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Thursday, September 22, 2011

Music Stirs my Soul

Before the men in white coats show up to haul my happy keister to Bellevue, I just have to get this out there. Hearing someone with a beautiful voice singing makes me weep. It's always been that way and I do not understand it.  I'm not a crier, not really.  At least not at "normal" things. But let me hear someone singing and I absolutely cannot stop the tears. WHY?

Of course it's not just anyone who can make me weep - they have to be good.

Since I was a child, I've always been affected by music in one way or another. I remember saying my prayers before bedtime and the last thing, after the God bless mommy and daddy, etc., I would pray was "and please let me be able to sing. Amen."  Well, God answered.  Yep, you guessed it, He said NO. I've been truly heartbroken about it ever since, as if I had music inside me screaming to be let out. And 45, it's apparently still in there and NOT happy about it. I begged for a piano and piano lessons as a child, but somehow that never happened. Not that I would have been good at it, but I guess I'll never know now. I did try the clarinet in junior high band and I didn't suck, but neither was I Pete Fountain or Woody Herman. And while I certainly enjoy really good music (sans vocals) and it can evoke all sorts of feelings and moods in me, it doesn't make me weep. I particularly enjoy Big Band music, jazz, a lonesome Harry James solo, a sexy saxophone.  But again, mood elevating/happy/sad/melancholy feelings aside, I still don't weep.

I'm not good at determining how long ago something occurred, but if it's really important that I pinpoint it, I can usually do that through music.  I seem to relate everything back to a certain song that was popular, or the last time I heard a specific song. Or the first time I heard it.

I remember vividly the first time I ever heard Ray Price sing.  I remember where I was, what street we were driving down, what the back seat of that car smelled like (my brother ALWAYS got to ride in front.) Stupid things - every single detail. I was so struck by his voice, I couldn't even ask who it was until the song ended. And anyone who knows me knows Ray Price is the closest to becoming a "groupie" I ever came. I think I can tell you where I was the first time or the last time I heard ANY song I've ever heard before. WHY?

I've gotten to the point of making sure I am alone if I get sucked down the YouTube rabbit hole because I will always end up listening to a song that makes me cry.  Same with the singing contest TV shows. Or even the National Anthem before a game. If not, I'll be teased for sure.  Thing is, the tears aren't an indication of sadness or even envy that they can sing and I can't.  It's deeper. It's like a supernatural joy that's totally indescribable. It touches something in me so deep that I'm not sure what to even call it.  Heart?  No, deeper. Core? Maybe. Special place in my brain? Probably. It's what I think of when I hear someone describe a "religious" experience.

Ever hear LeAnn Rimes singing Amazing Grace a cappella? YouTube it. Or Perry Como singing Temptation? Or Tony Bennett singing For Once in My Life?  Last night, there was a little girl named Rachel Crow on The X Factor premier - first one up - who did it to me.  Then another woman singing Natural Woman. And I wept.  I'm using weep and wept because crying really doesn't cut it.  "Crying" is too close to the surface. "Weep" seems somehow deeper. I don't make any sounds - just the tears streaming down my face and the silent sobs. Oddly, it doesn't even matter what the lyrics are, it's the sound of the voice. Pavarotti does it to me and I don't speak Italian. Charlotte Church (as a child) singing anything a cappella does it to me and I can never understand a word she's singing, even if it's in English.

Seriously, am I nuts? Does music affect other people like this?

So I googled. Can't help it.  It's what I do.

And I came up with an interview with an author of a book called The Power of Music - Elena Mannes in which she asserts:

"...scientists have found that music stimulates more parts of the brain than any other human function."

Well, I believe it. And now I have another book to add to my ever-growing reading list.

And I really need to stay off of YouTube.

Is Bellevue still there?  Wonder if you can self-admit?




  2. Music can make me weep on a dime as well. Especially in the event that the song is connected to a memory or thoughts of particular people and events!

    Sorry your prayer was answered no!

  3. Singing-wise, Eva Cassidy has this effect on me, but no-one else. Music-wise it has to be Enya - Fairy Tale.

  4. I fell in love with music when I was 7 and I heard Boris Gardiner singing. It was like he reached inside me and flicked a switched to "On", then broke off that switch and threw it away. I learned how to play Keyboard, drums, bass guitar and acoustic fingerstyle because of that man. I've been a musician for twenty odd years and I am still madly in love with it. As I already mentioned in my last comment, no-one can make me weep like Eva Cassidy, there is such powerful sadness in her voice that seems to connect with me on a primal level. And Enya's masterpiece "Fairy Tale" just knocks the wind out of me every time I hear it. I'm glad I found this tiny corner of the web with these lovely thoughts, it makes me realize I'm not the only one capable of being so musically empathetic.


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