This week, Herman Miller introduced the Herman Miller Collection Outdoor–which is why we found it fitting to feature the playlist of Ricki Grady, a former graphic designer and now garden writer and author of the book BeBop Garden. Listen to the mix that you may just hear playing in (or outside of) her cozy nest of a studio near Portland, Oregon.
What do you listen to while you work? How do you listen? When I am writing, it is a struggle to maintain focus, so silence is my friend and ally. Working in the garden, I like to be fully present. The subtle (and occasionally not-so-subtle) sounds of nature conspire to produce their own low-key, atonal symphonies, while my own quietude allows me to blend in and observe interactions that would elude me if I were surrounded by my own “sound barrier.” (Ever had a butterfly land on your toe?) By contrast, when I am sewing and working on products for my Etsy shop, I listen to the sweet little Bose radio in my studio.
Does music influence your work? You might get the idea that music takes a back seat, but not so. In fact, the first couple of paragraphs of BeBop Garden allude to the ways in which gardening, and, by extension, garden writing, have come to stand in for my lack of musicianship. Early on, I found myself calling certain plants “divas” and others “chorus girls.” It wasn’t long before the analogy “took root” and I began to see the whole garden in musical terms.
Do you have any favorite music websites/providers? Portland has a 24-hour jazz/blues station, KMHD, that is our radio mainstay. Most days, I try to tune in to NPR’s “Fresh Air” to hear Terry Gross interview the world’s most fascinating people. When musicians are her guests (Patti Smith, Yo Yo Ma, Robert Plant and Alison Kraus…) she will play cuts from their various recordings…or there will be reviews at the end of the show. We also have a huge collection of vinyl from as far back as the 50’s and lots of CDs from more recent years. Heavy on jazz, Motown, and classical, most genres are represented.
Who influences your musical taste? A French friend has made a number of CD mixes for us, introducing us to Amy Winehouse, Adele, Pink Martini, and a bunch of French artists I will not attempt to name as these things come sans liner notes.
If your work was a song or a musician, what or who would it be? I would love to be able to say that the garden compositions I create and the words I write have the offbeat, minor key dissonance of Donovan’s Hurdy Gurdy Man, the swinging syncopation of Dave Brubeck’s Jazz Impressions of Eurasia, and the sublime cool of anything by Miles Davis. Maybe someday…when the light is just right.
- Trout Quintet by Schubert, Clifford Curzon Vienna Octet
- Hey Sweet Man, Madeleine Peyroux
- Bird on a Wire, Leonard Cohen
- Seed, Afro Celt Sound System
- Wash Me Clean, K.D. Lang
- Take Off Your Cool, OutKast featuring Norah Jones
- Tutu, Miles Davis
- The Forest (album), David Byrne
- Good Dog, Happy Man (album), Bill Frisell
- Sweet Tea (album), Buddy Guy
- Queen of the Night, Yusef Lateef
- Rubber Band Man, The Spinners
Photos: Ricki Grady