Taking Tiger Mountain

Today I was thinking of posting an ambient piece — something to chill out on.

You see, last night, I was not feeling tired at all, and so I stayed up to watch two episodes of a new series I found on Netflix, Away, about a NASA mission to Mars. I enjoy a quality science fiction work, and the first two episodes were engaging and suspenseful.

I’d had a lot on my mind through the day and into the night: all good things, like an upcoming volunteer opportunity I’m delighted about; being excited about my cycling progress over the season; feeling grateful and fortunate to be healthy, loved and in love; and, finally, yesterday’s song just kept playing on in my mind, it was so inspiriting. (Check it out if you haven’t already!)

So, even at 1:00 am, I still didn’t feel ready to fall asleep, and after tossing and turning with the above thoughts, I got up and read sometime after 3:00 am, finally conking out from about 4:00 to 8:30. I have a feeling tonight might be an earlier night…

When ambient came to mind today, I thought I would post something by Brian Eno. It’s no secret that I’m an admirer of his music and collaborations, and if you search “Brian Eno” on this site, you’ll see clear evidence of that.

“Taking Tiger Mountain” is the closing track on the 1974 album, Taking Tiger Mountain (by Strategy), the second album he released after starting his post-Roxy Music solo career in 1973. I wouldn’t consider the song ambient, but it has a slow, climbing sort of mood to it, which, along with acoustic piano and synthesizer sounds and multi-layered effects on the guitars, makes it a thoughtful and calming piece, much like the qualities of ambient music. (And the wind sound effect makes me think of the gusty headwind I took on, on the way home cycling today.)

Eno, who claims he only became a musician by chance, has been a pioneer in the progressive/art rock, experimental and ambient music spheres. He started making ambient records while still in the rock realm, and has meandered between the two genres for years.

At 72, he is still creating visual/aural art, and making and producing music (check out these posts on Blonde, Ultramarine and Celeste from his most recent release, this year’s Mixing Colours, which he made with his brother, Roger). He’s also an activist whose thoughts and opinions are sought on topics such as science and technology, climate change, and various political and social issues critical to the future of our living world.

In the second post that I made on this blog (Deep Blue Day, on January 6), I told of a brother urging me to buy Taking Tiger Mountain (by Strategy) as soon as I purchased my first stereo, and my gratefulness for the musical path his advice took me on. Serendipitously, I had a chance to visit with him today. Like so many family and close friends, we’ve been mostly apart since the pandemic lockdowns began. It was heartwarming to be together in a way you just can’t do as effectively by text, online gathering or phone (though those sure have been welcome because the limitations on in-person gatherings).

“We climbed and we climbed
Oh, how we climbed
My, how we climbed
Over the stars to top
Tiger Mountain
Forcing the lines through the snow”

(Taking Tiger Mountain,” by Brian Eno)

Now you know a little about why this is my song of the day for today. Thanks for joining me here, and please enjoy.

Here’s the 2004 digital remastering of the audio for the song from Brian Eno’s official YouTube channel:

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