From the strange summer of 2009, a short piece on music and life:

I have developed a raging crush on someone, and I am unable to communicate with him in any sort of normal, human way. This is how it goes every time I see him:

Man: Hi, Sofia, how was—


Man: …errr…


Man: …I have to go talk with my friend now.

The good thing is that I am so awkward, and it makes both of us so uncomfortable, that I’m starting to find it funny. In fact, yesterday evening, at the end of a performance I went to, I said to him, “Hey, I was thinking, that since every time I see you, I say something awkward, we could just practice, and get it out of the way at the beginning.” He laughed.

Here’s my theory of harmony singing: if I’m singing along to a song I don’t know, I have to make my best guess about where the melody is going, and harmonize to that. If my guess turns out to be right, my harmony sounds pretty with the melody. If my guess turns out to be dissonant to the melody, then I’m singing a passing tone, on the way to the “right” note.

Passing tones are those little notes in a song where the harmonies sound a bit dissonant — it makes you feel tense to hear it, and you feel a need to resolve it. And, when the harmony goes back to sounding pretty, you feel this great sense of relief and beauty.

So maybe life is the same way. It’s either “right”, or it’s a passing tone. And, passing tones are “right,” too — in fact, some of the most exquisite moments in music that I’ve sung have been the passing tones. And both kinds of harmonies resolve at the end.

So maybe I can relax a little.


Why I Love Children’s Books

When I look over the books I have bought in the last year, it seems that none of them are intended for readers over the age of twelve. From Andrew Lang’s Red, Green, and VioletFairy Books, to Norton Juster’s The Phantom Tollbooth, to C.S. Lewis’ The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, there is much in the way of good reading, but little in the way of reading for the post-pubescent. It has gotten so that when I browse in the adult section of a bookstore, it is more out of a sense of duty and obligation than out of interest. My real love is children’s books.

Sometimes I have theorized that my unusual addiction to kiddie lit is the result of some strange psychological quirk, but if so, I’d rather stay abnormal for the rest of my life than lose this love. Children’s books are many things to me. They comfort me, they educate me, and they are constant, long-abiding companions. Whenever I travel, it is a children’s book that accompanies me on the journey, and helps to make it a journey for the spirit as well as for the body.

Many people think that if a book is written for children, it is therefore light and unimportant, but I find the opposite to be true. As Madeleine L’Engle has said, children need life’s great imponderables explained just as much as the rest of us — and what’s more, they need them explained clearly and simply enough that they can understand them. The result is often books such as Madeleine L’Engles A Ring of Endless Light or Katherine Paterson’s Bridge to Terabithia, both of which deal with death, life, and hope. These books, and many others like them, go through a process not unlike fruits being made into jam; they are boiled and condensed and stirred until only the sweet essence remains. These books are not lesser versions of adult books; they are greater.

Each time I reread a book from my childhood, I am at a different point in my life, and I read it with new insight and a new perspective . Over the years, this effect has become cumulative, and when I read a book which I’ve read many times before, I also remember all the different incarnations of myself that have read it in the past. Just as children’s books are written in different levels and layers for their different audiences, so my own readings become multilayered, as rereading a book allows me to look through all the different layers of Me’s that I have been. As I grow, these books and these stories grow with me. They have guided me through my childhood and adolescence; I look forward to many years of their teaching me how to live as an adult, while always striving for the clarity to see the world through a child’s eyes.



♫ Dark Matter

Buy Dark Matter on iTunes

Dark Matter 

(c) Sofia Echegaray, 2003 

You are my dark matter

My star was born in you

When you held me tight

I thought your heat was light

Radiating night: Eremite

You’re surrounded by young galaxies

All of them just sitting at your knees

Hoping that someday someone might please

I prayed you’d shine some night on me

It’s dark but I never fail

To see you by your spectral trail

The ghosts of women taking up the veil

Your ghosts will always walk with you

Your dark-eyed luminosities

Told me truth that you could never see

Told me you loved me

I prayed you’d shine some night on me

♫ Here We Are

Here We Are

(c) Sofia Echegaray, 2010

I saw a man with eyes like yours

shopping in the supermarket aisle

I couldn’t move, I stared

thinking for a little while

Oh my Mind, cease and desist,

leave me alone and just relent

But no, my God made me like this

Here we are again

Here we are again

You come as you are

You with your need

Open me up

And leave me to bleed

You took to the sea on a ship of sighs

and you sailed away

Your love was a moonless night

I was a child, waiting to see the light


You got eyes like a saint

in some painting

Suffering without complaint and

You’ve got skin

Smooth as a getaway

And my love was a wine-dark sea

Oh would you drown

If you could drown

in me?


♫ Cigarette

(c) Sofia Echegaray, 2008

I ain’t seen you yet
Holding onto me the way
You hold that cigarette

At the end of your long hands
At the end of your long day
You need something from that burning
Makes me want to say:
Hold me like you hold that cigarette
Hold me like you hold that cigarette

You touch and stroke my face
You give a warm embrace
But when the burning’s over
There’s ashes in your place

I look at your long hands
I can see in your long face
You need something from that burning
I just can’t replace
Hold me like you hold that cigarette
Hold me like you hold that cigarette

Call my friends on the phone
But I know what their advice is
They say, You give him all your love
He gives you all his vices

But oh, when he kisses me
It’s everything that nice is

Hey what you want to bet
I just can’t quit you yet
Not the way you’re teaching me
The meaning of regret

At the end of my long days
At the end of my long nights
I need something from you, baby,
Makes me feel all right

If you’d hold me like you hold that cigarette
Cause I love you, like I’d love a cigarette
I can’t quit you
Baby, I can’t quit you yet

Hello, My Name is…

So lately, I’ve been reading the work of various spiritual teachers. First and foremost, I’ve been reading some books by Pema Chödrön, a Tibetan nun.

But then she quotes other spiritual teachers, like Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche, and Machik Labdrön.

Which leads me to wonder.

What’s with all the umlauts?

So you’re giving up your old life, your material belongings, sex, etc. etc.:

…Do you get umlauts as an award?

…Are they like epaulets? Do you get more umlauts the more enlightened you are?

…Are they like belts in karate? If you’re a black belt enlightened person, is your whole named covered in umlauts?

…Or maybe once you are truly enlightened, your name is reduced down to its essential being: Hello, my name is  ¨ .

This would, of course, be unpronounceable, and provide a much-needed meditation on the illusory nature of of names, words, and so forth.

Very recursive.