Listener's Arc | Varyer
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Listener’s Arc

Mark Richardson's recurring music column examines the narratives around the sounds we come back to.

An illustration of a small person standing within a winding red squiggle that reads "listening alone."

This is Where I Belong ➺

Mark Richardson shares thoughts on the quality of private listening vs. social listening, using Spotify Wrapped as an example here of the latter, where the togetherness of fandom is contrasted against music you love that has no social context.

A close-up illustration of red and purple piano keys.

The Shimmering Piano ➺

Reading about music seldom produces the same impact as the feeling of sound waves vibrating the inner ear... unless it's a Mark Richardson joint. We're approaching something close to that sense of sonic delight in this Listener's Arc column exploring phases of discovery within America's greatest endemic art form—jazz music.

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What the Broken Glass Reflects ➺

Mark Richardson never fails to provide a thorough existential analysis to a soundtrack; this column covers topics including but not limited to: Reinventing yourself, the undeniable loneliness of existence with Bob Dylan, vomiting in organic waste bins, and the blind optimism of born-again Christians.

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Memory Units ➺

A heartfelt opus, this week's Listener's Arc column chronicles life as it relates to the music of The Caretaker.

"In nursing homes, a common name for the area of the facility dedicated to residents with dementia is the “memory unit.” “Memory care facility” is used more frequently, which sounds a little warmer and softer, but the intention remains the same: They are designed to house people whose cognitive function is diminished to such a degree that they become a danger to themselves and others.

Memory units are kept locked, because people with dementia are liable to open a door and keep walking. When visiting one, you need to be buzzed in, as if you’re at a prison."

People ride on a train with surgical masks on.

The Threshold ➺

With live music out of the question for most of 2020, Mark Richardson thought of the indelible moments with sound that came in moments of solitude. Listen to 13 that’ll stay with you.

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The Wheel ➺

In Mark Richardson's first Listener's Arc, he establishes it as part music column, part personal essay—a sacred space for listening. He reflects on Bill Callahan's The Wheel -

"...I’ve seen very little written about “The Wheel.” But the song is for me one that I can listen to and hear it from multiple angles at once—a call to arms, an anthem about unity, a fable about the unchangeability of one’s essential nature—and the music carries me along. I hear it and I think about myself as one unimportant part of some larger plan."