Stupid Tuesday questions, Julia Roberts’ leftovers edition
Yesterday on the way home from lunch with a colleague, I was surprised to hear the song The Girl In the Corner on my car stereo.
Not that I should have been surprised, mind you. I was listening to Lyle Lovett’s Road to Ensenada after all, and Girl In the Corner is on that album — always has been, always will be. Still, it always sneaks up on me even after these years. It’s the last track on the album, but it isn’t listed. Moreover, it’s first chord follows about two minutes of silence after the last bars of the album’s titular track, which is the one that is listed as the album’s last. To be honest, I owned the CD for a long time before I knew Girl In the Corner was even on the damn thing, because after about 30 seconds I’d think something was wrong and advance my CD turntable. (“Advance my CD turntable” is the kind of phrase that makes me seem really old, but not nearly as old as “flipping the record,” which I am more than old enough too have done countless times.) And because in these days of iTunes I don’t listen to albums all the way through nearly as much as I used to, every time I hear Girl In the Corner it’s something pleasantly unexpected.
Oh, and there’s this: I also cry.
I’ve thought a lot over the years about why the song makes my eyes water so uncontrollably, but I’ll be damned if I can work it out. It’s not a sad song; indeed, its kind of happy. And while I find its melody is beautiful, I do not find it especially so. It’s lyrics are a wee bit clever, emphasis on “wee bit.” In fact, I’m going to quote the exact moment in the lyrics where my eyes go all water-worky so you can see what I mean when I say I have absolutely zero idea why the song effects me the way it does:
She said that girl in the corner, she’s more than pretty
And you’re not the first to look over her way.
And if you wanted, I could introduce you,
But you never will be the same.
Then she looked at me, and she laughed at me
And she extended her hand to me…
I know, right?
And no, before you ask, I don’t associate this song with a particular person, event or time in my life that makes the tears come — they just come.
And the thing is, Girl In the Corner isn’t my only example of this phenomena. There’s the moment in Paul Simon’s Graceland where he sings, “She comes back to tell me she’s gone/ As if I didn’t know that, as if I didn’t know my own bed/ As if I never noticed the way she brushed her hair from her forehead.” It also happens when I hear Rhapsody in Blue, but not during the third “movement” when the lush and achingly beautiful string section appears, but instead near the end during the fourth “movement,” when the city-street-esque cacophony suddenly gives way to the bouncy, train-like reprise from the second movement. (If you aren’t that familiar with Rhapsody in Blue, trust me — were you familiar, you’d be asking yourself right now, “why the fish does he tear up there?”)
And even though for me music is the most effective trigger, there are other works in other mediums of art that elicit the same kind of weird, unexplained intense emotional response: W.B. Yeat’s When You Are Old, Romare Bearden’s The Music Lesson, most of Terry GIlliam’s The Fisher King. Others, too.
And therein lies today’s non-Russelled Stupid Tuesday question: What pieces of music — or other works of art — inspire uncontrollable and hard-to-explain emotional reactions from you? Not because you broke up with The One That Got Away to that song, but because it touches something so deep and ineffable within you that you’re not entirely sure what it is that’s even being touched? Or does music and art not effect you that way — do you need for it to have a concrete thing in your past to attach to?
Or, to put this week’s Stupid Tuesday Question another way, exactly how crazy am I, anyway?
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