Jenny Anne Mannan

American Songstress

What Do You Want To Listen To?

This is Caleb's favorite thing to ask me. I think it's his way of making me check in with the present. A gentle way to say, "Babe, you're going away. Come back to us."

My sister-in-law, who is a psychologist and a very gifted, compassionate therapist, was once chatting with me about dissociative disorders. She told me that a good strategy to employ with people who tend to disassociate is to ask them to engage in a tactile, physical activity. "I see you're getting overwhelmed. Would you like a drink of water?" That sort of thing. Now, I am neither confirming nor denying a propensity toward dissociative behaviors. I will say, though, that my 4 year old has taken to demanding, "Mommy! Watch me and look at me!"

So in our family we ask each other what we'd like to hear. It's our way of reminding each other to check in, to let go of the chatter and grasping of our minds, to be here and share a common experience. The kids chime in their requests, the two who speak English duking out over "Radiohead!" "No! Kings of Leon!" I swear they could do that for hours.

Here's our Recently Played List.

Etta James, At Last. This is a weekend staple. Sundays aren't complete without "Sunday Kind of Love".

Fleet Foxes, Helplessness Blues. This is always a great way to start the day. And a great way to end the day. And a great way to spend the day.

Wanda Jackson, Town Hall Party. This rowdied our Friday night right up.

The Black Keys, El Camino. Speaking of rowdy. Saturday night dance party guaranteed.

Lana Del Ray, Born To Die. Rowdy in a whole other way. Mostly we have to listen to this after the kids are in bed. We realized Violet is actually trying to memorize the lyrics, and while these are certainly fun, we don't exactly want our 6 year old singing them.

Chris Thile & Michael Daves, Sleep With One Eye Open. I don't think I'm exaggerating when I say this is one of the most important albums of our generation. Also, it's Waylon's favorite.

Johnny Cash, Songs of Our Soil. 'Nough said.

Tyler Ramsey, The Valley Wind. My favorite line, "We have no past, we won't reach back, stay with me forward on through the night."

Bill Monroe, The Very Best of Bill Monroe and His Bluegrass Boys. Normally I am not a fan of collections, but in cases like these it's so important to build a definitive collection. I want all the records, but I have to prioritize and just buy the albums from specific eras with the most songs.

Mark Lanegan, Blues Funeral. This is dark and haunting and heartbreaking. One reviewer called Lanegan the voice of a Cormac McCarthy character. Perfect rainy day songs.

After a decade of marriage, I'm onto my husband's tricks. I know that when he asks me what I want to listen to, he's asking me to show up. He's asking me to be a person, right here and right now. To have input, to quit worrying about my To Do List for a second and just enjoy a moment of good music with him. And I love him for it.

What do you want to listen to?

Copyright 2016, Jenny Anne Mannan. All rights reserved.