Just a few songs, otherwise I'll be here all day
“There Is A Light That Never Goes Out” by the Smiths
I have actually been moved to tears by “Autobahn” and “Trans-Europe Express” and other songs by Kraftwerk – not because they are particularly sad but just the sheer splendor and majesty of the music. On my last book tour of Germany, I got to play “Autobahn” on an actual autobahn, while watching all those electricity-generating windwills go past, and I did get teary eyed.
Movies – too many to list really. But one is Nicholas Roeg’s Walkabout, which is partly because the film is poignant and beautiful but also because of John Barry’s soundtrack. The last time I saw the film was at a special screening of the reissued and restored version at a theater in New York. Afterwards I had to hurry out of the theater and find a quiet place to pull myself together. The combination of the movie and the music destroyed me.
Another film that has a devastating effect on me is The Dream Life of Angels. The second time I saw it was when I had come back from a club and was slightly drunk and vulnerable, a bit maudlin, and it happened to be on TV. I had forgotten how it ends and so when the terribly sad ending came, and it comes really quick, I was taken by surprise and really shattered. I actually felt like bashing my brains out against the wall.
In some ways it is pleasing to know that art can have that kind of effect on you. One of the definitions of art is that it is a bad experience - -painful or disturbing -- that you voluntarily put yourself through. A book or movie where what happens - how the story ends - actually hurts you.