Sunday, February 3, 2008

It's a kind of magic

I've been thinking about this prompt for two days but I just can't get past that lyric. Every time I try Freddy Mercury's voice fills my head and Christopher Lambert's sad eyes smile before me. Every. Single. Time. I finally decided that I do not in fact need the universe to hit me over the head with an actual sledgehammer before getting the message, so I am caving to the inevitable and writing about the magic that is music.

At its best, music can transform your very soul. It can raise you up, or cast you down. It can set your feet to tapping and your eyes to dancing. Music can unite, and it can divide. It can be as fleeting as a one-hit wonder, or it can endure for centuries. Did you know that the Animals' song The House of The Rising Sun has roots over 400 years old? It began its life in the 1600's as a song called The Rising Sun, and has grown and changed over the years, until the ubiquitiousness of modern technology caused the Animals' version to implant in all of our brains. As a long-time folkie with a particular affinity for the folk process and the more academic musicology side of the genre (I used to have a recording of 17 different versions of The Unfortunate Rake, probably more familiar to many of you as either the St. James Infirmary Blues or The Streets of Laredo), the way these songs reach out to us through the ages, their staying power, is something that defies rational thought and instead touches something indescribable deep inside of us.

Now you tell me.

Isn't that a kind of magic?

24 comments:

Jeques said...

Indeed, it is, Robin. I'm one of the countless people under music's magical spell. I have the guts of a rabbit when it comes to singing and I don't have the talent, but I always love to listen, I'm an avid music lover.

Music it speaks to the heart.

I wish you well.

~ Jeques

watermaid said...

A really interesting post. Yes, music is magical in the way it can affect our emotions and lift us up when we're feeling down.

Carole

Lucy said...

Absolutely it is Robin! It can magically take you from a low to a high and back again! I LOVE Freddy Mercurys voice and his 'night at the opera' album was my husbands way of 'making a move' on me back in the 70's. I haven't heard the song "king of magic" I will have to check it out!
great post :)

Lea said...

yes... yes... yes... can you hear me singing???

julia said...

Considering I'm listening to Vivaldi's Spring Largo from The Four Seasons - which even non-classical music listeners would recognize - I would tend to agree with you: "The way these songs reach out to us through the ages, their staying power, is something that defies rational thought."

Music's power envelops my life. I get chills when I hear something written centuries ago and it reaches through time to touch us in a present-day performance. I always think about the composer, about what he would think if he could have known that hundreds of years later we'd be tapping our toes and humming the music that he first heard in his mind.

Susan Helene Gottfried said...

Amen, sister.

Hey, did you know that if you do the Kabbalistic trick of adding up the values of the letters that make up the Hebrew word for Song, it equals the same thing as the Hebrew word for prayer?

Things to make you go hmmmm.

Marcia (MeeAugraphie) said...

Music is, I think as strong as love at times. It is magic. I love Freddy's voice as well and The House of the Rising Sun was the first song my brother learned on the guitar. I attempt to sing it all the time.

Cricket's Hearth said...

Yes, music is definitely magic. Music can transport us back in time or move us to tears. I too am a music lover. Blessings, Cricket

Redness said...

OHHHHhhh YESSsssss thank goodness you pondered - that is a brilliant take - absolutely brilliant, music to my soul, THANK YOU! WuHu ;~)

anthonynorth said...

I find that if you can link a story or a song to some memory from the deep past, it catches on more, getting under the skin of the reader or listener.
This is so true with The Animals' House of the Rising Sun. I used to be in a local rock band decades ago, yet this classic is the only one I remember how to play fully.
Now that's magic (not my playing - the memory :-) ).

keith hillman said...

I was suddenly transported back to my childhood and heard my motherplaying 'magic momments' over and over on the gramaphone! Bring back Freddy I say!

Domestic Spaz said...

Absolutely. Music, special sounds, even silence can envoke all kinds of emotions.

Just last night I was listening to our National Anthem being sung at the Super Bowl and I couldn't help the tears. I'm not even much of a patriot... but there was so much emotion in it that it magically transferred to me. :)

Just Jen said...

I had no idea! Glad you caved in because I learned something new and I like that! :D

Rambler said...

You are absolutely right music can do wonders.

paris parfait said...

Absolutely! The staying power of music is incredible.

The Mama Bear said...

What I find most interesting is that I have that same song by Queen in my list of things to discuss soon...
Music is magic.

tumblewords said...

Absolutely, yes! Magical Music.

Marja said...

Music is indeed totally magic It can lift me out of the dark straight aay and I am not able to sit still when hearing music. I am already singing...There is a house... Luckily you can't hear it.

paisley said...

i do agree music has a magical quality all it's own.. it can transport us to places and times we don't even remember until it reminds us... very nice post robin.....

gautami tripathy said...

music uplifts me as nothing else does. musi--pure magic.

UL said...

oh yes, I love music...it is indeed heavenly magic, no matter where, no matter when.

Shannon said...

Music is absolutely magical! Great post!

L the D said...

This was actually my first inclination when I saw this prompt, but Frank Sinatra came to mind. Unfortunately for me, your post came across my Google Reader and I was so enthralled that I couldn't follow it up with anything!

Fourier Analyst said...

Music used to be such a big part of my life. These days less so, and it surprises me that at times I am so moved by a piece of music, either to tear, laughter, reminiscing, or sometimes to move!!