Oftentimes, comfort comes from repetition. Returning to art—cinema, songs, books, painted works or sculptures—can provide sanctuary for the mind. For our June At Home, we decided to share some of the art we’ve revisited this month. Though our editorial tasks involve listening to, watching and reading new work, we always attempt to find time for what we love from the past. If there’s a certain song, album, film, painting or other artwork that you’ve returned to many times, we suggest taking a moment to consider why—and perhaps even writing a few notes about its elements that bring you calm, satisfaction, joy or escape.
“With moods fluctuating wildly over the past four months, my listening habits have matched,” says Katie Olsen, director of editorial. “While I’ve discovered plenty of new music, I found myself returning to specific favorites from the past over and over and over—Erykah Badu’s “Time’s A Wastin,” Public Enemy’s “Harder Than You Think,” and Cocteau Twins’ “Cherry-Coloured Funk” among them. None more frequently though, than Nina Simone’s transcendently perfect rendition of “Suzanne.” It’s so different from Leonard Cohen’s quiet, haunting version: from the tinkling piano runs to the fluttering percussion, and Simone’s rich, unfettered, free-flowing vocals. It meanders, but with purpose, and simultaneously feels intimate and voyeuristic, jubilant and melancholy. This song is utterly sublime.”
Evan Malachosky, our assistant editor, says, “Sparked by J Cole’s stint in the news cycle—ugh—I returned to his label’s documentary, Dreamville: Revenge of the Dreamers, which recaps the ROTD III album recording sessions in January 2019. Cole, and Dreamville president Ibrahim Hamad, invited 343 artists to Atlanta for a 10-day recording retreat. In total, 124 songs were produced, written, and recorded, but the culminating album was narrowed down to 18 tracks (and 30 on the director’s cut). The 30-minute documentary details how social media ballooned the invite list from between 10 and 20 to over 300, how a competitive collaborative environment forged Grammy-level verses from all participants, and beyond. It makes me miss settings like this, and the magic of making something with others in IRL.”
“In my Notes app, I keep a running list—loosely ordered—of films I need to see, TV shows I need to watch and books I need to read,” says David Graver, editor in chief. “I’ve also got another note that tracks albums I listen to. I prefer to listen to albums at home from start to finish. I’m building a bit of a diary of my time in quarantine and the accompanying moods through this soundtrack. This self-imposed regimentation sort of prevents repeat listens or views but I have found myself pausing my itinerary to bask in the beauty of Fiona Apple’s Fetch the Bolt Cutters time and time again, as well as Beyoncé’s Lemonade (a household favorite since its release), and select works of Hildegard of Bingen (a woman composer and natural historian from the 12th century). Ego sum homo (a 2014 album) is a good place to start.”
At Home is a monthly series dedicated to the quieter observations of COOL HUNTING’s editorial staff and contributors from their homes
Hero image of Nina Simone, photographed in July, 1969