Culture

Music Experience: John Coltrane’s “A Love Supreme”

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A Preface to ‘Musical Experiences’

My entire life has been spent inside the stew of music, slowly letting it, by osmosis, steep and become a part of myself.  Without music, my being would be lacking real substance.  So to express myself on the subject of music seems only a natural thing to do on this blog.  My intention is to find a work of music and live in it, let it shape me, and talk about this experience; hence the title “music experience”.    Now please understand, this is not meant to be a review of any sort.  I do not wish to critique someone else’s piece of art.  Rather, decipher the feelings a certain work elicits.  Meant to be just a short taste, my hope is to broaden my musical horizon as well as present pieces of music to you in a new way.

With that said, I would like to introduce my experience with John Coltrane’s “A Love Supreme”.

A Love Supreme

My husband Jazz and I were having a conversation when he told me a story about a lecture he had watched by Peter Heltzel and Cornell West on ‘Improvisational Theology’.  Heltzel somehow managed to get the entire room to start singing  the four note mantra from the first song on “A Love Supreme”.

You see, I am a huge fan of jazz (both my husband and the musical genre) and have been for a very long time.  Due to Coltrane’s influence and classical jazz presence, it is a little redundant to say you love jazz and John Coltrane.  Nevertheless, Coltrane melts my bones.  So although I was enchanted by Jazz’s story, as I always am, I was experiencing an ocean of guilt and shame -not to mention embarrassment- because I had never listened to this album before.    That’s when I decided to feature Coltrane’s hit album as my first music experience.

Released in 1964, Coltrane had recently parted ways with Miles Davis and kicked his heroin addiction; leaning toward spiritual awakening, a huge influence for this record.  Rated among the top 50 albums of all time by Rolling Stone Magazine, “A Love Supreme” was certified “gold” by the RIAA and is considered his monumental work.  You can more about John Coltrane here.

I listened to this four part album while eating breakfast with Willow on a snowy morning.  It seemed to be the perfect setting for said experience.  Meant to bring a sense of spiritual height, the large white snowflakes and creamy eggs seemed to enhance the album’s spiritual leanings.

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The feeling of joy poured through the music and even Willow was dancing with the energy of the first iconic song, “Acknowledgment”.  I felt thankful that I was able to experience this with my daughter.

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The drum solo in the introduction of the third song grabbed me back into the music.  I caught Willow glance over at my phone and just stare for several seconds.  It was a kind of a midpoint reminder of what was happening, a call to be present in the moment.

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The fourth and last song, “Psalm” is this spooky yet sorrowful song that extracts a feeling of struggle.  I found it deeply moving and went back to it again after I finished the album.

Please, I beg you, make some space in your life to listen to this album.  Listen over dinner with your honey or in the car on the way to work.  If you’ve listened to it before, listen to it again with new ears.  The overall energy and feeling of exuberance will leave you feeling refreshed and challenged in a way that words really cannot express.

Creative Commons License
Keeping Willow by Stacy Feyer-Salo is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

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