to again and again, for different reasons, because each in its own way is rich in meaning.

We're not that different from other generations, whose own songs and music have given them comfort. In fact, we're not that different from the crickets and the tree frogs, whose sounds have their own beauty. And none of it possible without the silence they all have in common: none of the notes possible without rests.


Anonymous Paula said...

Thanksgiving Eve is one of those songs for me. WHich reminds me, I need to get it in a format I can put on my iPod, since I only have it on cassette.

6:55 PM  
Blogger John said...

to see my own songs on your list is about the best dream any songwriter could have realized. I am elated & humbled at the same time!

2:14 PM  

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