For ten years, I have listened to Krishna Das more than any other performer. More than the Beatles, the Stones, the Who. More than James Taylor. Or Ella Fitzgerald or Billie Holliday. More than Miles Davis or Dexter Gordon. More than Bob Dylan, the Doors, or the Indigo Girls. Or Coldplay, INXS, OMD, the Furs or the Femmes. The Kinks. Yes. Aimee Mann. Kate Bush.
I listen to him as a form of meditation. Not at 5 am, when I meditate for 20 minutes every day. But at 5:30, while I make coffee, read the news, do the remaining dishes, tidy the kitchen. On the train. When driving. While walking.
It began with “All One,” an album with no more than 3 words on it, I think, repeated over and over (Hare, Krishna, Rama). An ecstatic first experience of meditation. And of kirtans. As a Jew, I grew up with niggunim – wordless professions of faith – but somehow, it took a Long Island Jewish convert to Hinduism to awaken in me the power of music to speak to my innards.
I’ve written before about my first ecstatic meditation experience. Generally, my meditation isn’t ecstatic. It’s boring. Mundane. Pedestrian. Predictable. (Except when it isn’t.)
I haven’t written before about how Krishna Das manages to touch parts of me that aren’t easily touched. Lately, I’ve been listening to one song on repeat. It’s not necessarily my favorite, but it illustrates what I’m describing here.
This song – a song whose words are, on one level, utterly foreign to me – and his rendition of it moves me. Powerfully. It rescues me from the depths of my self-absorption, delivering me into a spacious, open, vulnerable, strong place.
Listen to him sing it.