wordless verbatim

I started asking questions, recently, about ways of knowing that do not relate to objective evidence. How can you tell a person by their smell? What music arrests movement because it defies reality, cutting into something inside of you that cannot be reached with language? Could we use a piece of music to create a sense of a person that could never be achieved with words?

I am currently writing a play about my grandmother. It is a verbatim theatre piece except that I never met her and I have no record of anything that she said.

I need, then, to work out how to make a person come alive that circumvents traditional ways of knowing and I think music might be a good place to start.

Below is the ongoing list of suggestions of music that cuts into the body, reaching something that is otherwise impregnable. Any more suggestions are deeply welcome.

(I made a judicious decision to leave out Miley Cyrus’s ‘Party in The USA.’)

  1. George Gershwin – Rhapsody in Blue
  2.  Nine Simone – Feeling Good
  3. Edward Elgar – Cello Concerto in E Minor
  4. G.F. Handel – Largo (from Xerxes)
  5. Arvo Part – Cantus in Memory of Benjamin Britten
  6. Leonard Cohen – The Traitor
  7. Nick Cave – The Ship Song
  8. Nick Cave – Into My Arms
  9. Regina Spektor – Samson
  10. Albinoni – Adagio in G Minor
  11. Rufus Wainwright – Cigarettes and Chocolate Milk
  12. Wagner – Liebestod from Tristan and Isolde
  13. Samuel Barber – Adagio for Strings
  14. Barry White – Love’s Theme
  15. Yndi Halda – We Flood Empty Lakes
  16. The Beatles – Tomorrow Never Knows
  17. Tchaikovsky – Manfred Symphony
  18. John Adams – The Dharma at Big Sur
  19. John Coltrane – A Love Supreme
  20. Elgar – Nimrod (Enigma Variations)
  21. Ani DiFranco – You Had Time
  22. Purcell – When I Am Laid In Earth (Dido and Aeneas)
  23. The Beatles – Blackbird
  24. David Bowie – Quicksand
  25. Sibelius – Symphony No.5 in E Flat Major
  26. The Shins – New Slang
  27. Linda Perry and Grace Slick – Knock Me Out
  28.  Loudon Wainwright III – Carrickfergus
  29. Radiohead – No Surprises
  30. Lana Del Rey – Radio
  31. Beethoven – Symphony No. 7
  32. Camera – Break/Hands
  33. The Decemberists – January Hymn
  34. The Unthanks – Farewell Regality + Here’s The Tender Coming
  35. Schubert – The Shepherd on the Rock
  36. Vaughan Williams – The Lark Ascending
  37. The Pixies – Where Is My Mind?
  38. Joanna Newson – Jackrabbits
  39. Jarvis Cocker – Running the World
  40. Erik Satie – Gymnopedie No. 1
  41. Wang Fan – Give My Body To

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