Playlist: Waters of March

Next up in my exploration of the Best Playlist Ever is Waters of March from Nicole Henry:

The rhythm you hear is called Bossa Nova (literally, “New Trend,” which is kind of funny since the last time it was a new trend was around 1950). As a rule, if you hear a Bossa Nova song, it was written by Antônio Carlos Jobim. Seriously. Every Bossa Nova you’ve ever heard was written by him: Desifinado, Wave, Dindi, The Girl from Ipanema (you would recognize all those songs, even if you don’t know them by their titles). And even though this song doesn’t sound old, it too was written by Jobim way back in 1972.

Part of the reason it doesn’t sound old is because it is being sung by a hot young jazz diva. That’s an example of the anachronism of the playlist: old songs performed in new ways by young artists. (Jamie Cullum being another example, who I looked at already.) The other reason it doesn’t sound old is harder to put my finger on. I guess it’s more over-produced than your typical Bossa Nova from 1972. Or something. Anyway, it sounds fresh, and if I hadn’t told you that it was an old song, I’m quite certain you wouldn’t have guessed that.

I was talking with a friend on twitter and she mentioned ASMR (autonomous sensory meridian response), which is the fancy name for chills you get when you hear certain music. And the next day as I was listening to this song—loud—I had those ASMR chills. It happens right when the bass comes in at the end of the first stanza. I recommend getting this song onto a device where you can hear it with some really cranking bass.

The lyrics are fascinating. I’ve heard them described as a “collage” which is about right. Or maybe a mosaic. Close your eyes as you listen. Picture each thing Jobim names. It’s crazy. Sometimes they are connected—”the foot, the ground, the flesh, the bone”—and sometime they are just… weird: “a truckload of bricks in the soft morning light, the shot of a gun in the dead of the night.” Huh?

The song is transcendent. Beautiful. Interesting. And, being a Bossa Nova, it inspires dancing. Of course, if you don’t have a dance partner at the moment, that can be a little sad…

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