Don’t you just love it when you hear a piece of music and it makes the hairs on your arms, neck, back – whatever – stand on end? And isn’t it amazing that the same piece of music can do it over and over again? This morning, on a whim, I put on Babylon’s Burning by The Ruts. Bang! Instant thrill, which intensified as the main guitar riff kicked in. A forgotten gem, but it’s going on my regular playlist from now on.
It set me thinking about other tunes that do the same, and wondering if it’s the music itself, or whether it’s a memory associated with the music, that is the cause of the whole hair-standing-on-end thing. For example, if I hear Go For It by Stiff Little Fingers (SLF) or The Dambusters March, I’m immediately transported to the times I’ve been waiting for SLF to come on stage, and I get severe goosebumps. So that’s definitely the memory – though both pieces of music are thrilling in their own right.
But then, if I hear something like the bass solo in Blondie’s Atomic, or John Paul Jones’ burbling bass line in Ramble On, that’s definitely the music. Same when I hear Hendrix playing Hey Joe. Is the response to them because they’re all well known, classic pieces of music that are deeply embedded in a common consciousness?
I dare say I shouldn’t forget classical music, and the fact that it can have the same effect. 1812 Overture anyone? Or Grieg’s Morning, Holst’s Mars, Rodrigo’s Concierto De Aranjuez or Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake are all incredibly powerful pieces, in different ways.
And it’s not just the instruments that can have the effect. Cousin Jack by Show Of Hands, Dylan’s The Hurricane – even Flower of Scotland – not only give me goosebumps but can also move me to tears. Lyrics are so important, and I think that every human emotion has been captured by someone at some time – you just need to want to go and find the songs that “speak” to you.