The music issue of Color Wheel literally sings. Well, almost literally. With essays ranging in subject from the Doors to classical composers, poems that conjure up every noise you can imagine, and actual songs, notes and all, this issue comes as close as you can get to capturing music on paper.
The essays are plentiful and short, providing an eclectic look at all kinds of music. Jessica Handler’s essay, “On the Wall of Death,” is an entertaining piece about Richard Thompson, while Robert Vivian writes vividly about the sound of a bell. Frederick Moe’s essay, “Woven Wheat Whispers,” drove me to the internet to explore a website devoted to folk music.
I was delighted to find Dan Berggren’s songs in the middle of this literary magazine, inviting the reader to ponder the connection between song lyrics and poetry. I even got out my long-neglected flute and tried out the music, which was simple and lovely.
The poetry, which is heavy on the free verse, would never be mistaken for song lyrics, however. Instead, the poems use music as a subject, and often do it well. My favorite, “Bring Color Back to Me” by Stephen Mead, is a surreal description of an orchestra in a flood: “These violin bows are zippers of miniature spouts / Well mastered by hands.”
This issue got me thinking about the ordinary but beautiful sounds of everyday life. It inspired me to look for new music on the internet, and it even rescued my flute from its dusty corner of the closet. You can’t get more musical than that.