Can you tell the difference between happy tears and sad? I definitely can’t.
This is especially a problem when listening to music, which as we all should know, has magical powers to hit us right in the sweet spot and make or ruin our day.
Personally it’s not just songs that are related to a specific time. For me it’s typically the lyrics and the story they’re telling, but then, not always.
On a decent pair of headphones, that snare at 10 seconds into Heart & Soul from Twin Atlantic’s Great Divide album puts a lump in my throat the size of Uluru! It’s not a sad lump. Why would a drummer doing his or her job so effectively and thoroughly cause me upset? But it’s there!
Most of the time it’s lyrics. I remember this started with an artist I have no continuing relationship with: Tori Amos, and Silent All These Years. It captures a moment I have never experienced and, without some major lifestyles shifts, probably won’t:
“Your Mother shows up in a nasty dress / it’s your turn now to stand where I stand / everybody lookin’ at you / you take hold of my hand” – Just typing it out gives me shivers. Back in 1992, the year it came out, I clearly remember sitting with my clock radio for most of the night, scrolling between stations in the hope it was playing somewhere and I’d find it and exorcise the sadness it inextricably cast into me.
Damien Rice kicks me right in the heart-nuts every time I hear Cannonball from O:
“Stones taught me to fly / love taught me to cry / so come on courage, teach me to be shy…” – HOW MUCH MORE CAN ONE PERSON GET SHAFTED?!?!?!?!? That one always kills me.
Is this a thing you grow out of? I’m turning 40 next year, so I’d better hurry up if that is the case. I’m not desperate to, because as much of an inconvenience it is to be walking down the street with a visibly wobbly lip, it proves I’m alive.
Music has been the centre of my Universe since I heard Reni rip off Clive Stubblefield’s Funky Drummer break on The Stone Roses’ Fools Gold. I was a performing musician from the age of about 14 when my best mate (still hanging in there) and I bought cheap guitars in the bid to form a band. Sport never got its claws into me for which I’m immensely grateful. With music, your teams are pretty much guaranteed a win most of the time, and the chances of a fight breaking out in your stereo speakers is thankfully pretty low.
I’m not sure why I was compelled to share this at this time.
I’m pretty sure it’s Muna’s fault.
Muna are a new all-female American band who’s record About U will not leave my brain, particularly a song called Winterbreak. It’s about a great love, forever doomed to fail because neither of them will refuse to “have one more try”; and it’s heartbreaking.
Cherry by Moose Blood does it as well, but I don’t like the character in that song because it sounds like he did a bad thing (which I’m yet to work out) and will bare the weight of his deeds forever… anyway… emotive songs rule. END. OF.
Jamie Sadler is a screenwriter and lives in Liverpool, England with his wife and son.