No Movies of The Mind
The very first job I ever had was in radio and to this day I hear certain songs and I’m transported back to those days. Music is powerful; it has the ability to send you to another place unlike anything else.
I know I’m getting old: I don’t think music today has the powerful lyrics of some of the best music from years ago. I’m not a Dylan fan but you cannot talk about movies of the mind and not mention Bob.
“Tears in Heaven” is a ballad written by Eric Clapton and Will Jennings about the pain Clapton felt following the death of his four-year-old son, Conor, who fell from a window of the 53rd-floor New York apartment of his mother’s friend, on March 20, 1991.
The song is devastating… mostly because the first twenty times you hear it you think it’s simply a lovely ballad — perhaps it even drags a bit. Then you’re online or with a friend and you learn the horrible truth. If it doesn’t bring tears to your eyes the next time you hear it, you’re not even human. But no, no, it’s not a movie of the mind.
Of course, folks more talented than me have been painting word pictures for years. Otis Redding’s movie of the mind was released posthumously in 1968. I am not the person to say if the song has aged well but “Sittin’ on The Dock of The Bay” is a fine example of older music that plants images in your mind. 1968 is so long ago even I can’t remember it on the radio. But I’m sure these movies of the mind were common centuries ago.
Did I mention the getting old part? Oh yeah. Sorry, memory is the second thing to go. So I decided to open my iTunes and visit the Music Store. I went through the current top ten in search of a movie of the mind. I like light-weight pop so I was pleased to see Bruno Mars has two songs in the top ten. But no images flickered in closed eyes..
Of course, this should not come as a surprise. By definition, a movie of the mind is going to be lyric focused and today’s hits are melody focused. Yes, there are exceptions but right now on the American version of the iTunes Music Store there is nothing in the top ten that planted a picture in my mind.
The truth is that major broadcast corporations around the world are playing the same fifty songs (mostly). I remember my first visit to Moscow, most of the music was the same as Kiss FM, Los Angeles. Same thing goes for music in Italy and Cyprus. Perhaps I exaggerate? Here is a link for Energy FM (I like this station). Scroll down the page and look at the top music. You don’t need to speak Pa Russkie, just look at the album covers. This is a loss… no regional music, no regional culture, no movies of the mind.
‘When you tell me that you love me’…
This will probably be my shortest blog ever as the topic is too strong.
There’s a song by Julio Iglesias and the country diva Dolly Parton called just like the title of my blog.
It is very tender and soft. The tune is just brilliant. The lyrics reminds me my wife, Ira, and so much love that I feel for her.
‘Every time you touch me, I become a hero,
I’ll make you safe no matter where you are’.
It always plays in my mind when I think of her.
This is probably it. Nothing much to say. Too powerful.
This is the movie of my life and I’m acting in it now.
Movies of the mind
I’ve never been a great lyrics chap – I worry more about melodies, harmonies, chord structures, rhythms and arrangements. I doubt there’s more than a couple of songs of which I know the complete words. And “Happy Birthday” doesn’t really cut the mustard.
So I’m really limited in finding a song where I can close my eyes, where each word means something very special, and a great storyline appears. But I do have one, and it’s the only other song where I know the entire lyrics. All four lines of them!
The song is simply called “Music” and was written by British songwriter John Miles back in 1975. He remains the only rock artiste I have ever seen in concert. Once.
And I actually remember the words…….
Music was my first love, and it will be my last,
Music of the future, and music of the past,
To live without my music, is impossible to do,
So in this world of trouble, my music pulls me through.
So what’s so special about this song, and why does it mean so much to me? I have always found it a very moving piece, and also quite different from anything else recorded at that time. It’s a mixture of ballad and rock, with soft vocals effortlessly leading into hard guitar riffs, with one section having seven beats to the bar, instead of the regular 4. Cool! As a romantic, I find some of the orchestration quite beautiful, with the final rousing climax building into an orchestral masterpiece. As soon as it became popular, my band started playing it, and for a piano player like me, it was a joy to perform.
Decades later, I was the musical director of a choir made up of homeless or addicted people who had simply lost their way. Singing provided a weekly release from their difficult lives. For my farewell concert with them, I was looking for a complex piece in which to show off how far they’d come. On YouTube, I saw a concert by the very same John Miles, who performed this song with a huge orchestra and massive choir. I became emotional at this brand new arrangement, and immediately thought of my own choir. Let’s do it!
Months of practice later, we did just that, and it was a triumph, culminating in a standing ovation at a sell-out performance at Jersey Opera House.
So now, whenever I hear this song, the words remind me that most of my life has been dominated, and enriched by music, particularly when on stage, and I also think of those wonderful people whose lives had been so horrible for so long, and who gleaned so much pleasure from……Music.