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Holidays in the Sun

This morning I walked to work, as I will be doing all week because my damn bike got stolen. It’s hot, so I bring an umbrella to fend off the rays, and a nice big 32 oz. bottle of iced tea, brewed in our refrigerator. I load up my phone with music I haven’t heard recently and listen as I walk. I like to not scrutinize the playlist too closely, so each piece takes me by surprise.

I was just making my way up the Jeff Davis overpass when “Holidays in the Sun” came on. I was immediately transported back to a time 24 years ago or so, in Stockholm I think, when I heard the same song as I descended an escalator in a shopping mall.

I wasn’t listening to headphones then — it was playing over a sound system. Then I was in the frozen north, now I was sweating in the subtropics. Then I was going down, now I was going up. Then I was a teenager, now I’m middle aged.

And yet the reaction I felt was just the same. As those initial chords crashed down, I felt a tingling sensation run up my spine and sweep over my whole body. Waves of chills. Nothing subtle about it.

Every time I hear that song it happens. I would have thought by now it would be worn out — but it’s not.

What is it about that song that gives it such visceral power? Does everyone hear it the same way, or is that just me? I suppose other songs do it for other people. That would make a great compilation: Music to Give You the Chills.

Published inMusic & Audio


  1. So sorry your bike got stolen. That really sucks; I guess we can only hope that the person who got it will use it even more than you did.

  2. Peris Peris

    That, and the closer–EMIiiiy!–and everything in between. That whole album was one for the ages.

    For chills, I can’t top Gimme Shelter, even if I hadn’t seen the movie.

  3. Eric Paul Eric Paul

    Again, my condolences for your nicked vehicle. When you told me about the theft I got chills in the heat.

    I had an odd experience earlier this evening. I’m selling off stuff to finance a banjo this summer. One of the things I’m selling off is my old 4 – track cassette recorder. The thing is huge. I haven’t used it in years, and when I took it out of the box to examine it a jolt went through me, almost as if it had a life force of its own. Of course, memories of my early foray with stereo recording (1996) flew around in my head. I put it back in the box very carefully.

    As for songs that give me chills – for me, it’s Meredith Monk’s “Travelling”, from her recording Dolmen Music. Gets me every time!

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