"And the background’s fading out of focus, yes the picture changing every moment"


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I didn't sleep well last night. At one point I ended up watching "So 80's" on VH1, my eyes to weary to read and my mind aching for the lullaby that only late night tv can sing. As the first few notes of the chorus of Roxy Music's Avalon filtered through, I wondered why it was that a song I felt so indifferent toward could possess just a few notes that could stir something inside me.... Music has always affected me on many levels, but what is it in that ten seconds or so, regardless of the rest of the song, that seems to resonate inside me, as if I keep locked within me a tuning fork, one that only activates when it's unique tone is matched. The first few seconds of the theme for the movie Ladyhawke, the sparse and haunting piano from Shawshank redemption, the last aching moments of Dead Can Dance's Severance, the slide guitar of the Cowboy Junkies version of Blue Moon Revisited, the stark, alien beauty of Lisa Gerrards voice in The Host of Seraphim, the symphonic outro of Massive Attack's Unfinished Sympathy. What are these emotions that those moments so painstakingly draw out? Melancholy, nostalgia....I've labeled them as such before. But now I'm not quite so sure. I've always had an appreciation for those creation myths that speak of a god-like being singing us into life (appreciation, not a serious belief in, for those who were starting to wonder). But it would provide the perfect explanation to think that we were each created as a song, and that if we are patient and listen hard enough, we may hear parts of that song in the music of others. I'd be fascinated to read what you would list as the moments in music that affect you in a similar way. And do not fear, this lapse in my usual cynicism is short lived.....I've just heard two of my female work colleagues arguing at the tea trolley about the number of coffee spoons available......


6 Responses to “"And the background’s fading out of focus, yes the picture changing every moment"”

  1. Blogger Luciana 

    Wow..what a beautifully written post. I'm going to sit on this one for a bit...

  2. Blogger the wheel 

    Your reference to creation myths made me think of The Silmarillion by JRR Tolkien (sort of a prequel to LOTR). In the beginning he describes the creation of Middle Earth as being a song. I remember reading that and thinking it was a very cool concept.

    If you haven't read it, and want to, I have to warn you that it's not really a "fun" read. It's about as exciting as reading the Old Testament (i.e. Akbar begat Hezekiah, who begat Shahalazar, who begat Lechiam, who begat Noah, and lo, the begatting never ceased, and the glorious begatation went on). Here is a link: http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/The_Silmarillion

    I too will have to think about specific moments that have affected me like that. So many songs and so many moments to consider...

  3. Blogger forgottenmachine 

    Muse for awhile, but don't forget to post back!
    Thanks skrambled for the link, but as you so rightly guessed, the Silmarillion is one of the sources I had in mind. Also wanted to add the last track on Beck's Mutations albumn to my list....

  4. Blogger Apotropaism 

    One of the character themes from the show Buffy - I think it's a motif used for Angel - has a very slow sequence of isolated notes that brings me near to tears every time I listen to it. The spangly-sounding bits of Elton John's Song For Guy. A passage played on strings in several tracks from Tell Me On A Sunday.
    I'm not sure it's quite the same thing you mean, but I know exactly why these affect me so strongly - they create pictures in my mind. I don't usually get many mental images from music, and the exceptions linger and haunt me.
    It's interesting, because I'd pick my favourite songs on the lyrics, but these special moments are all wordless. I'll have to think about this a little more.

    I love the idea of song as creation, but I admit my first thought was more frivolous than The Silmarillion; I remembered Terry Pratchett's Soul Music. Which is odd, considering that I've been muttering Silmarillion quotes to myself for the last week.
    Exits chanting"Then sudden Felagund there swaying
    Sang in answer a song of staying..."

  5. Blogger forgottenmachine 

    Hey Kraken. That's exactly what I mean...well not exactly, because I think the whole concept is one that differs in infinitesimal ways from one individual to the next, but I digress. Your comment about lyrics...even the music on my own list that may have a lyrical part, it's as if the sound of the words blends with the music, rather that the meaning of the lyric having that indescribable effect.
    And now I'm dreaming of a world sung into life by Terry Pratchett.........

  6. Blogger Prone Ranger 

    As a direct answer, (for which I am not known):
    Robbie Robertsons "Somewhere don the Crazy River"
    The Octaves used in the opening of "1979" by the Smashing Pumpkins
    The key change in "Great Gig in the Sky" by Pink Floyd
    "Woman in chains" by Tears for Fears
    The opening scene of Donnie Darko with the Echo and the Bunnymen track, as well as the "Head over Heals" sequence
    I virtually passed out and had rapture hearing Snowy White and Andy Fairwether-Low doing "Shine on you Crazy Diamond" Live.

    To Quote:
    "Music: The only cheap and unpunished rapture upon earth”
    Sydney Smith

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