Be Here Now!
New Gestalt Voices presents a project by NYC-based Gestalt therapist Steve Ausbury in which participants reconnect with a lost part of their lives through music.
It’s an understatement to suggest that music evokes memory. But what about the songs that fully transport you to another time and world that you once inhabited? Is there a particular song or melody that defies chronological time and brings you back to a moment in your life as if you are really there once again: the time, the place, the feelings, the sights, the smells, the faces, the physical sensations, the atmosphere. You are there!
- Simply recall a specific song or piece of music from the past and allow yourself to go where it brings you.
- Very important: Use the first-person present tense and write down whatever you experience.
- What are you perceiving? What are you experiencing in that present moment? Allow the song to write the experience. Get out of the way!
- After writing, ask yourself what you are feeling in the moment.
- Send your song experience to firstname.lastname@example.org by 31st March. Read your work live on a NGV Radio Show in May 2021
- It’s generally a good idea to start with the phrase: “I am…”
- Often a song simply conjures one very particular moment. Perfect. Just stay in that moment and fully explore every aspect of the mini-world of that moment.
- There is no prescribed length or word count; writing can be as short as one sentence and as long as you like.
- The song could be from last month or it may be from fifty years ago. The specific timeframe reveals itself through the music.
Maybe Your Baby/ I Believe When I Fall in Love by Stevie Wonder
September, 1990, Somerville, Massachusetts
Virginia Vitzthum, Brooklyn, NY 2016 (excerpt)
“I shake my body for Billy, smiling, eyes half-closed, in the bass’s groove but dancing the words at him too – I get this. Yeah I dig you, but I’m not credulous, I’m not soft, I’m not one of those needy girls. He smiles at me and I see in the search of his green eyes the same self-consciousness I feel; we’re dancing alone on a shag carpet in a cruddy Somerville apartment, just us doing this public, performative thing in private, tentatively trusting each other, venturing into joy.
And then Track 2, which of course I knew about when I put on the tape. Ahead are more cynical grooves: Superstition, You Haven’t Done Nothing, Mistra Know It All, but gushing forth now are melodramatic piano, shimmering cymbals, golden strings swooping heavenward. A little embarrassing.
Billy opens his arms and steps toward me right before I know I want him to. It’s a slow dance. He’s 6’3”, and his shoulder shelters my shoulder, his neck a burrow for my face. We fit so well. All week we’ve been fitting in a way I’ve never known. I’m coming up on 29 and haven’t been anywhere near love since college. This guy in from California gets me. The day we met, six days ago, we peeled away from the friends who introduced us and we’ve spent the week marvelling at our rightness, our sudden inevitability.
We sway silently to the corny opening, our bodies communicating incessantly – not really much of a dancer, am I, but how nice to have a ritual to press our bodies together, wow, we certainly do fit, this is really much much better than the rest of my life, I have no reason to believe that you are not as wonderful as you seem, yes, it’s new, but everything profound must start some time.”
The Beautiful Ones by Prince
Mark Crosby, NY, NY, 2016
I’m alone in my BMW, a 320i manual transmission, lapis blue, handle-turned sunroof, and gold BBS wheels. It’s night, and my headlights break the darkness of a field next to a gravel parking lot on the edge of town. I push the cassette into my dash and crank up The Beautiful Ones by Prince. I don’t know how I came to buy it, likely the hype around the movie, but it was 1984 or 5 and I’d just started law school in Virginia. I was dating a girl I knew was beautiful but she spelled tomorrow with an “a” as in tomarrow and I thought she needed someone who loved her more than me. This first year in a small town I did not know felt like I’d made a mistake, the pages of classes offered would have gone unnoticed by me in an undergraduate catalog, but now this was all I had. So I pulled out of the parking lot, rolled back the moonroof and shifted gears back down into town. Through a couple lights and out the other side and up onto the Blue Ridge Parkway. From there, under a blanket of stars I could look back on the lights of town, on my choices both made and pending and realize I was not only these. The song, The Beautiful Ones had an open sound, echoing and vast, with dissonance here and there. It was a like a roman candle, beautiful and bright, full of color and dreams.
Big in Japan by Alphaville
Compiano, Italy, 1984
Steve Ausbury, Brooklyn 2016 (excerpt)
“It’s 1984 and I’m 19 years old and I’m dancing at Snoopy’s, a disco near my mother’s village in rural, northern Italy. I’m visiting the town with my Mom, her first trip back after 38 years of living in the US. The music in the disco is unbearably loud. The singer of the song sounds like he’s experiencing terrible physical, psychic, spiritual angst… But the words are somehow delivered valiantly like a crucial message before death, the arrows too deep to pull out. The cigarette smoke is at a ghastly level for me, a non-smoker. People are disappearing in and out of the smoke. It’s like Winston, Lucky Strike and Parliament decided that rock concert style smoke machines should replace cigarettes and just blow tobacco smoke directly into clubs and the new product is rolled out in an obscure Italian mountain disco.
I’m excited to be in another country in which I don’t really know anyone and I’m hopelessly lonely for the same reason. There are colored lights splashing around on all the faces (and all the smoke). Naturally, they are northern Italian faces. The faces are important. There’s an strange familiarity with these faces that I’ve never experienced before — a sub-culture with which I’m somehow genetically connected, but from which I’ve been culturally alienated for most of my life.”
In the Heat of the Morning by David Bowie
New Haven, CT, 1981
Caveh Zahedi, Brooklyn, NY, 2016
Nienke, I love you so much. It’s hot in the morning. We wake up sweaty. I’ve never loved anyone so much.