Is it in the melodies?
Is it in the harmonies?
Is it in the rhythms or the instrumentals?
Is it the lyrics?
Whatever it is, there are times when the components come together in a piece of music to leave you with goosebumps all over, the hairs on the back of your neck raised in salutation to the splendour of it, and your heart feeling as though it’s contracting and squeezing within you in deep, visceral recognition of the sheer beauty there instilled.
It’s the same as the feeling you get when you see motes of dust dancing in gold sunbeams deep within the dappled stillness of a pine forest, or look out on the beach at dusk, in the sunset, holding hands with someone you love, watching the ever-changing colours roll across the breaking waves.
It’s the feeling you get when you remember a lost, treasured loved one and conjure up their scent and the way they used to make you feel. My Grandad, always ready with a fun story of his times as a London Fireman (usually with him up to some hi-jinks, like cheating on the cross-country race the station once participated in), smelled of Old Holborn tobacco, and his clothes were always smart. His eyes were always lively and twinkly, and he was ever doting.
When he came to babysit us, he used to listen patiently to Mum, nodding along as she gave him lists of instructions about what we were to be doing, not doing, what time in bed by, and as soon as (sometimes before) she was out of the door, he’d scoff “Pfeaaaaaah!” and we’d all get on with the business of having FUN. His favourite CD (that I remember him listening to at our house, anyway) was by a group called ‘The Spinners’, and of their tracks, this was my favourite. I think he may even have used to sing it to us sometimes, along with the other songs he’d sing us as he tucked us in – folk songs, mostly.
This version, very cleverly done by the group, rends my heart and reminds me of him, and I love that I’m passing on the tradition by including it (as I learn the correct words) as one of the repertoire I sing in the dark and the quiet to Niece and Neff when they come for a sleepover, feeling their sleepy bodies snuggled against me, and their breathing slow down as they drift off to dreamland, hearing a tune which holds such history.
Then there are the feelings you get when you have a moment of pure joy with a small child you love. Or maybe a grown child, even – I wouldn’t know, but I know that after a weekend of feeling miserable, the sheer number, depth of warmth within, and long, drawn-out-hugginess of the hugs I had with Neff quite made my heart swell near to bursting point, and I nearly cried down the poor lad’s back.
To know that there is a young boy (rapidly growing into a Big Boy – nearly 6! Wow!) who is still prepared to crack a grin at the sight of me, run into my arms and wrap himself around me, face snuggled deeply into my neck, for minutes at a time, is precious indeed, and I consider myself completely blessed by his (and his sister’s) presence in my life.
There are times, then, when there is nothing in Real Life to relate to, yet somehow the music and the story it tells (not to mention the bass-line it plays) is enough to keep you slightly off kilter and falling ever more in love with the sound each time you play it.
Then there are the songs which haunt you, for no apparent reason, other than you found them, and somehow they worked their spell in you, wove a pattern into your psyche, and now each note resonates deeply, vibrantly, causing your thought patterns to fall into now-accustomed paths as you listen.
And just occasionally, you happen across a song which stretches luxuriously into the very furthest reaches of your mind and soul, rising higher and higher, taking you with it, flying in your mind as the notes expand into reality from the disc, profoundly exquisite, ephemeral, melting through your ears and making the rest of the world fade away, your surroundings becoming nothing, until all that matters is the music, and even though you can go back and play it again, as many times as you like, it resonates with such pure beauty that you grieve when it ends.