I went for a walk tonight, and my ipod blessed me with the most fabulous accompaniment. It started off with "Amhran" by Leaves' Eyes, which is nice and pretty but mostly served as a lulling lead-in to a song that I'd totally forgotten was even on my ipod, "You Only Live Twice." When that song began, it was as though my eyes had opened so wide that the starlight and the bare red ghost of dusk upon the horizon poured straight into my brain. The strings go through that amazing motif, a melody like autumn leaves drifting down to the surface of a still pond, and then Nancy Sinatra starts to sing those amazing, evocative lyrics about life and love and dreams -- astonishing.
Then, as if to say, "Well, I haven't got anything else pretty enough to hold a candle to that," the ipod went to "Ravenous" by Manegarm. Now, Manegarm is really much too screamy for me, and I always suspect that if I could understand a word of the screaming, I might find the lyrics highly disturbing. But they do know how to rock, and after the beauty of that John Barry song, it was like jumping into the Pacific Ocean to swim -- and I mean the California Pacific Ocean, not some tropical part where maybe it's warm enough that it doesn't send an absolute shock through your whole body.
Even better, the ipod cleverly went on to "Tonight I'm Gonna Rock You (Tonight)" by Spinal Tap. How I love the rhythm guitar hook on that song and the way it comes back and introduces the solo section! There's a fine line between stupid and clever, and when you're Spinal Tap, it doesn't matter which side of that line you come down on -- it's all brilliant.
Having given me some breathing room, my witty little device eased back into pretty music to play "Byttingen" by Lumsk. I can't actually remember for sure what language Lumsk sings in -- Finnish? -- but their vocalist has a piercing, crystal-pure beauty to her voice the likes of which I have really never heard.
The walk rounded out with two Therion songs back to back. "Three Ships of Berik (pt.1)" reminded me of the one sad aspect of song-shuffle on ipod -- if a band likes to do intros or segues that blend continuously from one track to another, you end up with an abrupt cut-off where the next song or part of the song (in this case, "Three Ships of Berik (pt.2)") ought to pick up. But the Leitmotif of the Gothic Army that runs through the song is too good to pass up even if I only get to hear half of it.
"Wisdom and the Cage" took me home, and I'm not even going to try to describe that one, except that once I reached my place I had to stand and listen all the way through to the last echoes of that hovering guitar chord that ends it.
And when I said at the beginning of this entry that the accompaniment was fabulous, I meant it in two ways, the less obvious of which really hit me during "Wisdom and the Cage."
I felt in the company of those musicians. I felt us to be kindred, and engaged in the same struggle to bring clarity and beauty to this world. And in feeling their success, I was able to accept some of my own successes in that area. I've always thought myself a pretty good writer (even back when it wasn't true), but I've lately been gifted with very good evidence that I'm not just pretty good, but really quite extraordinary. I had lunch this week with my latest reader, who had just finished the first two books of the trilogy I'm currently at work on.
She told me that I'd made her cry three times in the second book. And when she told me which three passages had done that trick, I felt more than a little bit thrilled, because those three spots make me cry whenever I reread them too. (Of course, I'm pretty weepy and easily moved to tears these days -- I cried buckets at the end of Wall-E for pity's sake.)
So I arrived home flush with a sense of belonging to a rare and exquisite group -- those whose imaginations are able to move others.
And then I went in to take a shower and got stuck looking in the mirror at my shoulders. I'm not in a particularly good position to make a judgment on whether they're as good a set of shoulders as my books are books. But they were good enough to remind me how wonderful the whole neck-to-sternum region of the human body is, male or female, front or back. The smooth curves of the deltoids reaching down to the arms, the hollows between the clavicles and what may very well be the most attractive muscle of any body, the sternocleidomastoids that run from the jaw down to the breastbone. (And no, I didn't look up sternocleidomastoid to spell it, so feel free to either be impressed if I got it right or jeer if I got it wrong.)
Biology has no equal when it comes to intricate and magnificent and glorious loveliness.
Thank you, goddess of love, for shoulders, and music, and ipods, and success, and the random twists of the world that bring all of these things together.