The night has always been a time of excitement, a time when—as I wrote a year ago—music “lives.” There’s something exhilarating and fun about the night, which is why I chose the word “frisson” to convey the tantalizing possibilities of the night.
I’m more of a morning person these days, rising early, well before the dawn. Well, isn’t that just another way of saying “the late, late night”? There’s not much exciting happening at 5 AM (other than reading the Bible and talking to God), but it’s still pretty dark out. Try waking up then and you’ll see!
Still, there is a real appeal to the night. I’m at my most alert and mentally focused in the morning and—you guessed it—at night. Afternoons would be naptime for yours portly, if I had my druthers—and a schedule that permitted it.
With that, here is 15 September 2021’s “The Frisson of the Night“:
Yesterday I wrote about the joy—the thrill!—of live music. I’m excited to see it making a comeback after the long, weary months of The Age of The Virus, and hope we will witness a renaissance of live entertainment.
Live music is most at home, I think, at night. Sure, there are plenty of fine performances that take place during the day, and a talented classical guitarist plucking out Bach’s Bourrée in E Minor adds a bit of classiness to a tony Sunday brunch, but music lives at night. After all, Mozart composed Eine Kleine Nachtmusik (“A Little Night Music”), not Ein Kleiner Tagmusik.
There is palpable excitement to the night—a delectable frisson, the promise of things to come. The night is when things happen. Granted, they aren’t always good things, but the night promises to be eventful.
These thoughts sprang to mind as I was driving to hear Jeremy Miles‘s group play last Friday. It had been some time since I’d taken in an evening of music, and when I left home I was still weary from a very long week at work (even with Labor Day off and a day of virtual learning, I was drained). But as I drove in the dark towards the lights of Florence, I could feel my energy renewing as the anticipation of a night of good music built.
In my younger days, I was more of a night owl than I am now. Professional demands and my own preferences have made me more of a morning person, but I used to thrill at the opportunity to play a live show in Columbia at 9:45 PM on a Thursday night (now, I’m usually getting ready for bed by 9:45 PM on any weeknight). Most of my best songs were written late at night, into the wee hours of the morning, as I forced myself to churn out lyrics, melodies, and chords.
Even as I’ve grown more domesticated and sleepy, I still find the night, next to the morning, is my favorite time of the day. I can do without the afternoon—long hours of tiredness, while still slogging out work, are what I think of when I think of the afternoon. My energy dips somewhere around 4 or 4:30 PM (although teaching lessons during those times has invigorated me somewhat). But I always seem to get a second wind as night falls, and find I am most productive first thing in the morning, and later in the evening.
Many years ago, a colleague gave me a number of albums from 80s hair metal groups as part of a Secret Santa gift exchange. One of them was, essentially, the greatest hits of the German band Scorpions, which contained the track “Big City Nights.” That song (along with Dokken‘s “The Hunter“) became a kind of de facto anthem for nights spent driving between Florence and Columbia—or some other distant city—for a night of rockin’ (“The Hunter” is a relic of my single days; it always seemed to sum up the struggles and urges of modern dating, in all its desperate longing and searching).
The University of South Carolina’s Southern Exposure New Music Series is staging a concert this Friday dedicated to music of the night (appropriately, the concert is entitled, simply, “Night Music“). I won’t be able to attend, but if ever there was a subject to explore musically, the night is one worth considering.
The night can be dangerous, to be sure, but it seems a time full of opportunities, excitement, and energy. It also reminds us to be thankful for the blessings of the day, and the joy that is light and sunshine. There is too much of a good thing: eternal darkness—like what faces us if we descend to Hell—is unbearable and soul-sucking.
But a little night—and a little night music—makes for a great deal of fun.