A few weeks ago, Nick Clegg admitted to weeping to particular songs. Of course, messageboards were typically cynical in their responses, many just saying that Clegg himself made them cry. One 'Evil McBad' on the 'Guardian' website actually gave Clegg's top 30 , all songs entitled 'Liar'.....I didn't know there were that many.

   In the 'Guardian' following this, many critics described those songs that made them cry and I didn't find one that I empathised with. Hardly surprising, given the highly personal nature of responses to music. I could recommend songs so imbued with poignant melancholy I believe it would have all listeners dyhydrating instantly ; however, I feel certain few would agree.

   In terms of instrumental music, I'd have to say that Abdullah Ibrahim's 'The Wedding' and Weather Report's 'A Remark You Made' would be certain selections. Both possess a strange sadness which confounds and both 'speak' more profoundly than any words.

   Yet, that's probably me : I no doubt imagine a script to accompany the sax or piano phrasing which is unique. When it comes to lyrics, I'm sure it's even more a matter of individual reactions. I have no albums by Scots singer-songwriter and leftie Dick Gaughan, yet his version of Adrian Mitchell's poem 'Vistor Jara of Chile' always leaves me teary-eyed.

   Because I love the poem and recall Mitchell's gentle sing-song reading of it and because I know a good deal about what happened to Jara and the terrible tragedy of it, I identify completely with the song. To hear Gaughan's gruff-edged voice sing about Jara's hands as 'gentle' and 'strong' accentuates those feelings.

   It's definitely the same with Gorky's Zygotic Mynci and their song 'Sometimes the Father is the Son' from the album 'Barafundle'. I have no doubt that this song takes me back to Aberystwyth when I was a boy and my uneasy relationship with my own father. The song summons up waves and beaches and a relationship which can be toppled upside down.

   Because my wife is from Belfast. Because I was once dismissed as a 'heathen' there. Because I know there are so many borders in N. Ireland and we broke through one of them by marrying, when priests gave us 'less than a year', I have to say that Christy Moore's 'North and South '( written with Bono and Edge) is one of the most moving of all. More than any other, this bring togetherthe personal and political in a single image.

   It's about love which reaches across the 'river' (literally a border between Catholic and Protestant in Derry City). It's also a song in which Moore comes to terms with his own rebel past. It is an admission that, for too long, both sides have played the 'same old tune'. I think this could be the theme tune for the likes of Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness, though in the end it's a matter of love conquering those barriers , not political compromise.

   Nowadays it's much more likely that a female singer-songwriter will move me to weepdom, especially Thea Gilmore. Also, it's much less easy to say why in the case of songs like her masterful 'Slow Journey II' from the album 'Harpo's Ghost'.

   It has a cloud-climbing quality and reminds me of many dreams I have had, though not precisely. It is lonely, dark and haunting and , above all, full of yearning. It doesn't link immediately with any memory or experience I've had, rather a shared emotion. Above all, there is the cello (my favourite instrument) that other 'voice' suggesting a search but no definite destination, except perhaps the end of a dream.

   Music can be happened upon in the most unusual circumstances. Sometimes rather unlikely places make for a more exhilarating experience than any gig or concert.

                                    PIPER ON THE FERRY

Climbing high up
on the ship
across the Irish Sea,
rocking and rolling
the wake no dead,
seagulls scavenging.

Above the decks,
loungers, bars, cabins,
to the funnel
and its sickly fumes.

Nearby, playing on his own,
no audience applauding,
no hat pleading ;
the Uillean piper.

Making the waves dance
a jig then a reel,
finding the airs
there in the breeze,
foam on his lips,
breath a banner blown.

He has no cares,
the piper keening, crying
to the gulls
to follow the up-flow
of music raising our wings
as they grow.

04/24/2011 13:35

If Cardiff end up in the premiership playoffs no doubt you will be reduced to tears whatever song is playing as you trudge out of wembley after the final whistle


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