Monthly Archives: September 2014

What’s in a piece of music?


I don’t know why pieces of music come into my head and I can’t get them out. Maybe they are reminders of times gone by, or associations with various moods, people and events or maybe they are just what we need at that point in time.

Music is a tremendous mood altering experience. A piece of music can transform a quiet morning before work into a buzz that lasts throughout the day, with the piece playing on repeat all day in your head.

As a student at university I used music particularly before exams or when I wasn’t feeling particular confident about whatever I was doing (speeches, writing dissertations etc.) and it’s something I’ve carried into my later life to give me a certain buzz when I need a bit of a pick me up.

But what draws us to a piece of music? What makes us want to hear it at that point in time. Is it something like our craving for food? The knowledge or at least the thought that once we’ve eaten it that it satisfies us and makes us feel full.

Perhaps music brings us comfort through familiarity, there are many pieces I heard in my childhood that bring back certain memories, as I’ve mentioned a few times, ‘Video Killed the Radio star’ floods back the memories of my mum, because that is the first song I can truly remember hearing and her singing.

I do have a few songs in my head at the moment, they are:

New York State of Mind from the Shea Park concert with Billy Joel and Tony Bennett. You don’t need to hear another version of the song after hearing that one, its hair on the back of your neck standing up rendition.

La Chaleur by Bertrand Belin, a French song which I do not even know the translation to but it just sounds so beautiful with such a haunting melodic quality to it. The title literally translates as ‘The Heat’. It feels like gentle waves rolling over you. 

Rent by the Pet Shop Boys, a song from my childhood. Just a nice upbeat track. Interestingly after doing a bit of research it’s a bit of a misconception that this one is about rent boys. Neil Tennant actually describes the song as about a heterosexual couple with the song coming from a wife who is singing to her husband.

Video Killed the Radio Star by The Buggles, my earliest childhood memory really and I don’t have that many very early memories (that I can remember anyway). This song was the first music video ever shown on the music channel MTV back in 1981 at 12.01 am.

Music plays such a powerful part in our lives, probably so much more powerful than we actually imagine.

IJS 26/09/2014