Try Sleeping With a Broken Heart

The hardest part is going to bed at night with no one to talk to, no one to hold onto, no one to dream about.

This Alicia Keys song spends much of its time on the subdominant (the IV chord Bb; the song's in F).  Not quite the throbbing tension and release of V-I, more of a nagging ache that isn't overwhelming but never quite goes away either.  The melody hangs out in the do-re-mi vicinity (F-A) for most of the verse - listen to the rising major 3rd cry on "near me", "told me", "lonely".  It makes a leap all the way to sol (eg 2nd verse "you'd never LEAVE me), then centers around fa on the chorus - "tonight".   Fa, the 4th scale degree: again, less pomp and circumstance than sol the 5th, but with a quiet determination of its own. Determination: the repeated syncopated uphill climb of the bass... I will climb this hill again and again, finding "a way to make it without you."

Friends ease the suffering of visits from the Fairy of God-Awful Loneliness and other indignities as I perform this seemingly endless task of learning how to be alone (now that too many boring, time-consuming, and/or disappointing dates have made me choose to be so for a while).  Who am I when I'm at home?  How far am I willing to be pulled from my actor neutral in order to be in a relationship?  Figuring out how to be my own source of emotional support (tip: Cookies are not lunch). How and when to be ok with asking for a little help from my friends. 

Songs help, too.  I went with my friend soprano/conductor friend Alison Davy to a concert of the New York Festival of Song.  Pianist Steven Blier, one of NYFOS' founders, spoke of collaboration as he was introducing the Vaughan Williams song "Silent Noon" (I am paraphrasing what I got out of what he said; I never remember things verbatim): A great coaching session is often characterized by twofold silence.  The magic of collaboration lies in the fact that both parties are able to have thoughts they never would have been able to think alone.  The program included songs by Schubert, Gershwin, and Bob Dylan - and many more, but just to give you an idea of the range.  This is my happy place, a hall where people believe that collaboration is sacred, songs are important, and good music transcends genre boundaries.  It was magical.

songs fill my life like stars fill the night sky
collect them, one by one, like precious gems
decorate my life with song-jewels

heights and depths and simple pleasures
that words alone cannot express
and music alone cannot articulate

a marriage of words and music
more successful than many human marriages
one augments the other