There are some songs which are incredibly close to me. I resonate so closely with them that they are not so much something I enjoy–but a defining element of my emotional core. Like the books you read growing up which you not only remember fondly but strive to fulfill. I’d like to write a little bit about these songs, and try to understand why.

Nik Olendzki, a good friend and fellow Aikidoist at Carleton, introduced me to Carbon Leaf. It was a regular part of the soundtrack at The Quad of Flying Daggers–I remember it echoing from beer-encrusted laminate flooring as you rounded the top flight of stairs, still bundled up in winter coats. The first time I heard it everyone in the room stopped and listened, for a minute, just to reflect.

I feel like a kite high in a tree
Is this where I'm suppose to be?
I wish I was a little boy
When love was taken care of

I took a copy home that winter and lay on the bed, watching the wind sweep the Douglas Firs in waves past the window. It’s a rainy-day story: one about being a kid, obviously, but also a poem of loss and recovery.

The recovery is mirrored in the structure of the song. Over ten minutes, it develops from restrained blue guitar into a brassy, free-form exploration full of distortion, fluttering effects, and carefree high notes. The progression of instrumental layers is so carefully controlled that when the final chorus breaks free, the relief is palpable. It’s like leaving the confines of the room after hours of rain and running triumphantly down the street. The sun is out and shining on every wet leaf.

The rest of Echo Echo is well worth the price, though its character tends to be brighter and uptempo than the introduction of Maybe Today would suggest.

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