I remember being told a story, years ago, about going into a shop and having everyone stop what they were doing because a song came on. Being a story from a long time ago, I don’t remember any of the details, who it was or where they were shopping or why, but I do remember the name of the album that the song was on: Everyone is Here by the Finn Brothers. What I don’t remember is what particular song it was. I think it was Edible Flowers, but here’s the thing – most of the songs on that album can just make you stop and listen. So really, if it hadn’t been Edible Flowers, there are several other candidates which could genuinely stop one dead in their tracks.
But for me, there’s a lot of music like this. There’s a certain tone of music that, if I listen to it, I have to stop and listen to it. It’s not quite hypnotic, it’s not a hindrance or anything, it’s just a thing that some songs do. When these songs play, it’s almost as if I am drawn to them though, compelled to listen and sometimes even hum or sing along. There are times when listening to a song is almost like chasing a high from medication. Not that I’d know, to be honest, I’ve never taken a mind-altering drug, but there is a strange addiction to some songs that gives me a vague idea what that would be like.
In fact, if I’m sitting at my laptop listening to music, I might just space out. Like I just did while listening to Decks Dark by Radiohead. I just sat there, perfectly still and definitely not writing this article.
I’m not even sure what components of a song will make me do that. I thought perhaps it was just mesmerizing vocals or simply just how some songs are basically lullabies, but that’s really not the case.
For example, the track Ghosts of Void from the Warframe soundtrack has vocals, but it’s not the vocals that draw me in. It’s the strange harmonies in the background. Listening to that song is like sitting in a beautiful palace, all on my own, while instruments play themselves. It’s somewhat amazing that Ghosts of Void is part of the soundtrack for a space ninja game where you murder thousands on a daily basis.
Most of the songs that make me stop though are either by Radiohead or by Crowded House. Or by the two main songwriters for Crowded House, Neil Finn and Tim Finn. All the aforementioned artists are known for their beautiful tracks, but some of them still catch me off guard. Especially if I forget about them and then they suddenly play on Spotify or something. This happened with the song Only Talking Sense by the Finn Brothers. I hadn’t heard the song in years and then proceeded to listen to Only Talking Sense on loop for about an hour. Seriously when Neil and Tim Finn work together, it’s just… blissful.
Non Radiohead/Finn songs that do this to me are somewhat more varied, but it’s still the same sort of lullaby effect. Particles by Nothing But Thieves and Radio Silence by Turin Brakes are two notable tracks.
The number one song that really makes me stop though is Pyramid Song, on the album Amnesiac by Radiohead. There is something about that song that forces me to stop and listen. It’s such a cold, eerie song about something clearly traumatic, but it’s so beautiful as well.
The saddest thing though is that the emotions I feel while listening to these songs, I feel like I can’t actually share them with anyone else. Most people will hear these songs and either think that they’re nice and that’s about it, or that I have a weird and stupid taste in music. It’s nigh impossible to actually share how I feel…