Thursday, April 10, 2014

Up All Night: A Paternity Leave Soundtrack

Up All Night: A Paternity Leave Soundtrack
Three weeks in and Jenny and I have developed our routine in re getting Rosie to sleep. It involves putting the sweet little nugget of joy in her crib, where she sleeps in three to four hour stretches, wakes up to feed, and goes right back to sleep! What a perfect baby, amirite?! Haha. Just kidding. She rarely sleeps, and when she does, the only way she will stay asleep for a two-hour stretch is sprawled out on my chest in the IKEA chair next to her crib. We do this from about 9PM to 3 or 4 AM or whenever I can’t stay awake any longer and I’m assured Jenny at least got a few hours of meaningful sleep in between feedings. Basically, it’s just like in the movies. It’s like every parenting stereotype you’ve ever heard. Thinking about having kids? You best be able to easily adapt.

On the plus side, it’s brought Jenny and I closer together. We’re like a couple of doughboys in the trenches, fighting for survival. Constantly trying new methods and tricks in an effort to get our daughter to sleep on her own. Our mantra is this: Three Months. In three months, everything will be much, much better. She will be out of her fourth trimester where she’s basically still a fetus and will have blossomed into a cooing, smiling, toe-sucking toddler. That’s the dream, right?

Anyway, these long stretches of serving as a human bassinet have given me a lot of really rewarding daddy-daughter bonding time with the added perk that I get six hours to catch up on reading all the great books I have lying around the house. Just kidding. I’ve been trying to finish Dune for weeks and every night I take it to the little makeshift end table next to the chair and every night I just sit there and play FTL: Faster Than Light or 2048 on the iPad (it’s not all for nothing, however, because I am now REALLY good at those games).

Right before Rosie was born I invested in a cheap-yet-wonderful Bluetooth speaker that serves as the bedroom’s stereo system. Since I can’t very well listen to the Hold Steady at 2AM with a slumbering infant sprawled across my torso threatening to wake up at the slightest twitch/sound. So I’ve loaded up my iPhone with the quietest music I could find on my computer. It’s quite actually quite nice once you get past the exhaustion. Here are some of the greatest hits.

Vashti Bunyan – Lookaftering
Jenny loves the soulful, folky ladies and in the first days we had Rosie, this album was playing constantly. Just so lovely and calming.

Gillian Welch – Time (The Revelator)

Once the Vashti Bunyan wore out, Jenny started listening to Gillian Welch nonstop. This album, in addition to Soul Journey and Revival, is still what plays throughout the day. These albums are so great I’ll even put them on in the middle of the night.

Iron and Wine – The Creek Drank the Cradle

It’s hard to find a more sonically peaceful record in my collection. Iron and Wine was the first thing I put on the phone for these late night sessions.

Sufjan Stevens – Seven Swans

I’m not religious, but I love it when musicians examine their faith in song. On Seven Swans Sufjan Stevens filters the Bible through his personal life and where they intersect. It’s a gorgeous, deeply personal album that subsists almost entirely on banjo and huge vocal harmonies. It’s actively unadorned compared to his extravagance “50 States Project” albums Greetings from Michigan and Illinois (I culled the quietest tracks from those albums and they usually round out a particularly nice hour of ouri evenings).

Papa M – Whatever, Mortal
Whatever, Mortal is a masterpiece from David Pajo, one of indie rock’s most legendary journeymen. His work with Slint, Tortoise, and the For Carnation established him as a pro, but his solo work as Papa M, Aerial M, and as Pajo is where he is at his best. Whatever, Mortal is his best album. It filters the post-rock leanings of his former bands through a folky lens and the results are breathtakingly lovely and honest.

Nick Drake – Pink Moon


Sun Kil Moon – Benji

Last but not least is a massive chunk of Mark Kozelek’s complete discography from Red House Painters to Sun Kil Moon to his self-titled efforts. This is bedtime music for weirdos. His music is the bulk of what I listen to because it’s the quietest and his discography is absolutely fascinating. His latest album, this year’s Benji, is pure, unfiltered, rambling storytelling brimming with heartbreak and tragedy. Going from the straight-forward folky tunes from Red House Painters’ Songs for a Blue Guitar to this new raw shit, you get an interesting portrait of this dude.

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