Songs that get me every time

This blog is so named as an acknowledgement of that special power that some songs possess, to give us an intense emotional jolt. Songs at their best are revelatory, in all sorts of ways. They make us laugh, cry (or both), present us with truths we never even knew we didn’t know, shocking, inspiring or merely entertaining us, but always revealing to us something no matter how small, about ourselves.

I thought I would take stock of some songs that definitely get me every time, or at least did at one one time, get me every time… for a time.

White Wine In The Sun – Tim Minchin

I don’t tend to go in for overtly ‘funny’ music. Tim Minchin however expertly mixes music and comedy, and his writing is so expertly crafted that I can’t help making an exception.

Being from Australia, Minchin’s song is if nothing else, a good reminder that not everywhere is a snow-covered winter wonderland at Christmas (as if Band Aid’s ‘Do They Know Its Christmas?’ hadn’t made it clear enough).

Beyond that though, its possessed of a lovely conversational tone.

“I really like Christmas, its sentimental I know, but I just really like it.”

…and it certainly chimes (pun 100% intended) with my own feelings about Christmas. There is a neat juxtaposition between cynicism in the verses,

“and yes, I have all of the usual objections to consumerism, the commercialisation of an ancient religion…”

and the choruses which acknowledge Christmas as a time for family.

“I’ll be seeing my Dad, my brothers and sisters my Gran and my Mum, they’ll be drinking white wine in the sun.”

But its the bridge and what happens afterwards which is the real sucker-punch for me, where the lyrics shift focus from Minchin himself, to his daughter Violet.

“And you, my baby girl, my jet-lagged infant daughter… when you’re twenty-one or thirty-one, and Christmas comes around, and you find yourself nine thousand miles from home. You’ll know what ever comes, your brothers and sisters and me and your mum will be waiting for you in the sun.”

The music knowingly brings out the emotive big guns which give these lyrics a little extra push (as if that were needed).

I could go on, but I’d rather you just give it a listen yourself and hopefully you’ll see what I mean. It may do nothing for you, but at least we can say we tried. So, rather than labour the point, I’ll leave you with a list of other notable emotion-jerkers (in my humble opinion) on various subjects including time, friendship, war, love and murdering superstars. Some are fairly obvious in their mode of emotional manipulation, others perhaps not, but all for me represent something special in terms of lyrical and musical writing that has at one point or another, reduced me to little more than a blubbing fool.

The Right Moment – Gerry Rafferty

One Minute – Judie Tzuke

Friends of Ours – Elbow

Harry Patch (In Memory Of) – Radiohead

1952 Vincent Black Lightning – Richard Thompson

If The World Ends – Guillemots

Don’t Give Up – Peter Gabriel

Lover You Should’ve Come Over – Jeff Buckley

Laura – Bat For Lashes

 

There… I’m sure there are plenty more, and I’m sure I’ll write more about such things as this blogs continues. All the songs mentioned above can be found here.

Bibliography

True, E (2014) “White Wine in the Sun by Tim Minchin – a Christmas song for the non-believers.” Online at https://www.theguardian.com/music/2014/dec/23/white-wine-in-the-sun-by-tim-minchin-a-christmas-song-for-the-non-believers

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