Song Of Songs

Barbara Sibley's all-encompassing love of music has inspired her to sacrifice her time, her blood, and a whole lot of shelf space. A look at record collecting as a metaphor for life--and life as a metaphor for record collecting.

3. The Jam, St. Paul Civic Theatre, 1980
Sun Ra and the Arkestra's cameo during a Burning Spear show at Duffy's

These concerts were critical in blowing every last stale note of Seventies arena rock out of my head, jump-starting a passion for live music, and increasing my record collection by 500 percent in a shockingly short time.

4. Wire, 154

Shall I play you Musci-Venosta, Akiko Yano, or Gabby Pahinui? Barbara Sibley prepares to spin Carson Daly's biggest hits during her show on KFAI
Michael Dvorak
Shall I play you Musci-Venosta, Akiko Yano, or Gabby Pahinui? Barbara Sibley prepares to spin Carson Daly's biggest hits during her show on KFAI

Wire's smart, sarcastic, sometimes scary music dovetailed so perfectly with my solitary, upside-down days and nights. Some mornings I'd go out on the roof of a big building at sunrise and look out at the sprawl of the waking city, hearing the refrain to "Map Reference 41 Degrees North 93 Degrees West."

5. The Best of John Coltrane

After a couple of years of two-minute punk anthems, it was time to step across the record-store aisle for some 13- and 20-minute songs. I still get goosebumps when Trane swoops in after Tyner's solo on "My Favorite Things" and when I hear the first notes of "Equinox."

6. various artists, Music and Rhythm
various artists, The Nonesuch Explorer Sampler

Music and Rhythm was a good way to get rock kids like me to shut up and listen to sounds and instruments outside the guitar-bass-drums mold. Sounds like drums from Burundi, a chorus of Balinese men chanting frantically, and the ecstatic force-of-nature blasts from Qawaali master Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan.

7. Akiko Yano, There Must Be Love
Yukihiro Takahashi, What, Me Worry?

The folks who loaned me these records taught me an eclectic approach to music that, done with an open mind and a good heart, can end up being celebratory and sublime instead of self-consciously clever and ironic.

8. Musci-Venosta, A Noise, A Sound

It combined the best of everything I liked in music: a world of instruments, field recordings, found sounds, adventurous, original composition, passion and humor. Startling, adventurous, and so very well put together, this record raised the bar for all similar attempts at fusing music genres. It's also fun to drop on unsuspecting listeners at 7:00 a.m.

9. Sonny Chillingworth, Sonny Solo

One listen to Sonny's slack-key guitar and gorgeous vocals and I was a goner. Slack-key is such nahenahe music--soft, sweet, and a little bit sad, a music of place and full of aloha.

10. Lena Willemark and Ale Möller, Nordan

This is music that speaks so strongly and fiercely of nature, seasons, cycles, grappling with life and death, celebrating the sweet blossoms of summer, leaning into the cold wind of winter. It's music that makes so much sense here in Minnesota, where, try as we might to deny it, we are children of the seasons.

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