Wednesday, December 2, 2009


It's been difficult for me to listen to music since the brain surgery. The sounds that normally blend into a cohesive whole in most recordings, my brain was somehow atomizing into discrete units that made each musical moment sound overwhelmingly complicated—jarringly, gratingly so.

Difficult to explain or articulate. I tried one day on my first outing in my little town where I was being helped by my friend Sue and ran into another friend, the great jazz pianist, Bill Charlap. I was excited to communicate what I was experiencing with music, but I'm afraid I came off as a little out of my mind, which is of course partly what this whole experience has been about.

But yesterday, I tried listening to some music again and it sounded close to normal. I hit the shuffle key on my laptop and the first tune was an old Billie Holiday recording from the early '30s, THESE'N'THAT'N'THOSE (beautiful tone to her voice) followed, as it happened, by Bill Charlap's trio's version of SOME OTHER TIME, as close to Bill Evans as is humanly possible, while still being Charlap. A haunting tune, one of my favorites.

Later I watched a PBS special showcasing "for the first time" musical/video selections from the Ed Sullivan show in the 1960s, the highlights of which included of course the first appearance by THE BEATLES, plus two knockout performances by THE ANIMALS (WE GOTTA GET OUT OF THIS PLACE and THE HOUSE OF THE RISING SUN)—better than the original recordings, especially Eric Burden's vocals and Alan Price's keyboard work—THE DOORS doing LIGHT MY FIRE (and angering Sullivan because they were supposed to censor the lines about "getting higher" but didn't) and THE ROLLING STONES looking almost teenage, with Kieth Richards looking actually kind of goofily giddy and self-conscious.

Anyway, I'm writing a little better, but this still took way too many repeated attempts to correct yaw too many mistakes so I'll stop now.

(I'm leaving that one last mistake as an example of how my brain is still transposing letters etc.)


Anonymous said...

LOVED the Sullivan show!!

-K- said...

Hey Michael, I just you as the leadoff post on Silliman's Blog.

I bet a lot of people will be fascinated (like me) as to what brain surgery feels like from the inside out.

Elisabeth said...

It might be taking you a long time to write these postings but they come across as amazingly articulate for one who's just endured brain surgery. It's wonderful too that music is coming together again for you, too.

Go brain go.

Delia Psyche said...

Yaw--a ship's swerving (and I'm also seeing a plough swerve away from the furrow, i.e. delirium)--is a fortuitous mistake. And it echoes caw and awe in your Tuesday post. After the yaw, the caw inspires awe.

Miles said...

Glad to hear about this improvement, and you articulate it well. I can sometimes get lost in very simple musical moments, there is always more to hear if you open up.

David Gitin said...

Michael, My second attempt to leave a comment after decades out of touch (since Madison?). Good to see your spirit as you recover. Best to you, David