As a child of the 80s, I was raised into the New Wave era. Don’t get me wrong, I love 80s music. From my totally biased point of view, no good music emerged after the 80s signed off. That’s the catch, because I can objectively say that they made damned good music a long time before 1980.
While the soundtrack of my life is littered and scarred with pop and rock and country, classical music accentuates the highs and lows. Perhaps reflecting the dominant darker side of my muse, the cello has the unique ability to rip my soul bare. Its mournful tone takes me down to my base humanity, and gives me permission to drop all my shields. There are many, many weighty shields to lay down.
Le carnaval des animaux: Le Cygne. Carnival of Animals. The Swan. The first time I heard this, no one needed to tell me what it was about. I didn’t know what it was called. But I knew that this was a swan song, a dirge. A celebration of life and a passing all at once, the lilting piano in the background supports the thick cello-string farewells. This is one of the few things that can bring me to tears. I played it on infinite loop after my first heartbreak, until there were no more heaving, hacking teenage tears left to cry.
The Rach 3. More formally, Sergei Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 3 in D minor. This piece of music is my secret theme song. I’ve always found it to be fascinatingly complex, and have found both triumph and rage in it at various points in my life. It’s not quite brooding, but there’s a controlled fury in the music that lends itself to times when passions demand expression. If I could play the piano, I’d spend a lot of time trying to play this piece. I’d need to, give that it’s reputedly one of the most difficult piano pieces around.
Air on a G String is one of the more popular violin pieces in existence. More properly “Air” from Orchestral Suite No. 3 in D Major, BWV 1068, Bach’s instantly recognizable masterpiece is a staple of weddings everywhere. I like to think of music as life’s soundtrack, and this is what a good day would sound like to me. At the end of the day, we all do the best we can with the time we’re given. “Air” is to me the sound of friends talking over a beer after work, couples making love by the fireplace, a long walk during a cool night, playing with your faithful dog on the beach at the break of dawn. It’s the sound of birds flying through the air, rain falling through a canopy of majestic trees, gentle waves caressing the sandy shore, the smell of newly-baked bread being taken from the oven. It’s strange that one tune can be all these things, but that’s exactly what this one is to me.