In his book A Way To Be Free, Ben Okri writes:
…the highest things are beyond words. This is probably why all art aspires to the condition of wordlessness. When literature works on you, it does so in silence, in your dreams, in your wordless moments. Good words enter you and become moods, become the quiet fabric of your being. Like music, like painting, literature too wants to transcend its primary condition and become something higher. Art wants to move into silence, into the emotional and spiritual conditions of the world. Statues become melodies, melodies become yearnings, yearnings become actions.
It made me think of my process of writing, which has always been mostly mood-driven. When I was much younger (and a more prolific writer), I had a seemingly endless well of new emotions and realizations that made for a great roller coaster ride and fed the writing frenzy. I used to always say that when the mood struck, I would grab my pen and start writing. But when the feeling was too strong, or too complex for words, I would head instead to the piano and write music. Instrumental music, mostly. I can count on the fingers of one hand the number of songs I’ve written with lyrics. It used to frustrate me endlessly how I could only craft a song with lyrics if the words and the music came together. I could never set my poetry to music, or write lyrics for my melodies.
Later on, I realized it was because the feelings weren’t the same. It took a certain depth of emotion for me to write music, and if that was my sanctuary when the words wouldn’t come, then how can I hope to force lyrics into something that was beyond words to begin with? In the same way, writing poetry or prose meant I was able to come to terms with whatever the impetus was. The story would have finished itself on paper. I had no idea nor motivation to add more to it.
Which brings me to this post, because I’ve listening to some neglected tracks on my computer. They have lyrics, yes, but because they are either in Spanish or Portuguese and I speak neither, then these songs have the same effect on me as instrumental music. I am able to appreciate the voice purely as a musical instrument, and inject any meaning into the song.
So allow me to introduce you to Rosana Arbelo, known simply as Rosana. She is a singer-songwriter from Spain, and quite an accomplished guitarist as well. I love the texture of her voice, and when she sings, I get the sense that I’m listening to some secret poem that is as simple as it is profound. It makes me wonder about what hidden truths I may be concealing from myself, as if they will only reveal themselves under the cloak of another language.
I’m not sure if I want to know what the lyrics mean or not. When I let my imagination work out the meaning on its own, it’s like hearing a different message every time the song plays. I like the magic in that. And, as Ben Okri wrote (hey, we’re back full circle), “Magic becomes art when it has nothing to hide.”
As a matter of strange and unplanned case of coincidence, Rosana’s latest album is called Magia. Oh, and NO, this has nothing to do with the recent Latin night at American Idol. Just sayin’.
Si Tu No Estas
Donde Ya No Te Tengo (acustico)
Tormenta De Arena
And to speed things up a bit, lest you think I’ve never known a funky mood, here’s a song that’s one of my favorite morning wake up tunes. I don’t care if it’s a typical and predictable chord progression. This song makes me get up and move!