I left this one until later in the day to give people a chance to notice I put another short entry up earlier.
Winter is finally here. It's been snowing slightly on and off recently but finally that hard layer that won't vanish (probably) until spring is down, and sticking.
Again, finally. I much prefer winter to summer (although fall is my favourite). Every time I get one of those surveys I love I see that all or most of my friends pick summer over winter. I'm not sure why.
Summer has a boisterous maximalism to it that, for me, gets tiresome after a while. Oh, it's enjoyable at times, but after a few months I just want it to get cool again. Winter has bursts of activity, of course (and on that note, I need to make sure I go sledding with Ben this winter), but mostly it's quieter. And darker. And more still. And, of course, colder.
I like the cold, unless I have to wait in it (say for the bus). Then the ache seeps into my joints and I'm miserable. But other than that, I like the cold. Mainly because then I can retire to my warm apartment, blanket or bed to warm up. Which is always good.
is the album that most feels like winter to me. There's an icy perfection to it (and that's not a slam), but something warm at the core. I never listen to it unless there's snow on the ground, except for a few songs. But when it's cold out, the choir and the harp and the music box and the swell and surge of the songs is a near-constant companion. I have yet to get into the rest of her stuff (although I have a copy of Homogenic
around here somewhere), but even if I hate it all I'd still have a place in my heart for Ms. Gudmundsdottir's work here. She describes it as "about being on your own in your house with your laptop and whispering for a year and just writing a very peaceful song that tiptoes," and that comes through.
But it's also, as many critics noted at the time, an album of mostly love songs. That's the warmth at the heart of it all, from the big time sensuality (har) of 'Hidden Place' to the offer of 'Unison'. But all is not rosy; there's also 'It's Not Up To You'.
'It's Not Up To You' is not an angry song, or a sad one. It is lovely, through and through, especially the chorus, Bjork repeating "It's not up to you/No, it never really was" over the expansive sigh of the strings and the friendly bassline (I can't tell you why it's friendly, but that's how it feels). It's the response to an overeager suitor (because, of course, "If you leave it alone/It might just happen"), but it's not a kissoff either. Something still might happen. And Bjork isn't just talking to him; she's also addressing herself: "I can decide what to give/But it's not up to me/What I get given" she sings. I find the song worming it's way into my heart not just for its succint version of Stoic philosophy, but because that aspect of the lyrics turns the chorus from an admonishment into a compassionate reminder, to all of us, that it's not up to us. And that this isn't a bad thing.
Which is a lesson more of us could stand to learn.