Music-Induced Tears (Brought To You by Scotland)

words and feelings by Shabnam Ferdowsi

Music doesn't make me cry. Sure, the right song with the right minor chords can make me feel sad for no particular reason, but there has never been a song that has moved me whether lyrically or melodically to the point of tears. 

Until 3 weeks ago. 

Hamish James Hawk is an Edinburgh-based artist I met first while I was in St Andrews. He's released some music under Common Records and happened to be there during my little chat with Andrew Pearson (for the Heartbeats feature I wanted to write up). He gave me a copy of his latest album before we went our separate ways and that could have been that. But I decided to give the album a listen that night, and to say I was blown away is an understatement.  I was heading to Edinburgh the day after, so naturally I sent him a Facebook message and we set up a shoot for that Friday. But I digress.

This specific song,"Th Right Amount of Blue", immediately struck some chord in me, and such a strong chord that my heart would start hurting and tears would start welling up five seconds into the song. And this kept happening for days, every single time I listened to it.

Which begged the question: WHY?  I can in no way whatsoever relate to the lyrics. Not in the slightest bit. And he's not even using any minor chords!

So then, is it simply Hawk's  deep and melancholic vocals? The rich guitar sounds? The lyrical storytelling that, even though I can't relate, makes me feel like I can?

Or the combination of the three that, in my mind, sounds like Scotland? And therefore brings the tears because I was so affected by the country and my time there? Yeah, I think I'll go with that. 

Then today, it happened again ("it" being music-induced tears)

I was browsing through older Common Records music when I stumbled onto  a release by Tommy Telescope and the Notorious B.A.M., which I found out was Andrew Pearson's project a couple years ago (2012). Its lo-fi, electronic, wordy, fluttering instrumental goodness had me instantly. 

This one particular song, "Albert The Kid", is a spoken word electronica piece about a phrase spray painted under a bridge that the narrator passes by on the train. 

This is how the song ends, and this is where something happened in my heart/mind:

"And here's the thing that's brilliant / Here's the thing that makes me breathless with excitement / This gender indiscriminate street artist and poet has decided that this phrase, these 5 words that they have found hiding in the corners of their imagination / Are worth something / Worth the paint/ Worth the time / Worth crossing railway lines in the middle of the night just to [crudely dob and write] a written rescue from the oppression of anonymity not with a name but with an idea a feeling as not just another assertion of property but rather a reclamation from property, for poetry. / So whether you can dance or draw or walk the dog with a yo-yo make Albert The Kid a hero for our times and reclaim the streets tonight. "

I'm still figuring out what happened in my mind that brought the tears. I think in the end it's the combination of the beautiful guitar riffs, the fluttering electronic notes, and the words about hope, passion and creativity that made me feel. The street artist felt those words worthy enough to spray them onto a wall, and Andrew Pearson felt impassioned enough, "breathless with excitement" as he says, that he wrote a whole song about it. Thus, leaving me breathless with excitement (to the point of tears), because there's nothing more magical than passion, in my humble opinion.