We just did the happy song, so now it’s time for the sad song. Similar to the angry song, there are a couple of ways to go about this. Either you pick a song to wallow around in your sadness with (which is where all the broken heart songs make their money), or you pick a song to pull you out of the well. I can go either way, and sad songs tend to be far more topical than happy songs, and even angry songs. Got dumped? There’s a song for that. Lost a friend or loved one? There’s a song for that. Broke? Yep. Cheated on? Oh hell yeah.
I’ll go in a different direction.
Thomas Tallis, composer – Spem in Alium
Spem in Alium is a motet from the late 1500s. I first heard it walking through a record store many years ago, when we still had record stores. The classical (and new age) section was in the basement of the shoppe, and it was usually sparsely browsed by audiophiles. I loved the place. They usually had a bunch of CDs on clearance, and I got several boxed sets for cheap. This CD, however, I paid full price for. The basement had great acoustics, and it also had a great sound system built into the ceiling. The effect of this piece being played was amazing. I went straight to the counter, said “I want that please” and forked over my $15. I still have the CD, a Hyperion 20th Anniversary edition of a Winchester Cathedral Choir recording, David Hill conducting. I have not found a FLAC version of the performance, sadly, so I make do with a redbook rip for digital purposes.
Fine, I’ll address it. Spem in Alium found its way into Fifty Shades of Grey, written in by author EL James as a favourite piece of character Christian Grey to practice his… hobby… to. This of course sent it to the top of the UK classical charts. “Overwhelming,” according to Anastasia Steele. This isn’t a common choice for music to have sex to, of course, but I won’t deny that it has several climaxes. (Groan.) I’ll stick to Marvin Gaye and Barry White, or less bombastic classical pieces, thanks.
Final note: Sir Terry Pratchett “stated several times that, when he dies, he wished to hear Thomas Tallis’s Spem in alium played in the background”. I have no doubt that the Good Lord obliged Sir Terry and had Tallis himself conducting a choir of cherubim and seraphim for him.