Salt and Pepper of a Home

In her book A Perfectly Kept House is the Sign of a Misspent Life Mary Randolph Carter says

“Music is the salt and pepper of an evening”

I couldn’t agree more. Although I would take it one step further, Music is the Salt and Pepper of a Home.  When I’m in a melancholy mood I’ll turn on some George Winston, December. When I want to feel young I listen to The Cars or Leigh Nash when I want to feel happy I’ll turn on some folk music.  It’s physically impossible to feel sad when you hear a banjo playing.

This weekend while my boys met with their tutor, I had an hour to go into Barnes and Noble and grab a coffee and a stack of books and shelter magazines.  The cafe was slammed.  I could hear way too many conversations–do people realize how loud they are talking?   The young girl with the older professor talking about iPhone apps, the study group meeting three tables over, the long line of coffee thirsty people with only two baristas {baristi?}to serve them.  My hour of blissful reading was grossly interrupted.


Until I remembered I had my earphones.  I popped them in and turned on Pandora and my old lady channel of solo piano and Philip Wesley’s Soul’s Lament played and suddenly the crowded scene changed from annoying to meaningful. As I looked around, it was if I were in the midst of a story, it was a beautiful, moving sight.   Music had the power to change the tone of the entire place even if it was just in my head.

Philip Wesley – Soul’s Lament

The same can happen in our homes.  We can use music to our advantage.  Just like the color we so carefully choose for our walls, music can easily set the tone for an evening, even something as simple as fixing instant potatoes becomes a worthy task when I’m listening to the right music.

So after I work in my office all day, I always look forward to coming home from carpool, turning on my Wailin’ Jennys or Alison Krauss or The Civil Wars channel and enjoying a lighthearted music.  It’s the banjos. And the fiddles.

The Civil Wars I’ve Got This Friend

Required reading from my sister: a beautiful post about Music Inspiring Writing {but you can apply it to anything, even decorating and living}.  And also this post, about following your crazy ideas springboarding from the Grammys.

I’d love to hear from you, what music is part of the soundtrack of your life?

ps: yippie!

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  1. Fernando Ortega is one of my standbys. And I’ve almost bought a pair of earphones one time I forgot them. It’s a must to not hear other people talking.

  2. On Sat. or Sun. my husband takes the kids out 2 play & I blare the Direct TV digital music RAP/Urban Hip-Hop channel while I clean the house. Our house is wired for surround sound and the walls SHAKE. It is AWESOME! I shake my booty and vacuum to Jay-Z :)

  3. From time to time, the music that has become the soundtrack of my life end up on my blog …these are the most recent. Enjoy!
    Natalie Grant’s HIS GREAT NAME
    Audrey Assad’s SPARROW
    Aaron Shust’s MY HOPE IS IN YOU

  4. I can’t make it thru the day at work without my earbuds in! Depending on my mood, no telling who I might be listening to. We work in open cubicles so blocking other peoples blah blah blah, with music is Heaven !

  5. Music means so much to me. I love the Civil Wars! If you haven’t already, go to iTunes and get “from this valley” the last minute of the song will have you smiling. And you seem to be missing out on the best folk music on the planet, Mumford & Sons. If you don’t have Sigh No More you are missing out. It is the best and if you want to feel happy, listen to “roll away your stone and awake my soul”. Listen to the lyrics and you’ll want to whip out your bible and worship. Best. Music. Ever. Thanks Nester!

  6. I love music and my iPod is plugged in about 85% of the time. I make playlists according to my mood, time of year, whatever is going on in my life or I want to remember. I like a lot of classic rock, folk, old punk, some newer things that catch my ear. I heard the Civil Wars last night on the Grammys and promptly downloaded what I could find on iTunes. Can’t wait to listen to them when I sync up my iPod.

  7. Music always inspires my day and my design work. I just heard The Civil Wars last night on the Grammy’s and my musician husband and I both loved them, so it was great to see you connect it to home and family today. Although for is the meat! Gillian Welch, Patty Griffin, The Be Good Tanya’s are always on my faves rotation playing in my office, with my guitar in arm’s reach to play along .

  8. I am listening to The Civil Wars now. Love them! And they were so cute last night on the Grammy’s!!

  9. Music transforms! The night of the Superbowl my entire family was over and a few other friends – a total of 18 people in the same couple rooms. My friend, who came over to visit with me because neither of us cared about “the big game” were in the diningroom and the grandchildren joined us. The noise of the people and the game was deafening! My five year old granddaughter starting twirling in the kitchen, so I opened Pandora, searched ballet music, turned it up, and the kitchen was transformed into a dance hall. The kids (ages 5, 4, 2 & 2) were all spinning, leaping, posing, and on their toes. Delightful!

  10. Oh what music does to my mood! The house can be a mess and dinner can be burnt, but if I have the right music on it’s all good. Sometimes it seems Pandora took a peek in my soul and saw exactly what I needed to hear on any given day… some of my favorite stations: Jose Gonzales, The Shins, Spoon, Miike Snow, Phoenix.

  11. Loved this post, Nester! I love sitting in coffee shops and bookstores and people watching. And I love music. My tastes are pretty eclectic. I can listen to bluegrass with the best of them (my dad played in a blue grass band when I was little). I like the Grateful Dead, Adele, Justin Timberlake, the Beatles, classical, and pretty much any oldies.

    I agree with you about the power of music in our home! T got me one of those docking things for my iPod and iPhone for Christmas, and I’ve had so much fun blasting different Pandora stations. And P.S. loved the “old lady station” reference. ;) I think it’s great that my kids are being exposed to lots of different musical genres. :)

  12. Oh, George Winston’s December is brilliant, and I listen to it all year round… when we clean up around our house, we have family dance parties to Arcade Fire or Sufjan Stevens or Mumford & Sons. And when we cuddle up the kids before bed, we listen to Sara Groves or Bon Iver or Rich Mullins. Music definitely flavours a house.

  13. Love this post – music is so important. My all time fav, the soundtrack from You’ve Got Mail. Always inspires me, makes me smile, gets me dreaming. Now, I’m hooked on David Tolley’s piano music, his Love Themes CD’s. Have them playing all afternoon. Like the soundtracks from a wide variety of movies, with classical thrown in. Wonderful stuff. Makes me want to fix our piano. Even though I could never play it like he does.

  14. I never thought I’d get to the point where I know so few of the current music stars! I’m here, though. There’s no excuse, with all the resources available. I thought all the guys at the end of the Grammy’s jamming on their guitars was great, last night. Paul McCartney is a trooper. So glad he’s found love again. I hope it lasts forever for him.
    Old Lady in California

  15. Yes, yippie!! We have loved Joy from her time on contemporary Christian radio back in the day. I love their music.

  16. I adore The Civil Wars!! I love to turn on music while cooking and I don not like pop music normally and I am ashamed to admit this but I sometimes turn it to a pop station (105.1, Raleigh nc) and get clean on :) it’s a sight to see, I’m sure!

  17. Old lady music…lol! Many of my favourites could be called that! I just wrote a post about five of my favourite songs ;-)

  18. I love to listen to music to get through the drudgery of some most hated chores (wiping out the refrigerator, washing all of the trim and baseboards in a room, etc). However, my daughter recently started middle school and I am finding that music is keeping our home in peace. Whenever I feel like I’m losing her to the onslaught of cell phone activity and arguments over what she is (not) old enough to do, it’s amazing what bridging the gap with some music can do! We have literally been at a silent stand-off one moment and singing and dancing like crazy people the next. Music is a tool, and a comfort!!

  19. How funny that you would post about the Civil Wars. First of all I have followed your blog since you started it! Secondly a friend of mine from college marrried Joy Williams almost 9 years ago when she was a Christan artist singing a very famous Chrismas song. And now –for the past 2 years she’s been part 1 of The Civil Wars. I knew I loved your taste in design–and now in music. And anything u2 is me and my life.

    • Jontalelise says:

      My college pastor is Joy’s sister. Isn’t so exciting to see her do well!!

      • what a small world! A couple from our church grew up with nate–we found this out via Facebook! I LOVE that she is doing so well–and that they are having a baby. SHe is such a beautiful person.

  20. Classical. I have a masters degree in muisc performance and there is nothing better {unless I’m playing with a full orchestra myself}. My husband and i had a date night on Friday- the orchestra had a great program and tickets here are so cheap- less than $12 each. I heard one of the best violinists- a guy from Moldova who looked like he could flip burgers at McD’s but was simply amazing! And Beethoven- who doesn’t love him?! :)

  21. Thank you for writing this.

  22. Enjoyed the music clips! We listen to a variety of music at our home, but bluegrass and folk music are our favorites.

  23. I really enjoyed this post. I have a wide variety of music interests, but when I sew, I usually listen to John Mayer, Fleetwood Mac, Alison Krauss and even Frank Sinatra! Love music, it has always been a part of my life, even in my Led Zep days!

  24. Jontalelise says:

    I was starting to feel at a loss with music for a while. It all seemed so shallow, hipster or out dated. I began to also exclusively listen to NPR. Lately though there has been such a interesting shift in rock music toward folk/experimental is reignighting my hope in music.

    And I just had to say I LOVE the Civil Wars and watched the Grammys specifically be ause I heard they were performing. :)

  25. I love all music, use it to get thru most days. I line dance a couple nights a week, I’m 51 and the youngest one there. I think being active with music~whether moving your furniture around or dancing with ladies in their 60-70’s keeps me young! Love this post!

  26. Lately I have loved playing Best of Dean Martin. I was cooking the other night with that c.d.
    playing and suddenly I felt as if I need pearls, pumps and a martini in hand! ;-). It is great to listen
    to while cleaning. You can’t beat the guitar music of Tommy Emmanuel either!

  27. nothing bring elegance to picking up lego and cleaning toilets like classical piano music!

  28. I can’t live without music! As a classically trained musician though, I have to say my love is for true classical music. Every now and then I put something else on for a different ambiance.

  29. Wonderful post. I had not heard of many of the artists you shared, thanks.
    Right now, I am really loving jazz, bluegrass, and big band. I think I am preparing for Marti Gras!

  30. Loved this. I so agree!.

    Where would I be without my music. And like you, I have different types of music for different moods. Music speaks to us at such a deep level – almost straight into our soul. It ministers to us.

  31. Thanks for introducing the Civil Wars to me. Have been kind of out of the music loop lately. Couldn’t help but click on your links and I LOVE THEM! Made my day. Thanks.

  32. well, i just bought mumford & sons concert tickets, so they’re pretty much on repeat these days.

    Other than that, I let Pandora take the reigns.

  33. I LOOOOVE the Civil Wars!! I’ve seen them 3 times. I was way proud of them last night!!

  34. Thanks for sharing this music. This weekend, I sat by a fire & listened to the sound track of the movie “The Piano.” Now I’ll have more songs to add to my collection.

  35. i wholeheartedly agree. i love my old lady instrumental stations on pandora. and i must be missing out here cause i haven’t heard of the civil wars!! will check them out. check out DREW HOLCOMB AND THE NEIGHBORS…ellie holcomb has a cd called MAGNOLIA that i think you would love <3

  36. I was thinking about this just the other day…things have been so busy around here that I have forgotten about music, and how much I love it…how much it definitely sets the tone and can lift your spirits…

    Thanks for a GREAT reminder…going to turn on some music RIGHT NOW!!!

  37. I agree music is a great mood changer and the ability to choose the tone with pandora) – HELLO Awesome. I like NeoSoul (Corinne Bailey Rae, Jill Scott) – Adele (luv!) but I like some pop (Katy Perry) and the subtleness of Luther Vandross never gets old. Aaaaah, Pandora, oh how we heart thee :)

  38. soundtrack of my life would include songs by U2, the soundtrack from Pride & Prejudice, Will Smith’s “Gettin’ Jiggy Wit It”, Maroon 5, Journey, Bon Jovi, Lady Antebellum & Pat Benatar’s “We Belong” just to name a few.

  39. I so aggree! I love Pandora, and have several different styles of stations on there. We have always played music often ( and loudly) in our home. My children are very musical, each being able to sing and play at least one instrument. They also appreciate many different kinds of music- from rock to classical. Right now I am loving my Gungor, Jon Forman and Adele stations.

    • we have those stations on our pandora, too :) As well as Civil Wars, Al Greene, Toby Mac, Little Women soundtrack, and on and on.

  40. I use Pandora every day. Classical music while I am teaching my kids, worship music while I am making dinner. Dance music while we are doing chores. I loved your station ideas!

  41. i am so blessed to have a husband who plays the guitar and sings…he plays for hours every single day…everything from bowie to dylan, mumford & sons to cohen. as i cook dinner or do dishes or knit or browse pinterest i am always singing or humming along. as well, we are both avid collectors of vinyl and play our records all the time and throw improptu dance parties or sometimes it’s a jam/singalong night on most saturdays with our friends and occasionally our kids and their friends will join in as well (they are between 17-26 yrs old). ps – just discovered the civil wars recently and love them!! happy heart day!

  42. I love music. I like an eclectic mix….Stephen Curtis Chapman to Nora Jones to Lyle Lovett. You are right….Pandora does rock….but somehow I missed the old lady piano solo channel :)

    Happy Valentine’s Day,

  43. If one was to buy The Civil Wars…which album would you start with? :) Going to check out Mumford & Sons, too! Thanks!

  44. I have always loved classical music. But for right now I’m stuck on “Freedom” by Michael W. Smith. I listen to it day and night. Music goes right to our heart and spirit. It bypasses the mind and ministers to the heart.

    • Have been listening to this album since it came out my junior year of college! When i put it on, I can still picture listening to it in the attic of the college house that I lived in at the time. It’s amazing where music can take you back to!

  45. Famous Nester, on this fine Valentine’s day, thought I woulld just send out the love. Just listened to the beautiful piano music. My BFF is a genius with music playlists. We are old school and listen to folks like Boz Skaggs, Robert Palmer, Marvin Gaye, the Stones. I have got quite the vinyl collection with Herb Alpert and Burt Bacharach.

    My deal is still so challenged with getting all this technology to work for us. I swear I barely know how to work the iTunes at work because I am a workaholic hound at work. to turn this energy into an awesome blog. I am an idea girl like KRAMER.
    I have mega business idea I am giving you; two words: blog school. Have little seminars with you and Edie presenting them.

    Anyway, back to the love. Luv ya, Trix&Pix

  46. When I need to get moving I turn on the Avett Brothers. Sovereign Grace music is our standby, though, for generally encouraging us to think well about the Christian life and our hope in Christ (their kids music is incredible!) Occasionally my kids beg my husband to play some rap music for them, so he turns on some Shai Linne and everybody starts dancing. :)

  47. Love it! Listening to Alison Krauss right now. It sounds like I would enjoy listening to most of your music options! I’m usually listening to any and all of the artists that you mentioned, plus Fernando Ortega, Andrew Peterson, Laura Story, Jill Phillips, and Harry Connick, Jr. to mention a few.

    P.S. What criteria do you put in for your “old lady channel of solo piano?” Inquiring minds want to know! :D

  48. I completely agree with you! Music definitely shapes my moods. I too love The Civil Wars. They’re great!

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