It's also an emotional inlet, in that listening to can trigger highly emotional reactions. Perversely, if I'm going through a stressful time, or need time with my thoughts, I can't listen to much music. I need the silence, to hear an idea rattling against the cage and give it some voice.
But there are several pieces of music that have - from my first listen - prompted tears, a joyful release that is incomparable. If it weren't for their incongruity, they'd make the ultimate playlist whenever I felt like I needed a good cry that would lift my spirits. There are others, but these are the ones that come to mind:
- The Flower Duet from Lakme: Whether it's a British Airways commercial or an angelic opera compilation, those high-note harmonies are the primary trigger.
- Ave Maria: Probably from my earliest recollections, at a regular mass I'd attended as a child; later, for weddings and, sadly, funerals.
- Another Train: By the Poozies. These women are doozies when it comes to harmony, with nary an instrument to keep them on pitch.
- Bohemian Rhapsody: The first time I heard this song, I turned the volume of my tinny little radio all the way up, drinking in every note, thrilling at the stylistic changes and operatic choral parts.
- Bridge Over Troubled Water: Like some cliche from an after-school special, over and over I played this Simon and Garfunkel song as a college freshman, when I felt weary, down and out, or just plain homesick.
- We Belong Together: Pat Benatar was a constant during the 80s, but it's that children's chorus, dammit, that gets me every time.
- Rilo Kiley's A Better Son/Daughter: A former coworker included this on a mix CD and while it triggered some tears on the first listen, it helped me stand tall as I left a job that I hated.
- Skateaway, by Dire Straits: It's the off-handed softness of this melody and how it just slips out of Mark Knopfler, who could probably pen a jingle for potato chips that would make me tear up, too.
- Breakfast in America by Supertramp: There's a tuba, or a trombone, that is just such a surprise, it gives me a little catch in my throat each time I hear it.
- They Say It's Spring, as warbled by Blossom Dearie: First discovered on the Target commercial a few years ago, each springtime since at the arrival of the first cherry blossom, I play it and tip my hat to this girlish-sounding jazz maven.