Everyone asks how to survive the winter in Chicago. The only way I've determined is by repeatedly fleeing it. I'm in the middle of a flurry of trips that has led to continual reinterpretation of my present home city and situation. None of that much helps an already unsettled guy who is juggling a horde of scenarios for mid-to-late 2012, most of which rely on decisions no longer in his hands. Life is confusing but remains agreeably unpredictable. I can flow with that.
On a far more interesting note, I met up with some Cottonwood Gulch friends in Albuquerque last weekend and drove to Cumbres Pass just over the Colorado border. Once there, amidst a developing snowstorm, we skiied four miles into the woods until we reached a nicely furnished yurt with a front-porch view down to Trujillo Meadows and the mountains across the valley. It dumped a foot or so of snow on us the first twenty-four hours; after that it was clear, sunny, and just generally spellbindingly beautiful. We spent two nights in the backcountry cooking and eating delicious food, drinking whiskey, playing a homemade version of Apples to Apples, and exploring the area on our skis. Winter is fine if you can get out and do something.
I found the yurt an excellent place to continue my rereading of Talking Music, William Duckworth's collection of composer interviews. As usual, John Cage says a bunch of awesome shit all the time; no big news flash there. I was particularly struck by Lou Harrison's description of his lessons with Arnold Schoenberg. Not surprisingly, they involved heavy counterpoint study. What I loved, though, was Schoenberg's advice to Harrison before the latter left for New York:
"You don't need to study with anyone now. Study only Mozart."
How about that, eh.
I could use a little more Mozart myself these days, a bit of immersion into melody. My listening/study diet has been particularly strange of late. (For the record, I had this in my head the whole weekend skiing.) After an expansive autumn of listening, composing, and playing that stretched me from Scelsi to the Microphones to Charlemagne Palestine and writing a big paper about a Kyle Gann disklavier study, I must say I've reined it in a bit. Since early December I'm pretty sure I haven't listened to anything but
1) Trout Mask Replica,
2) Pink Moon,
I guess it kind of makes sense. It's a winter frame of mind, retreating into a few familiar obsessions as the solstice nears. Now we're moving toward spring. As usual for late January, I'm restlessly awaiting the re-opening of things that's still weeks away, but I can't quite push myself to step on too much unfamiliar ground. So for now I guess I'll continue my musical hibernation until it's time to do some sowing.
Two big projects -- Yoakum and the next set of Golconda tunes -- are awaiting this spring. Some more cover songs will probably appear on the Golconda soundcloud page before long.
10 Best of 2014
January: Wyoming and the Open
February: New Mexico and the Holes
Notes on The Accounts