The other night I got asked a really hard question. "What's your favorite song?"
Coming up with the short list wasn't that hard. But number one? The criteria for number one is "What makes me weep every time I hear it?" I have to go with "Knee 5" from the opera "Einstein on the Beach" by Philip Glass and Robert Wilson.
It seems a lot of people have heard of Philip Glass, but aren't that familiar with his music - I often find myself making recommendations of where to start with him. Some of his stuff is not super-accessible, some is downright challenging. Some is the most transportive and moving thing I've ever experienced. Here's a toe-dip. I chose a few pieces I think will show anyone what all the fuss is about. Turns out the easiest way to share it is a blog post, so now I'll always have a place I can send people who ask.
A Gentleman’s Honor
from The Photographer
The Photographer is an opera inspired by the life of Edweard Muybridge. Muybridge is best known for proving that there's a moment in a horses gallup where all four hooves are off the ground - inadvertently inventing the basis for motion film photography. But his life was even more interesting than that. A bad head injury had made him a bit nuts. Upon discovering the father of his wife’s child was not him, he walked into a bar and introduced himself to the man who was. Then shot him dead.
from Einstein on the Beach
Einstein on the Beach put Philip Glass on the map. It’s a 5 hour opera without a break, completely abstract and surreal from start to finish.
This is the last 8 minutes.
We just dropped the bomb, and it’s dawning on us that we really really fucked up.
Some find the first few minutes challenging. Hang in there.
This film changed my life.
It's the fall of 1981. Sheltered, suburban 17-year-old me just got dropped off at art school. Me and a few girls from my dorm went to see our first "art film". I sat stunned at its conclusion, having spontaneously become an artist, an environmentalist and a devoted fan of Philip Glass. It remains my favorite film of all time.
It's pretty much a 90-minute music video.
Side note: the opening of the film features footage of the rock art shown at left. I decided when I first saw the film that I would go see it. That didn't happen until my 50th birthday - in 2013. If you want to go, or see more photos, I blogged about that trip here.
Turns out the film is on the YouTubes in 9 separate 10-minute videos. Watch the first one below. Or turn off the lights, light up a fatty and watch the whole thing.