The Song That Touched My Soul
“You must make sure this song is played at my funeral”. The first time my father said this, I was nine years old. We were in the car. The song in question had come on the radio, an unfamiliar, unremarkable sound to nine-year old ears. But, because I love him, I nodded, and memorized the title like he asked. He’s made that request several times over the years, whenever that song is played, and he quizzes me on the title with playful urgency. I’ve always humored him of course, and planned to honor his wish, but I never understood why he was so particular.
If one thinks too hard about it, music becomes an odd concept. How is it that a certain collection of sounds, produced electronically, or by means of instrument or voice can have such an effect on humans? How can a beat or lyric timed just so bring one person to tears, while others sit by, indifferent? Music changes us, engages our emotions, memories, and senses. Many of us become so attached to certain songs that the music becomes a key component of our identity. It is an odd, odd thing, but I am grateful for it.
Some say that when you fall in love, in that singular, identifiable moment, you “just know it”. Usually this is used in reference to people, but I believe it also applies to songs. At different times in my life, there have been mild love affairs with songs, and even after years have passed, they evoke a smile, a feeling of home, of warmth. However, I first heard the song that touched my soul two years ago, and I knew from the moment of the first note. I had stopped what I was doing, as if compelled by an invisible force, sat down, and closed my songs. It was the sort of song that demanded to be listened to properly.
The song’s title is “Saturn”, and it’s by Sleeping At Last.
Ever since I had the fateful encounter with “Saturn” two years ago, it has become sacred to me, in the strage, personal way characterized by private ritual. I listen to it, every night if possible, right before sleep. The lights must be off, and I must center myself in the swelling notes of the cello that soon give way to ethereal piano, and finally, the vocals, which deliver the poetic lyrics in a way that makes my soul dance every time. The song makes me feel small in comparison to the vast universe, but not in a pessimistic way. In a way that makes me feel embraced and cradled by the universe. The words are about death, yet they carry hope. “How strange and beautiful it is to even exist” is a lyric that lives in my heart, and something I remind myself with constantly.
All of us carry around songs that we are in love with, that are almost portraits of us as individuals, or the different people we are throughout one lifetime. I think it is a sign of intimate closeness when someone shows you one of the songs that has touched their soul. It is a special, almost religious act of soul-bearing and communion.
Recently, in a different car, my father put on “Saturn’. He and my mom sat, in rare reverencial silence. When I asked them why, my father said I had mentioned it once as my favorite song. That feeling of profound understanding is one I hope every single human being gets to experience at least once. Sometimes when we cannot find a means of communication in ourselves, we can find it in that odd and mysterious force known as music. It is comforting to know that there is so much out there for us.
As for me, I think I would like “Saturn” played at my funeral.
Written By Gracie Nordgren