Take Your Ives to Work Day
Quick, what do T.S. Eliot, Franz Kafka and Charles Ives have in common? All three spent a good deal of their careers not in a career in the arts but in button down business roles. Eliot worked for Lloyd's of London. Kafka worked for Assicurazioni Generali, and Ives worked for an American insurance agency. In fact, he is credited for being a pioneer in estate planning as much as he was in music.
Maybe that's why I've been playing a lot of Ives during my work week lately. Ives is so wonderfully unpredictable and downright weird. Chaotic one moment, then pastoral the next and then sounding like backtracking marching bands crashing into each other. Ives' Psalms can be very good for focusing. If you're really focusing, you don't even realize they are in English and they start sounding like a Buddhist chant.
Some of his individual American songs are the most gloriously goofy. Aaron Copland composed his share of wacky tunes, but Ives go even further. Who was Charlie Rutlage? I have no idea, but under Ives' hand, it feels like he might be a character out of Kafka's Amerika.