taking a page out of Julia's book....
Sometimes when you take a journey of sorts, you forget to include the things that you want to learn more about, instead of just catering to the masses and being as touristy as possible. But I don't believe a journey would be a journey without a touch of self-reflection.
Initially when I started the project, I spent so much time wondering what everyone else would give me....but what about myself? I get so lost in my musical niche that I forget to include the possibility of contributing my own ideas to stops along the way. It wasn't until I was a couple days into this project that I realized I also needed to provide a challenge for myself. Music that I would enjoy learning more about, yet I never had the chance to listen to.
While watching Julie & Julia for what felt like the 50th time, I started to think about French music from the 1940's and 1950's. Sure, I do love American music from the 40's and 50's, but just the thought of music in another language, it's something I've never considered listening to until now. I didn't know where to start with it, but I figured that with a little bit of research and some time, I had a good chance of coming across something I'd enjoy.
Starting with popular movies and glancing at their soundtracks, my first toe in the water started with Charles Trenet. The first time I had watched the movie French Kiss, I fell in love with the song Verlaine by Trenet. It was the scene where Kevin Kline and Meg Ryan's characters were dancing before Ryan went to try and win her ex-boyfriend back. Getting the chance to listen to a song outside of a movie was very enlightening, as it gave me the opportunity to hear the song in its entirety. And if there's one other thing I can admit about the idea of music in another language, it's the mellow mood it creates.
From just listening to the first song, I imagined myself outside on a deck with a glass of wine and lit candles, something that I find pertinent to good music: the ability to envision a moment you'd listen to that kind of music. There's a richness and decadence that comes from listening to French singers....a quality to the music that in today's music, has pretty much vanished. Then after listening to just one song, I located another Trenet classic, La Mer. And just like with the first pick, I was able to imagine a similar scenario. It was oddly comforting, despite the fact that I had no clue what the English translation was. All I knew is that I could find balance and harmony in the music....and possibly fell a little bit in love too.
My mother was helpful in my quest for French artists, especially when I told her about my project and what I hoped to accomplish. After explaining just how beauty and endearment of Trenet's music, she told me that if I truly wanted to appreciate French music, I would need to listen to Edith Piaf. And taking her suggestion, I dove even deeper into l'amour with this stop on my path.
As I started to listen to one of Piaf's signature songs, Hymne a l'amour, it dawned on me: even in life, it's important to come out of your comfort zone. With music, my tastes may be eclectic, yet I've always been drawn to certain types of music. And in this instance, I challenged myself with music that I may have never given a chance unless I started this project. We all tend to try and stay in what we feel is comfortable and safe, with no knowledge that there could be something better out there. It's just easier to hide and not take chances.....
But what then? If you don't start something and try to see it through, you'll never learn anything. Just like Julia Child was persistent in earning her degree from Le Cordon Bleu and writing a French cookbook for Americans, I realized that my own persistence in continuing to pursue new music that I stumble upon is just as important. It helps me grow, learn more about who I am as a person, and become that person I've always known I could be. I've found new things that cause me to break free and step outside my box. I feel like it will take me exactly where I need to be in my career.
And I'm sure that by the end of all of this, my iTunes account will be full of wonderful music....and probably bankrupt me.