Little kids love dinosaurs, bugs and exploring the woods. Science doesn't scare them; they find it fun — until 9th grade. That's when most of us take our first biology class and everything changes. That's when we learn, not because we choose to, but because we know it might be on The Test, and too often, curiosity gets replaced by fear.
Later this week, Radiolab goes to northeastern Alabama in our new hour-long podcast. For more on that part of our country, and for one of the most honest American memoirs out there, pick up Rick Bragg's All Over but the Shoutin'.
A specific memory colors this song for me. About five years ago, my wife and I traveled to Japan for a wedding, and during the ceremony, the couple played a photo slide show of their Happy Moments (beach kissing, the proposal, painting the house, etc)... sort of your classic slightly-cheesy but sweet wedding video. But what made this one over the top beautiful and moving and at the same time funny was the accompanying music. This song. "I Saw the Bright Shinies." I downloaded it that night, and then a whole bunch of others from The Octopus Project. They're that rare math rock band that still remembers to rock. And they have a good sense of humor. I hope you enjoy this song. If you like it, definitely check out their new album, Hexadecagon.
In the summer of 1983, Antony Sher got word that he was in line to play one of the most evil characters in literature--Shakespeare's murderous King Richard III. He spent the next year of his life getting ready for the role--turning himself into the "bottled spider," and turning his ambitions, doubts, and inspirations into a stunning account of the inner life of an actor.
I’m really proud to feature Max Richter for this week’s download. Max is my favorite film composer. He writes these beautiful small pieces that take you into the emotional depths of a moment or a character.
I use him as a guide for scoring this show. Constantly. Like: when I’m stuck scoring a piece and I just can't get the mood or feeling right (which is often) what I’ll do, to hit the reset button, is listen to Max Richter’s 24 Postcards In Full Colour and ask myself, what would Max do here? Sparse piano cords? Subterranean strings?
His music seems to live in the place our stories are always striving to get to – awe, mystery, transformation, illumination. Yeah, I’m pretty much a Max Richter-hack.
"Infra 1" is the first track from an album he released last year called Infra. It’s on the quieter, more fragile end of his spectrum, which is the stuff of his I tend to like most. I hope you enjoy this piece.
In our Animal Minds episode, we met a group of divers who rescued a humpback whale, then shared a really incredible moment...a moment in which the divers are convinced that the whale found a way to say thank you. We obviously can't know for sure, and that question--how well can we really know the minds of animals?--was at the heart of the show.
Zoe Keating is a friend of the show. We've performed live with her around a dozen times, give or take. And on our last tour (Symmetry), Zoe would often play this piece, Optimist, which she wrote for her son Alex when he was negative four months old. Every time, the audience fell into a trance. Those are the moments from the tour I really remember, getting to sit quietly on stage and watch the audience watch Zoe.
This whole novel takes place in a few minutes, in a quiet room drenched with late-afternoon sun. As the narrator of Room Temperature feeds his baby daughter, he lets his mind wander—and you get to wander with him, through tiny revelations about nose-picking and green dresses and childhood crimes and mobiles made of paint chips.
When I first heard this song, I went into one of those strange deliriums that happen to me once a decade, and I played the song fifteen times in a row, no joke. I’ve since heard from a few other people who’ve had the same reaction. There’s something narcotic about the way the song builds, and about what’s being described – people trying to fake their way to being good. But I won’t bore you with my thoughts. Just listen to it. Let me know if this song does to you what it does (still does, now 7 years later) to me.