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.

  1. 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.

  2. 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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