Volkslied: the depths of feelings

wish I could embed this here as a pretty little youtube vidjo square but embedding, alas, has been disabled by poster: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fgq-u89oEZY

so go there and watch! and suspend judgments about the nerdy audience faces gazing in loving awe.

this is a Korean singer who is taking the country by storm with her traditional folk style of singing. she’s young but super old in her musical tastes, I guess you could say — performing music that normally brings to mind something more like this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZU0mewGnTQQ

this folk music is called “minyo” — literally, “music of the people” so…folk music! haha. (woah! kinda like Volkswagen, I guess.) basically, it has connotations of oldness and traditionalness and definitely a sense of acquired-taste-ness.

but this girl is doing something new with her performances that’s making everyone fall in love with minyo, with Korean traditional music, with her. (her cuteness does not hurt.) my dad may or may not have sheepishly admitted to me that he is an actual a member of her fan club, and even I can’t deny the fact that I’ve spent the last couple hours in a youtube whirl of her vidjos. the fusion music she’s making — the old with a new twist — is a little intoxicating.

all this to preface this conversation my dad and I had last night as I was getting ready for bed and he popped in to say goodnight. a popping in which turned into a 40-minute youtube-share sesh abruptly ended by my mom yelling at us to go take a shower and sleep!! hehe.

it started with him busting out in song and telling me that his commutes, as of late, had been “life giving.” hmm. intriguing. dad explained that he had been listening to this minyo music during his long drives, and before I could brush it off — “haha dad you’re such an old nerd” — he explained how his company has a weekly meeting where team members gather to share things about creativity, the arts, etc. with each person taking a turn each week and when it got to my his turn, how he eagerly shared this recently discovered love. and how surprised he was at the various reactions he received.

wait wait wait lemme go get the laptop and show you the videos

my dad works in an international company, headquartered in Italy. the employees in his Virginia-based office range from American to Italian to various other European to…Korean-American, obvi. and he told me that the sharing of these videos really brought out the differences between certain cultures in the melting pot (erm…maybe salad bowl) that is his workplace.

dad reflected — the amazement and curiosity clear on his face, even still — that while the Americans didn’t much seem to enjoy the songs, audience members of Italian, Polish, Russian origins were floored. I italicize that because he italicized that, so many times during this conversation with me. apparently his European colleagues are practically members of this girl’s fan club now, too, demanding that my dad let them know should she ever come to the states on a tour.

and then he continued to reflect: maybe there truly was something in the cultural DNA of a people (whatever this means), created over generations, over tragedies, over prolonged sufferings, that created in them an ability to appreciate emotion on some different, deeper level. and yeah, America had had its share of difficulties, of course, but nothing like pogroms and dictators and mass genocides. not to the endangerment of the majority, anyway. it’s as if histories of strife have left in these cultures grooves that run deep and close to nerve endings, and those spark when familiar feeling gets poured out over the surface, dripping into the grooves. there’s something shared, even tangentially and weak-soupily all the way up to today’s comfortable current generation, that makes it easier to evoke responses to art instilled with deep emotion and imbued with a historical shade of crimson. dah.

sure, these wonderings are rife with cultural generalizations and generalized assumptions. but cliches are for real! what is it that makes a people “more emotional,” more prone to the dramatic, more liberal with their hand gestures, anyways? what makes that kind of culture come about, if not a certain shared history? (climate? the food? technological advantages? I DON’T KNOW!)

I dunno a lot of things but what I do know is that I’ve been stealing a lot of thought strings from a lot of different people to populate this blog’s content, as of late. they’re all a part of the groove-making experiences of my life that have been making me a little deeper, a little sadder, a little happier these days.

also, kinda funny:

groove groove groove. minyo minyo YO YO YO. in all this talk of music and feeling. feeling. feeling. feelin’ groovy~


smiling is as smiling does

The soft, yellow light of the concert stage graces his face and he is at once softened and sharpened, the shades and shadows of his face kinder and clearer for the fans carefully drawing them into their memories below. Mental notes are scribbled; the curve of his nose carefully engraved, next to the way his fingers wrap around the neck of the guitar in the collective archive of memories floating above the crowd. They’re swaying, inching imperceptibly closer, moths toward the irresistible flame of talent and chest-ringing acoustics. And the pure joy. It’s almost palpable in the air he takes in and breathes back out, the great delight he takes in doing this thing he has mastered and handles with the unassuming ease of steering one’s own limbs. Camera shutters click in endless desire; eyelids, too, cover and uncover their shining orbs in slow motion, as if to expose the retina to the particular shape of his light, to develop the memory films and tuck them away along with the smells, the feelings, the sounds of the night.

He smiles and they smile back, it’s a reflex neither party can help, and no one can remember who started the exchange but it doesn’t really matter. He gazes down and smiles – somehow proudly and shyly at the same time, a part of his magic – as he tells them how pretty they all look, gazing up at him with their own smiles on their faces, how nice it is to be here, Everyville, America, you guys are just the best. He tells them how happy they look, and they’re tricked into even more enthusiastic smiles, all the happier because he says so and then happier still, which makes him beam again, and again, and again. It might be a genius stage trick, he’s an old hand at this, they know, but it, like so many things right now, just doesn’t matter. Nothing matters except the fact that he tells them we look happy and then they are so. Swaying to the magic of unknown melodies amid unknown bodies, the air thick with last-minute hair spray and summertime sweatiness under the awning that holds the starlight of the late concert and the smiles no one can help.