Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Guest Post: I Sing The Body Electric

Today's guest post is from Dawn who blogs over on her blog Joyberry Pie.


So this week on Mad Men it was revealed that Don Draper is completely unmoved by music. It does nothing for him, it all sounds the same, it's useless beyond what it can do for him to help to sell a product. I thought that this was a brilliant stroke in his character development because, of course Don Draper has no ear for music. He can't put his penis in it, for one, but seriously, it makes sense because his life is full of pain he's still not ready to negotiate and music is superfluous, a nuisance, a pastime for people who can afford silliness and impracticality or don't know the joy of drowning it all in whiskey. I know people who feel that way, I recognize the type, and I can't relate even a little bit. 

Music moves me like nothing else in the world. It tricks me emotionally, moves me to tears in its power even when it's not sad. I cry more because of music's effect on me more than I cry due any other stimuli, except maybe death of a loved one. Sometimes I cry like a normal person, because I'm sad or overwhelmed or frustrated or hormonal. I'm pretty sure I cried at the birth of my son, but I don't know if I can trust my exhausted memory on that. I didn't cry at my wedding, I don't think I've cried at any wedding ever (except because of the music, I'll get to that later). But a song, any song in the right presentation, can trigger the waterworks in the most embarrassing ways. I'm talking during amateur plays, my toddler's music class, oh christ, youtube clips of flash mobs. I'm so sensitive to swelling and crescendo - if I were a supervillian, this would be my undoing. Show me that bit with the seemingly random people singing from The Sound of Music in the train station and you'll know all my evil secrets by the first time we're brought back to "doe, a deer."

And I know I'm not alone in this (though I sometimes--when I'm the only person snuffling away in a movie theater--I feel mighty alone). It's advertising, it's movie scores, it's memorial montages. Not even Scientific American can really explain this phenomenon, http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=why-does-music-make-us-fe and that's, like, totally science, people. It's sort of fantastic to be caught up in this level of feeling, uncontrollable and inconvenient and inexplicable as it may be. So let's just call it divine something and move on to what this post is really about, which is:

9 Musical Moments in Pop Culture That Move Me To Tears, Every Time

1) Eleanor Rigby by the Beatles

Fuck this song. Never play it around me. I recognize it's one of the best songs ever written, I mean, I'm not a total philistine. But between the heavy strings and the subject matter (nobody came to her funeral! That is ice cold!), I can't do it. I just can't. Revolver is my favorite of all Beatles albums, but I've never once listened to Track 2. 

2) Oh What a Lonely Boy by Andrew Gold

I heard this on the radio when I was a kid, and I listened so hard to the words and it sent me into the biggest depression spiral. I just cried and cried and I couldn't explain to my parents what happened. I mean, in my head there was a swirl of, "HE IS SO LONELY. Why didn't anyone notice? And why you gotta be so upbeat about it, Andrew Gold?" But expressing that at the time, it seemed impossible. I think eventually they got that the song is what made me cry, but I don't think anyone in the world can relate to the sad it inspires in me. 

3) I Sing The Body Electric from the movie Fame


Fame is a totally underrated movie. Not interested in the remake. It's just a terrific, objective, unforced look at a year in the life of performing arts students. There's jealousy and coming out and suicide and abortion and DANCING. And this scene, the finale, the culmination of the year you spend with these kids for better or worse, it just knocks me over every time with the chills factor. 

4) Sunrise Sunset from Fiddler on the Roof

Ah, more childhood trauma. I remember so clearly getting choked up hearing this in the church at my uncle's wedding when I was five. Five years old and I was all, "Oy, the passage of time, so cruel." No but for real this song really broke something in me, and even then I struggled to keep the tears in because I didn't want anyone to see, I didn't want to talk to anyone about why I was . See also: Sabbath Prayer. Or any song from this musical, come to think of it. I mean, even the most celebratory number is disrupted by a fucking pogrom. So just... never see Fiddler on the Roof. I mean, see it, but just know you'll want to kill yourself by the end. It's music that does that.

5) Century Plant by Victoria Williams

I never heard her version of the song, if there is one. There probably is one. But I'm speaking about its appearance in the movie Camp. I was so conflicted about this movie when it came out, and I can't for the life of me remember why. Maybe I thought it was too stereotypical? But I guess that there's a movie at all about a performing arts camp that allows a birthday breakfast party with everyone in drag, gives agency to gay teenagers and features not only a juvenile Anna Kendrick KILLING a number from Company but a real-live cameo from Mr. Stephen Sondheim himself is nothing short of unbelievable. And this scene is climactic in and of itself does me in. What a song, what a performance. Blubbering, commence.

6) The "Maybe" reprise from Annie (this is the original appearance, I can't find the reprise with Daddy Warbucks anywhere. If you've seen it, you know what I'm talking about.)

I saw Annie in the theater when it came out and have no clear recollection of my first experience. But I must have liked it enough to want to see it again because I won a free pass to the cinema in a limbo contest at the roller skating rink (WOW that is a true sentence and I did not even live in Happy Days) and I used it to go see Annie again. My beloved grandfather accompanied me, and I remember getting to this part of the movie and bawling uncontrollably, like gulping for air and snotting all over the place and he gave me one of his ever-present pressed white hankies. God what a gentleman, I miss my Pup so much. ANYWAY if you have a heart this little number affects you, no? 

7) Fix You from Young @heart 


This is another gimme. Anyone with a soul would bawl here. I bawled through the entire movie, but that's just me and my weakness for the elderly. But this number, man. I won't even give you the surround of what leads up to it because it's too gutting. Just be prepared to feel raw.

8) Les Miserables

All of it. Just all of it. Starting from "For God's sake," in this number--and even through the innkeeper number because it's just so goddamn rousing, and "rousing" can sometimes be the stealthiest provocateur in these cases-- and straight through to the end. I would love to see this musical live in a theater, but I don't think my constitution could handle it. 

9) I'll close with the most recent occurrence in my life: the do-over proposal scene from Up All Night. I can't find the link to this scene anywhere unfortunately, so I embedded the entire episode - if you have the inclination fast forward to the last couple of minutes, it's pretty sparkling.

Like I said, I rarely cry at joyous occasions. But all bets are off when a flash mob is involved. And Will and Christina do make a believably wonderful couple. I felt as choked up as she was.

So! Music! Goddamn! It's a comfort to me that while this may be the lamest bit of subject matter this blog has ever showcased, it's not even close to being the lamest thing about me. Thank you Kev for inviting this madness, and giving me a chance to cry all over again as I re-watched each link. 


1 comment:

  1. Oh man, the first three notes of "Maybe" and I'm choking up. And Fame, god. And the do-over proposal? I'm so, so with you, Dawn.