Frisson, Vol. 9


Hello! Welcome back to Frisson. This week we’ll be listening to three songs that embody the idea of tranquility. When listening to these tracks, one should feel as if their mind, body, and soul. In other words, if you’re not feeling some extreme peace and good joojoos while tuning in to these hits, something may be seriously wrong with you. Anyways, let’s get into it! 

The first song we will be looking at today is “Shower the People” by James Taylor. This song came at number 1 on Taylor’s 1976 album In the Pocket. The music relies heavily on Taylor’s voice, along with an acoustic guitar and bongos. Occasionally there will be female backing voices, along with light piano runs to resemble chimes. The music itself is easy, free, and airy. Taylor’s lyrics are incredibly poetic. The song runs on the theme of life producing the energy you put into it. Taylor explains that life will only work out in your favor if you show your loved ones “the way that you feel”. Taylor pushes his listeners to “sell their pride” and, as the title states, “shower the people you love with love.” It is truly a beautifully peaceful song. 

“Lyricist Robert Hunter wrote ripple” by the Grateful Dead after he supposedly drank a full bottle of retsina (a greek wine), so it’s obvious why this song is as relaxed and calming as it is. The piece lands at number 6 on the Dead’s album American Beauty. The music, written by Jerry Garcia, is tear-jerking. The song begins with two guitar lines: one strumming the light melody, the other plucking away to a folk styled line. The drumline is incredibly soft as well. There is no heavy bass line or overbearing beat. It is merely an easy accompaniment for the vocals that carry almost biblical lyrics. Every line is milky with meaning. Lyrics such as “There is a road, no simple highway Between the dawn and the dark of night.” are incredibly poetic and calming. Their imagery is paralyzingly gorgeous. 

The final song of tranquility we’ll be exploring is “Into the Mystic” from Van Morrison’s 1970 album, Moondance. Like the other two songs before, “Into the Mystic” relies heavily on a soft acoustic guitar sound to be its musical bones. However, unlike the other two, Morrison uses a shaker as his central percussion. He also uses a small horn section, as well as a jazz piano line in the chorus. The song has incredible builds, from low, peaceful verses to intense, hopefully, upbeat choruses. The song is not only soothing but also inspiring. Morrison writes that he never truly knew his song’s meaning, that his music was simply “rock and roll” and nothing else. However, his lyrics speak a very different message. They seem to explore the idea of venturing headfirst into the unknown, a scary but necessary act all humans must endure. It is an incredibly inspiring and heartfelt tune.

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