Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Illustration for article titled Blue days call for blues from Ethiopiques’ best volume

In Hear ThisA.V. Club writers sing the praises of songs they know well—some inspired by a weekly theme and some not, but always songs worth hearing. This week, because there are new Coldplay and Conor Oberst records, songs we put on when we want to mope.


I used to be a real moper, but I’m not so much anymore. I don’t know if it’s getting older, getting on prescription drugs, or whatever, but I never really throw on a song in an attempt to bury myself under covers and wallow. If I’m down, I more or less just want to be alone, watch bad TV, and eat cake. In the absence of those options, though, sometimes I’ll use music either as an attempt to make my brain turn off or to snap me out of my grumpiness.

In most of those cases—and when I’m really stuck while writing, weirdly enough—I’ll throw on my favorite disc in the Ethiopiques series: volume 21, the piano jazz record by Emahoy Tsegué-Maryam Guèbrou, who also happens to be an Ethiopian nun. Right from the first track, “The Homeless Wanderer,” the record gets me in a solemn, meditative mood. My body and brain pretty easily fall into the rhythms of Guèbrou’s lackadaisical playing, but the complex phrasings in the songs keep me from turning off entirely. It’s like the aural equivalent of a warm Jacuzzi, and it serves to both calm me down and mellow me out. By the time the record’s over, I’m completely calm, cool, and collected, and totally clear of any undue sadness.

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