As a kid, whenever I got a new album (yes, one of those big, black plastic things), I would put it on my parents’ record player, turn it up, and lie on the living room rug to read every lyric and every liner note on the album cover. Double-extra-bonus excitement if there was stuff on the dust sleeve or – be still my heart – and extra booklet! I loved knowing every single word and even better, the story behind the music.
So after a week of playing with the Airborne routine, here are my liner notes.
Dance on. Shine on.
Airborne ~ Liner Notes
Big Sky – 4:04 – Annie Lennox
Annie Lennox’s voice is like power and tenderness wrapped in a passionate package. All the lyrics of this song are beautiful and evocative, but in particular:
I slipped through
The vortex of the sky
Darkness and light
Is what’s inside
Listen for my favorite part — her “woo” as if she is catching her breath.
Down To Earth – 5:59 – Peter Gabriel
As some of you know (since I mention it pretty much every time I use his music in class), I’m a big Peter Gabriel fan and he is my pretend boyfriend (of which I have several – turns out I’m a pretend shameless hussy). I have loved this song since I heard it in the movie Wall-E. I’ve been looking for a way to use it in Nia for a while and this feels like the right fit. With its theme of environmentalism and grounded, waltzing beat, it’s a song that reminds me of the preciousness of life on the planet:
We’re coming down
Comin’ down to earth
Like babies at birth
Comin’ down to earth
Redefine your priorities
These are extraordinary qualities
The Fire From Within – 4:12 – Tryptamoon
This song’s waves of giggles and reminders to breathe (in French and English) combines with waves of sound to ride and play on.
Water Down the Ganges – 7:10 – Prem Joshua & Manish Vyas
The simple yet rich and layered patterns in this meditative, Eastern-influenced music invite variations on simple movement themes.
Freedom – 2:50 – Tyrone Wells
I first heard this song when I ran into Kroger to pick something up one morning. It stopped me in the aisle and I scribbled the lyrics that I could catch on my grocery list. I tracked down the song as soon as I got home and had it choreographed by lunch.
Nothing But The Water (II) – 5:19 – Grace Potter & The Nocturnals
A friend turned me on to the passionate music of Grace Potter a couple of years ago. I love this song’s rocking spiritual feel and have done my best to reflect it in the choreography with swinging movements through the three planes…plus some rock solid balancing.
I’m Alive (Life Sounds Like) – 3:52 – Michael Franti
Ultimately, the practice of Nia is about aliveness. Michael Franti’s whistling, “whoa” song celebrates life in all its complexity. This song is a joy-fest as far as I’m concerned. And if you haven’t seen the fan mashup video, well sit yourself down and enjoy…and be sure to watch it to the very, very end.
Sunchyme – 3:54 – Dario G.
Dario G was an English dance and trance group in the late 90s and this song is based on a sample from The Dream Academy’s Life in a Northern Town. I can’t resist music that makes me want to dance and sing!
Breathe – 4:17 – Telepopmusik
This song is full of delicious sounds from the slightly muffled, scratchy-phonograph vocal to the rhythmic snip-snaps to the bouncy, electric bubbles. Perfect for playing with the meditation of music and movement. And, hey!, the lyrics are right in line with the focus:
But there’s nothing to do but believe
Dust in the Wind – 3:30 – Daughter Darling
In 1977 I was in 8th grade and my English teacher used the lyrics of Kansas’ Dust in the Wind to illustrate poetry of mortality and the inevitability of death. I was already a lyric lover (as mentioned above), but having a teacher recognize the poetry in the music I listened to, as well as the realization of the weightiness of the song stuck with me. Twenty-five years later, Daughter Darling covered my beloved junior high ballad beautifully. The wistful but urgent vocals and the melancholy strings feel like wind.
Feel It All – Band Jam – 3:50 – KT Tunstall
There are so many things I love about this song from KT Tunstall’s latest album. The imagery of nature — seeds and rain, branches and snow, birds and eagles – align with the elemental focus of the routine. This is the “band jam” version of the song which reminds me that even though Tunstall makes great music when she’s alone with her looping machine, there is richness when music is made together. But most importantly, the chorus reflects one of the foundations of mindful practice: we are here to feel it all.
Child Come Home – 3:29 – Jamie Catto
Jamie Catto is my hero and mentor. On the front edge of my sabbatical last year, Jamie talked me down from the ledge and invited me to explore new ways of making art in the world. This song is an unpublished — one that he sent me after our conversation. I am grateful to him for the personal connection he made with me and for the art he offers us all.
Jai Radha Madhav – 6:27 – Deva Premal
Deva Premal’s beautiful version of the Jai Radha Madhav mantra transcends language. Even if we don’t understand the Sanskrit she sings, we understand the message: love is space.