Music for the Soul (and Bedtime)

Musician Spencer Lewis

Musician Spencer Lewis

About ten years ago I happened to win a massage in a silent auction at a fundraising event for an environmental organization. Our cat had just died and I figured I could use a little TLC.

A few days later, I drove up to Fairfax, CA from San Francisco for the massage. The minute I laid down on the table, I felt raw. All of my grief over losing a beloved pet came to the surface. And then the music began to play. It wasn’t the standard soundtrack to a massage. No waterfalls or bamboo flutes. The lyric-less guitar and violin music rose up and receded, mimicking my emotions. I hadn’t heard anything quite so deeply soothing before.

When the massage was over, I asked the therapist for the name of the CD. She told me the artist was Spencer Lewis.

Not long after, I went online to buy the CD. It wasn’t available on Amazon. Couldn’t find it at Barnes and Noble. Back then the only way to buy Spencer’s music was to call the number listed on his website (today, you actually can buy Spencer’s music from Amazon; it’s also available directly from Spencer’s website).

Spencer records the music under his own label Quartz Recordings, in his home studio in Vermont. He answered the phone himself and told me the CD Close to Home would arrive in the mail within the week. It did, and promptly became a favorite in our house.

One Christmas, we brought the CD along with us on a family vacation to Canada’s Mont Tremblant. The weather was brutally cold outside (minus 45 degrees farenheit) and we spent much of the vacation indoors, cozied up in front of the fireplace, drinking wine, and listening to Spencer’s music. Everyone was hooked.

While Spencer Lewis might not be a household name (yet), to us, he feels like family. When our first child was born eight years ago, we would rock her to sleep at night to Spencer’s music. We put it on the iPod to take with us when we traveled so that we’d never be without our tried and true sleep-time weapon.

In addition to the two CDs we have (we also have The Healing Distance) Spencer has released an impressive twenty-two albums. All but two are instrumental and only one In My Arms is specifically geared toward children.  With titles like In StillnessA Sense of Place, and The Silence Between the Words, it’s no surprise that Spencer’s music has received reviews like this one, from the November/December 2008 issue of Upper Valley Life magazine:

“The guitar takes its time, crafting a tune with care, like a Vermonter building a stone wall or a cabin in the woods. The violin wraps itself around the tune, defining a sonic landscape – like the forested hillside where the Vermonter builds. And like the stone wall or the cabin, the music is built for comfort, and it’s built to last.”

Most CDs cost a ridiculously low $6.00 when purchased directly from Spencer; Amazon sells them for around $11.92. Some songs are also available for download as MP3s. I’ll certainly be downloading some of his more recent music and checking out some of his songs with vocals.

Since we’ve been listening to and enjoying Spencer’s music for the past ten years, and since our two oldest children have heard his songs so many times they’ve practically become part of their DNA, I figured the least I could do to express my gratitude was to share his music with others.

Thank you, Spencer.

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