Sit Still and Shut Up

This is the new Great Lake Swimmers video, called Stealing Tomorrow, from their live session recorded in the Royal Canadian Legion Hall.  I have always liked Great Lake Swimmers in a tepid sort of way.  They can be beautiful, but there are times when I have found them a little boring, I have to confess.

I learned an important lesson about that, though, from Sam Amidon a couple of years ago.  When Campfires & Battlefields (long-time Toad reader and contributor) first introduced me to All Is Well I liked it, but I never fell in love with it anything like I did when he played to a spellbound Bowery crowd in 2008.  There was something about the silence in between the notes, of which he plays very few, listening to them gently die into silence and the emphasis on the rather brutal lyrics, which absolutely knocked me sideways.  I rarely listen to music in such intense isolation.

Ever since then I have to remind myself how little genuine attention I give to music.  I listen at work whilst doing my job, whilst walking through town, whilst deciding whether or not to write about it, and on the bus to work in the morning.  Little of that is ever done with absolute full attention, devoid of any distractions.  In fact, that’s why I like vinyl.  I don’t care too much about the crakles or that kind of stuff, and I am not an audiophile in particular, but I love that it is very hard to do other things whilst listening to records on vinyl.  You almost have to pay attention.

A friend of mine here at work saw the Great Lake Swimmers in Glasgow a while ago and said that they were stunning.  Watching that gorgeous video I find myself reminded a little of the Sam Amidon gig, and what Andy told me about Great Lake Swimmers.  It’s so slow and lovely that I feel I might be missing the point of the band if I don’t go and sit down and listen to them with the shutters closed and nothing around me.  I’ve listened to all of our releases like this – just sitting in the middle of the floor, facing the speakers, and soaking it in.

Neither you nor I will have time to do this very often, to sit and just soak music in like this, but every now and then a band comes along who remind me how satisfying and important a thing this is to do.  I am going to go and see the Great Lake Swimmers live before I say anything else uncharitable about them.  Their new album is on eMusic here, if you’d like to give it a try.

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