It’s all radio presenter Nick Abbot’s fault. On a recent podcast, he mentioned finding himself with a tear in the eye when listening to David Gilmour’s second guitar solo on Pink Floyd’s ‘Comfortably Numb’ in his car.
But it’s a subject almost totally ignored in print outside of scientific works: music’s effect on the body and mind. If you love it, surely it’s supposed to create a molecular change.
The last few years may also have precipitated a more emotional relationship to music than usual, despite the current industry obsession with data and algorithms.
So, hide the onions and pass the sick bag: here are a few tracks from the 1980s that may have occasionally been known to put a lump in this correspondent’s throat, driven by nostalgia, musical excellence, loss of innocence and who knows what else.
19. Tina Turner: ‘Private Dancer’
She wants a husband and some kids but somehow the music tells you that the protagonist is never going to get out from under…
18. Johnny Gill: ‘Half Crazy’
17. Keith Jarrett: ‘Spirits 2’
16. The Kids From Fame: ‘Starmaker’
15. Peter Gabriel: ‘Lead A Normal Life’
Hard to think of a piece of music that better expresses loneliness, but there’s compassion too.
14. Christopher Cross: ‘Sailing’
13. Blondie: ‘Atomic’
12. The Pretenders: ‘Hymn To Her’
11. Art Pepper: ‘Our Song’
Gratuitous sax and violins. Recorded 18 months before his death, inspired by meeting his widow Laurie, Pepper seeks redemption for a largely selfish, itinerant life – does he find it? He tries bloody hard.
10. Jaco Pastorius: ‘John & Mary’
9. Pino Donaggio: ‘Blow Out (closing titles)’
The melody maestro’s beautiful theme from Brian De Plasma’s 1981 film starring John Travolta and the director’s then-wife Nancy Allen. A critic once said that her character’s death in the movie is the first one De Palma seems to care about – Donaggio’s music is the reason.
8. Madonna: ‘Oh Father’
7. David Bowie: ‘Absolute Beginners’
It’s the hope, not the despair. Maybe THIS time it’s all going to work out, ‘just like in the films’…
6. David Sanborn: ‘Imogene’
5. Dexter Gordon/Herbie Hancock: ‘Still Time’
The double meaning of Herbie’s title says it all – Dexter’s beautiful soprano playing is fragile yet also somehow ageless.
4. Prefab Sprout: ‘Moving The River’
3. Janet Jackson: ‘Livin’ In A World (They Didn’t Make)’
Just for the sheer beauty of Jam and Lewis’s composition. Janet’s words augment that.
2. Scritti Politti: ‘Oh Patti (Don’t Feel Sorry For Loverboy)’
1. The Police: ‘Driven To Tears’ (only joking – that’s enough tearjerkers… Ed.)
If you’ve got the stomach for it, chime in with your tearjerkers below.