Moments: Bells of New York City

I was sitting outside at Starbucks, where the music is muffled, and this song came on their sound system. I could barely make out the sound, but when I strained my ears, I could feel how the notes were moving. It's like the music you feel before the music you hear. I loved it instantly. It wasn't until a few minutes later that I found out it was by Josh Groban, on his new album being hawked relentlessly by Starbucks itself. Which goes to show you that just because something is hawked relentlessly doesn't mean it's not amazing.

I'm not really a huge Josh Groban fan. Or rather, I'm not really a fan of people saying things like, "I'm really into classical music - I own all of Josh Groban's songs!". Um...

Anyway. I love this song. It's almost perfect.

Great songs resonate on a lot of levels - and while this song would get points from me for talking about New York City - in this song, it's simply icing. The real heart of this song is the melody after the words have stopped - a melody that carries us into gray spaces which have no words, where the white-blue sky and the white-gray ground and the white-white fog begin to blur away the lines of the world, and everything fades away while pure motion carries out into the space.

This song is like looking through the frame of your window out onto a snow-covered landscape - what you desire to see is the landscape beyond the window - the window-frame itself only a pointer to the vastness beyond it. And when I hear this song, I want the window to be bigger, to be wide and clear and shiningly invisible. The song-structure is like the bars on the window, and I want the space the window only hints at in its shafts of light.

For me, the shutter slams shut right in the midst of the clearest view, at 1:13, when he raises his voice in kind of a minor interval. I'm sure a lot of people would tell me that this is a mark of artistry, subtly changing the mood at the peak. And the thing is, they're probably right. But what I want from this song is not cleverness or artistry, but to see more clearly what it is obscuring - the emotional landscape lying behind it.