"They say that these are not the best of times
But they're the only times I've ever known
And I believe there is a time for meditation
In cathedrals of our own
Now I have seen that sad surrender in my lover's eyes
And I can only stand apart and sympathize
For we are always what our situations hand us
It's either sadness or euphoria"
Billy Joel, Summer Highland Falls
Goosebumps. It starts with the first notes on the piano followed by the familiar tune on his harmonica and automatically I feel a swelling of emotion somewhere in the pit of my stomach which quickly emanates outwardly until my skin feels vibrantly alive with goosebumps. I can't tell you how often I've listened to the song and I can't even tell you why it resonates with me every single time I hear it. No matter what I'm doing, when Mr. Piano Man begins to play his signature song, my actions slow down as I find myself pulled into his angry young man anthem. By the time he reaches the chorus, I'm singing along with him.
I was 16 years old the first time I saw Billy Joel perform live at Maple Leaf Gardens in Toronto. The Stranger album had just been released and already I had devoured all of his new songs, like I had his previous ones. It was one of the first concerts I had ever attended and by far the most exhilarating. I'll never forget the moment he stepped onto the stage, sat down at his piano and began to play........without his band yet.......the spotlight just on him as he started the set with another song which to this day makes me feel something reserved for only special songs. Summer Highland Falls.............followed by Piano Man. By the time he started into Honesty..........such a lonely word........... I was putty.
The purity of emotion expressed through music is probably the most universal tie we have to one another. We all have our own timbre, our own preferences. Culturally, we are conditioned to respond and react to different sounding instruments, but we all know what its like to hear a tune or a song that takes your breath away, that leaves you feeling the prickling cold heat of emotionally charged goosebumps. When it happens to me now, they are usually accompanied by a rush welling of tears which seem to come from nowhere but end up sliding down my face.
Why is that? Why do the tears come so much more readily when I'm feeling something deeply?
Tonight as I thought about what i wanted to write for this weeks prompt for Sunday Scribblings (goosebumps), music and Billy Joel were my first thoughts but were quickly followed by thinking about other songs which have tugged at the same spot over the past couple of years. Turns out more than a few of them have. And, I took some time to revisit some of them on YouTube just to see if the goosebumps returned......if my memory was serving me correctly. And it did.
I sat back and listened to Andrea Bocelli and Sarah Brightman sing Con te Partiro (Time to Say Goodbye) and felt like it was the first time I had heard it. I felt the goosebumps return when I found Paul Potts sing Nessun Dorma as beautifully as Pavarotti. Harry Chapin's Circle filmed in Hamilton in 1981 just about did me in........I think I may have been at that concert. It has been a goosebump kind of night.
But if I had to pick one song that I happened upon a couple of years ago while listening to Stuart McLean's Vinyl Cafe on the CBC on Sunday morning was a very familiar song remade by a young man (who has since died) and his ukelele. Pure, hopeful, stunningly beautiful. It stopped me in my tracks that morning and I stood in my kitchen, my elbows on the counter, face to the radio, listening...........and feeling those goosebumpy tears again. I want to share it with you...............here's the link. Expect the goosebumps and enjoy as I did again tonight.
For more stories on "goosebumps" take a walk over to Sunday Scribblings.......