Paul Lisicky Recommends...

"Music was my first love, and it's still the source for me even though I haven't touched a piano or guitar in years. It continues to teach me about phrasing, pitch, shifts in rhythm, shifts in tonal register—all of the qualities I value in writing. I try to listen to a range of work, but every so often I go back to Joni Mitchell, whom I need to take breaks from as she already feels like my inner life. I'm not talking Blue, as pure as the album is, but Don Juan's Reckless Daughter, which is admittedly a mess, but a gorgeous mess. I don't think there's ever a moment when five things aren't going on emotionally. Each measure is dense with animation. It goes down like inquiry, a mind at work. It's richer for the fact that it makes mistakes, even dares to make mistakes, as if Mitchell's stretching out the membrane of what a song could do. The form is entirely its own, and not a bit sounds packaged for the marketplace. The album is neither old nor new, but outside of time. Its bravery is an animal. I want to hold it."
—Paul Lisicky, author of The Narrow Door (Graywolf Press, 2016)