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Gabriel Kahane on the albums that changed his life

Gabriel Kahane on the albums that changed his life


The Album That Changed My Life is a premise that supposes that our tastes and artistic identities are forged in a single moment, like a match whose flame illuminates in an instant a once-dark chamber. For me, at least, revelation is a piecemeal process, one that accrues over time. To that end:

From Paul Simon’s Graceland and Fiona Apple’s Extraordinary Machine, I learned that the voice, too, is a percussive instrument.

From Glenn Gould’s 1955 recording of Bach’s Goldberg Variations I learned what it sounds like when sheer life force is committed to tape, and that the most modest musical idea may be woven into the most majestic tapestry when in the hands of a master.

From Duke Ellington’s Masterpieces by Ellington, I learned the meaning of the phrase “American Classical Music”.

From Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp A Butterfly, I learned that an album could be a radio play, a searing political disquisition, a bawdy comedy, and an astute autobiography, all at once.

From Leonard Bernstein’s recording of Mahler 9, I learned that there is such a thing as a too slow tempo.

Gabriel Kahane - November (Official Video)

From Joni Mitchell, I learned that the personal, undergirded by great psychological acuity, becomes universal.

From Punch Brothers’ Punch, and specifically Chris Thile’s The Blind Leaving the Blind, I learned of a new and vibrant chamber music that resonates from the humble instruments of the string band.

From Rufus Wainwright’s self-titled album, I learned to understand the value of great production (Jon Brion) and equally great arranging (Van Dyke Parks).

From Beyoncé’s self-titled album, I learned to wake up like this.

See Also

From Steve Reich’s Music for 18 Musicians, heard while driving through endless burnished rock in Utah’s Canyonlands National Park, I learned to see and hear God.

Islander presents composer, pianist, and singer, Gabriel Kahane’s debut Irish show at The Studio in the National Concert Hall, Dublin, 8.30pm this Tuesday 9th April 2019.

The day after the 2016 presidential election, singer-songwriter Gabriel Kahane boarded a train at Penn Station and traveled 8,980 miles around the continental U.S. with no phone or internet access, talking to dozens of strangers in an attempt to better understand his country and fellow citizens. The resulting album, Book of Travelers, marks Gabriel’s debut for Nonesuch Records. By turns sprawling and intimate, this collection of songs is at once a prayer for empathy and reconciliation, as well as an unflinching examination of the complex and often troubled history of the United States.

Gabriel has collaborated with many artists including Sufjan Stevens, Andrew Bird (he recently orchestrated and co-performed an evening for him with the Los Angeles Philharmonic), Chris Thile, Paul Simon, and many orchestras and chamber music ensembles.

Little Love - Gabriel Kahane

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