* Hildegard von Bingen: 11,000 Virgins (Anonymous 4) (Harmonia Mundi CD)
* Tallis: “Spem in Alium” (Tallis Scholars) (Gimell CD)
* Tudor Organ Music (Smith) (Naxos CD)
* Stan Getz & João Gilberto: Getz/Gilberto (Verve CD)
* Antonio Carlos Jobim: The Composer of Desafinado Plays (Verve CD)
* Andrew Hill: Passing Ships (Blue Note CD)
* Sun Ra: Space Probe (Expanded Edition) (Saturn/Art Yard CD)
* Sun Ra: The Paris Tapes: Live at Le Théâtre Du Châtelet 1971 (Art Yard/Kindred Spirits 2CD)
* Sun Ra: Disco 3000 (Saturn/Art Yard CD)
* Sun Ra: Beyond The Purple Star Zone/Oblique Parallax (Saturn/Art Yard CD)
* Evan Parker: Boustrophedon (ECM CD)
* Tortoise: TNT (Thrill Jockey CD)
* Paul McCartney: Wingspan: Hits & History (Capitol 2CD)
* Bob Dylan: The Bootleg Series Vol.4: Live 1966 (Columbia 2CD)
* Blind Faith: Blind Faith (Deluxe Edition) (Polydor/Universal 2CD)
* King Crimson: THRAK (DGM CD)
* Grateful Dead: Auditorium Theatre, Chicago, IL 6-27-76 (d.2) (SBD 3CDR)‡
* Grateful Dead: Auditorium Theatre, Chicago, IL 6-28-76 (SBD 2CDR)‡
* Grateful Dead: Road Trips, Vol.4 No.2: April Fool’s ’88 (GDP/Rhino 3CD)
* Lucinda Williams: Blessed (Lost Highway CD)†/‡)
* Robyn Hitchcock & The Egyptians: Element of Light (Yep Roc CD)
* Patti Smith: Gone Again (Arista CD)
* Ciccone Youth: The Whitey Album (Geffen CD)
* Sonic Youth: Made In USA (Soundtrack) (Rhino CD)
* Sonic Youth: Experimental Jet Set, Trash And No Star (Geffen CD)
* Sonic Youth, et al.: Demonlover (Soundtrack) (Labels/EMI CD)
* Sonic Youth, et al.: All Tomorrow’s Parties 1.1 LA (ATP CD)
* Sonic Youth: The Eternal (Matador 2LP)
* Sonic Youth: Simon Werner A Disparu (Soundtrack) (SYR-9 LP)
* Thurston Moore: Psychic Hearts (Geffen 2LP)
* Thurston Moore: Trees Outside The Academy (Ecstatic Peace! CD)
* Tool: 10,000 Days (Volcano CD) †/‡
* Lifeguards: Waving At The Astronauts (Serious Business LP)
Astonishingly, Mom continues to linger…She has not taken any nourishment—not even water—for nine days now. We’ve been repeatedly told by the hospice nurse that her death is “imminent”—yet she keeps on going, unconscious, but hanging on. This has been an agonizing week of intensely complicated emotions. Every time the phone rings, I think it’s going to be “The Call” and my heart jumps. As the days drag on, I can feel my heart becoming calloused—and that is a terrible feeling.
It has been suggested Mom has some “unfinished business” here on earth she wishes to complete, but at this point, it’s impossible to know what it might be. Life is messy; not every loose end can be gathered in the time we’re allotted. And she is definitely a worrier—she worries about anything and everything and cannot be consoled by facts and reason. Then again, it could also simply be Mom has a cast-iron constitution and an indomitable will to live. She certainly can be stubborn—she had to be just to survive. After losing her father as a child and growing up during the Great Depression, she and my dad worked tirelessly to escape poverty and achieve the “American Dream.” She was—is—a remarkable woman.
But witnessing her slow-motion demise is just unbelievably wrenching, especially from such a great distance. I like to think it would be easier if I could see her every day. Then again, I’m selfishly glad my last memory of Mom will be of a happy and vibrant person—I’m not sure I could stand to see her in the state she is in now. My sister has shown admirable strength taking care of her these last years and I am forever grateful for that—and not a little guilt-ridden.
Life is messy and death is a mystery. There is a rare, awful beauty to old age and death by “natural causes”—so many people are killed by senseless violence or cataclysmic disease. I’m forced to contemplate my own mortality and I wonder how it would feel to be eighty-two years old and facing the end of life. It's almost too horrible to think about. Mom has been remarkably brave during this whole process and I hope she finds peace—soon.
What does any of this have to do with music? Nothing—and everything. Music and art communicate the inexpressible and aspire to immortality. Listening to music can (sometimes) let me get out of myself and glimpse larger truths. This week, Sonic Youth really hit the nerve, particularly some of their later albums and experimental film soundtrack work. This is a band I’ve loved since the mid-1980s and it has been gratifying to watch them grow older and develop into a universally revered avant-rock institution. Their beautifully clangorous guitars and elliptical vocals were just what I needed this week. Sure, maybe they should change their name to “Sonic Seniors,” but so what? Youth is overrated—maturity is life fully lived. I look forward to hearing what they do next—it gives me hope for this horrible world.
UPDATE: My mother passed away at 7:15PM. Rest in peace, Mom.