“Music to Die For” is a not-uncommon expression but it makes me nervous since I'm among the people most likely to be a music fatality. This would happen when I'm driving and something comes on the radio that I haven't heard before that's so beautiful that it sucks up all my mental capacity. What's really sad is that I could easily take some innocents along with me, and they might hate music, which would be terribly unjust. It happened again this morning, but I survived and can tell you about an outstanding recording you've probably never heard of.

I can remember this happening a few times:

  • Coming way too fast down the M11 from Cambridge in a rented purple Opel, Arvo Pärt's Cantus in Memory of Benjamin Britten came on the BBC and I caught myself closing my eyes at 85mph to savor the fading tones of the church bell.
  • Somewhere on 101 south of San Jose they played David Lindley's version of Do You Want To Dance? off the album Very Very Greasy and I just about hit the median while conducting the guitar solo; don't laugh, it's easily one of the top five guitar breaks of all time.
  • Then there was the time driving down the 427 west of Toronto - a monster of a highway - the first time I heard Nirvana's Smells Like Teen Spirit, and stomped vigorously in sync with that huge guitar HONK in the middle of the instrumental break the second time it came around, unfortunately on the brake pedal, fortunately there was nobody behind me.
Joyous Light featuring Isabel Bayrakdarian

Then today I was driving to work and the CBC played a piece called You Are a Profound Mystery, voiceless Armenian-Orthodox liturgy sung by Isabel Bayrakdarian on a record called Joyous Light, and realized almost too late that while Ms. Bayrakdarian's voice may float like a legion of aetherial angels, I actually had to steer to get over the Cambie Street Bridge alive. It's a treasure.


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April 07, 2003
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