Tuesday, January 01, 2008

"I hear music when I look at you...

...a beautiful theme of every dream I ever knew." The Song Is You by Frank Sinatra.

Do you ever hear a song that is only instrumental but you can almost taste the words--but they just escape you?

There are three songs that always get me that way. I don't think any of them actually ever had words. They are My Father's Favorite from Sense and Sensibility, Anne's Theme from Anne of Green Gables, and Karen's Theme by The Carpenters. All are piano (primarily) in their original performance, and all of them are part of a larger story. But the music itself simply speaks--and you can imagine a phrase or word or expression in it--though never the entire thing, and never long enough to write down or even really put into verse.

I think what makes them so striking is the people or story behind them--I like to think that the music speaks for itself, but since I have only ever heard since I knew the context, I cannot tell.

My Father's Favorite is a song performed by Kate Winslet as Marianne, though the redition of it in the soundtrack from Sense and Sensibility includes a prelude and interlude all of which circle the theme itself but is "soundtrack" and not the song as performed by Marianne. It sends me straight to the beautiful solitude of melancholy, like walking alone in a tree-lined space, with no one around you. Yet it is refined, almost formal in its sweetness. It is precisely the feeling one gets when you get to walk around outside while still being well dressed. It's the kind of song that plays in your head when you are quite, quite alone--and happy to be. There is a certain emptiness, as if something is missing, but there is always time for that tomorrow, and till then, I can be quite content. It is a song which brings out emotion and poetry. (The picture was taken in Harper's Ferry, WV)

Anne's Theme from Anne of Green Gables has a bit more thoughtful. It has more philosophy in the sound--the kind of song bringing you to realize the value of friendship or love, or something equally priceless. There is a little less formality in this song, and it allows you to be a real person, who would trip or make mistakes, or have an accident, and possibly get mud on your clothes. There is ocean in this song, and wind, and laughter and sorrow. (The picture is from near Guilford, CT.)

Karen's Theme, by The Carpenters, is possibly the sweetest sad song ever to be played on a piano. Partly probably because of the story of Karen Carpenter (she and her brother sang and recorded hundreds of songs together and were very popular throughout the 70s, but died from anorexia and other eating disorders when she was 32.) this song is so sorrowful, yet containing nods to various Carpenters songs (you will hear measures from "Solitaire," "Top Of The World," and "Rainbow Connection" to name a few in this piece) which seems to celebrate a life that touched many people. It is a sweet and innocent song, that always makes me think of The Secret Garden, or some other place of solitude, where one can sit and think and simply BE for a while. (The picture is from Purcellville, VA.)

I see that my description of all these songs explained their melancholy, or sorrow. They do have that aspect--which is part of what makes them so thoughtful--but there is another aspect, a hopeful, sweet, smiling sound in these songs, which makes them anything but depressing. How can something so sad be so encouraging too?

Isn't it ironic?

1 comment:

MagistraCarminae said...

Music manages to touch that part of us that can't be put into words, doesn't it? It isn't that music is less than words: it is more.