Today’s FTW: The universal language of music

Alrighty, pals & gals, as a small breather from the usual news/political stuff, I thought I’d throw in some entertainment for ya on this Friday morning. I had some writing to do today (the paid kind, thankfully) and I had my music on shuffle in the background while I was working. I noticed that many of the songs that happened to come up were either instrumentals, or songs sung in a language other than English. That got me to thinking how universal the language of music really is. Music is such an inclusive thing, and it’s one of the only things that truly travels freely, across borders and oceans, to be shared and enjoyed by almost everybody.

A few of the things that came up on my shuffle this morning were things I couldn’t find on YouTube, but here is an approximate recreation of the global sounds I enjoyed today. Hope you will have some fun listening to them as well.

Explosions In The Sky – Your Hand In Mine

You may recognize this group because they provided the music on the TV series Friday night Lights. They do only instrumental songs, and they have a very atmospheric sound which I can easily lose myself in.


Andrea Bocelli – Con Te Partiro

I was fortunate enough to visit Italy once, and this song reminds me of my journey there. For sentimental reasons, I like this song a lot. But it also reminds me of the culture I come from as an Italian-American, and I love the emotion of it.


Garth Hudson – Feed The Birds

Garth Hudson is a multi-instrumentalist who was once a member of classic rock legends The Band. This track is from what is probably my favorite album of all freakin’ time, Stay Awake. It’s a compilation album of some really diverse artists (Tom Waits, Sun Ra, Bonnie Raitt and Michael Stipe, to name but a handful), covering songs from the soundtracks of classic Disney films. Not the crappy ones, with the Celine Dion stuff on it, but the old-school soundtracks. This song comes from Mary Poppins, and is done as an instrumental. It has the most gorgeous, sorta-dreamy, sorta-sad sound to it, and I love it.


Miriam Makeba – Khawuleza

The version I have of this song is different; it comes from an album that Miriam Makeba did with Harry Belafonte. But this version is cooler, because it is part of a longer segment on a Swedish TV show from 1966, and it includes a second song and a great little interview that discusses apartheid in South Africa, Makeba’s home country. It provides some context for the song, which is about police harassment in the black neighborhoods of South Africa during that era. Khawuleza is the first thing on this clip, so you can listen to it and skip the interview if you aren’t up for the rest of it.


Aaron Copland – Simple Gifts (from Appalachian Spring)

I don’t like breaking up this piece, since I consider Appalachian Spring to be among my favorite American compositions. But since you don’t have that kind of time, I’ve found a segment that is especially lovely. It’s not ideal, because it’s truncated and you can’t hear the flow of the whole thing, but for the most part this stands alone quite well. If America was a piece of music, I think this is the piece of music it might be.


Youmi Kimura – Itsumo Nando Demo (Always With Me)

This is the closing theme to a movie that I love, the animated masterpiece Spirited Away by Hayao Miyazaki. My daughter and I share this film as one of our favorites, and this song is something else we share. It always reminds me of her when I hear it. And it’s very beautiful, just like she is.


Sigur Rós – Heima

Sigur Rós are from Iceland, and they often sing in a made-up language called Hopelandic (it sounds like Icelandic but it’s really nothing in particular). The idea was to use the voice as another instrument, not for communicating specific concepts but rather for creating sounds along with the other instruments being used. The listener could then insert their own meaning into the song. The title of this song is an actual Icelandic word (meaning home or homeland), and the sound of the song definitely reminds me of somewhere safe, comfortable and familiar.


Te Iti Kahurangi

I have no idea what the name of this song actually is. And it isn’t one I own – the song that came up on my shuffle is one from a world music album I bought ages ago, and can no longer find for sale. But like the tune I heard on my player today, it’s a song by a Maori group from New Zealand. The style of the singing always made an impression on me, as it is done in a large choir according to traditional arrangements. This example of kapa haka (Maori-style performing arts) was a really good one. The vocalists are exceptional and it’s just gorgeous and soulful to listen to.


Celia Cruz – Quimbara

I’ve heard me some Celia Cruz in my time, since I live in South Florida and attended school in Miami for nearly 5 years. I don’t know what she’s singing most of the time, and I don’t care. My ass don’t need a translator, it just knows to get on up and start shakin’ when Miss Celia sings.  Happy Friday, y’all. ¡Azúcar!  🙂



2 thoughts on “Today’s FTW: The universal language of music

    • OK, since I know you like Tom Waits…he’s on that Stay Awake album that I mentioned in the post, covering the Dwarves Song from Snow White (aka Heigh-Ho). It is CLASSIC. Just totally twisted. You may know it already, but if you don’t, it’s onYouTube. If you haven’t heard it, go look at it right now, seriously. 🙂 And I’m hoping you like some of the other stuff I posted, since you obviously have extraordinary taste in music. 😉

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