Friday, April 08, 2011

Music to Make You Weep

There was a wee experiment on the PM Programme yesterday evening. With the warning that we shouldn't attempt this whilst driving or operating heavy machinery we were played a selection of music that we were told would possibly make us cry.

Now I cry a lot at music, mainly for the wrong reasons because I have been subjected, as a Christian minister to more bad music than anyone really has the right to expect during the course of a single lifetime.

I was driving but, taking a wild guess that I knew myself well, didn't turn off the radio and guess what, didn't cry.

Do you like crying? I don't.

Three pieces of music I can think of will make me cry and so they are locked away now and I avoid them:

Together Alone by Crowded House was the encore at a wonderful gig in 1994. The next day I had to take Alex the labrador to be put down and since then the two events have been inextricably linked in my mind. A tear is forming as I think about it.

A new album by Angelique Kidjo was on in my car as I drove over to visit my Dad during his last illness. It was a lively piece. All bouncy and African with rock roots. Kept me going for four days but then, once he'd died, I could never play it again.

Finally I was listening to Hard Fi when my youngest left home for the last time. The track 'Move On Now' was the only slower, acoustic song on the album. With its chorus of  'I guess it's time to move on now...' it forced me to accept something had changed for good. We'd done child-rearing and were into a new phase of life.

Nothing wrong with that new phase of life and I still see my sons but there are tears on the keyboard as I write this and the track has to be skipped on a great album.

I repeat the advice - if something is happening to you that one day you will look back on with tears don't play your favourite songs whilst it is happening. You'll lose them for ever.

Music that brings tears to your eyes is about association more than any intrinsic ability of music to emote.


Ray Barnes said...

I absolutely agree that music which makes us cry is because of association.
My uncle who was 21 died when I was eleven. It was a freak diving accident and stunned the family.
I was learning "I vow to thee my country" in the music class in school that day and have never sung it since.
My mother used to cry at the sound of very high trebles and could not explain why.
Sound is both a gift and a curse.

iPriest said...

Giles Smith wrote an excellent book about life and pop music called "Lost in Music. In it he recounts his ordeal with Leukaemia and how his Walkman (it was the 1980's) got him through it, and most especially the music of the Coctau Twins.

His final comment was that after he went into remission he NEVER listened to them ever again: perfect for Chemotherapy, but never again.

St said...

I have read Giles' book. It is excellent fun and very well written. If anyone local wants to borrow it please ask.