U2 Gets Onto People’s Skin

Once upon a time, I was a fan of bands that gave me some kind of alternative cred. I have been to a ton of They Might Be Giants concerts, which places me solidly in the ranks of the nerds. I spent many years in love with R.E.M. and have listened to all of their […]

Birds and Songs and Bird Songs

I walked along the edge of a cliff. Under my feet, grass. To my right, a hundred-foot drop to the waters of the English Channel. A strong wind blew off the water and over the cliff, blowing the loose ends of hair in my face, obnoxiously. To my left was a field, planted with something […]

Holiday Redux: The Hidden Carols of England

LWON is celebrating the holidays by re-running some of our favorite posts. This post originally appeared in January 2014, and I thought it would be nice to give it another outing during the holidays. People have been singing Christmas carols in the pubs in villages around Sheffield, in the north of England, for hundreds of […]

Sounds of Summer

After my voice lesson Sunday afternoon, I heard bells. Eight bells, ringing on and on. My voice lessons are in the bowels of Washington National Cathedral – a real live Gothic cathedral, hand-carved over the last 107 years by bearded Englishmen, or at least the group included one bearded Englishman who lives in my neighborhood. […]

The Hidden Carols of England

People have been singing Christmas carols in the pubs in villages around Sheffield, in the north of England, for hundreds of years. They sing week after week and year after year. Each pub has a season; in one, Christmas carols start on November 11 and continue until the first Sunday after Christmas. Every Sunday afternoon, […]

Singing Our Hearts Out

Recently I was rehearsing a glorious 16th-century motet with a group of 20 or so people. Haec dies quam fecit Dominus, the song begins. This is the day that the Lord has made; let us be glad and rejoice in it. It’s an Easter text and a lovely thought, whether or not you think the […]

Sleep Aids

Ahh, the 1960s. A simpler time when women wore pant-skirts and insomnia could be cured by the soothing sounds of Liadov’s Musical Snuff Box. Well, not quite. Flip open this album and you’ll find a two-page ad for a sleeping pill called Placidyl. The tagline reads: “But when music fails, you can rest assured with […]