I’VE been wondering if we become more sentimental as we age. My conclusion is that we do, with evidence offered from my own behaviour and that of others.
First into the soggy witness box is a song by Chris Wood, seen above, taken from his latest album, So Much To Defend – best thing I’ve heard all year.
If you want a label, Chris is a folk singer, although that doesn’t truly embrace everything he does on the album. And who needs labels anyway?
Chris has been at the job for a long time, as he suggests in More Fool Me, a self-searching song that begins: “This pen will be worn out before too long. There’s a mile or two in every single song.”
First up on the album is the title track, a song that sweeps together many characters in an everyday swirl, a song so good you want to play it again and again.
After that comes This Love Won’t Let You Fail. And that’s when the emotion starts for me. It’s a song by a father to his daughter, and more broadly, it is a song about being the parent of a child who grows up and goes their own way. Connections times three for me there.
In the song, Chris is feeling emotional about his young girl being all grown up and off at university, living the life of the night – “A little drunken text now and again/ Lets us know you’re alright.”
Then he introduces a photograph from the family album of a tired little girl up on the Downs, flying a kite with her dad – “She’s all grown up now but he’s still there/Trying to let go with all his might/Catch the wind now darlin’ and run like hell/Over hill and over dale/You’ll be a speck on the horizon before too long/This love won’t let you fail.”
Gets me every time; even got me just now typing out that snatch of lyrics. I love the way Wood joins together flying a kite with letting go of a grown-up child. I don’t think that song would have moved me so much when I was young, and maybe it’s about being a dad; or maybe you are more susceptible to emotion when you are older. I know that on the quiet I am.
It’s a lovely bit of music too, with swirls of Hammond organ from Gary Walsh.
The film to have moved me most is perhaps an unlikely contender. It’s a while now since I watched Mr Holland’s Opus, in which Richard Dreyfuss plays a high-school music teacher, whose emotional farewell ties in with a performance of the piece of music he has been writing for years.
That film certainly brought on the tears. Partly, I guess, because it touched something inside me; touched that nub of hope and frustration and lack of achievement – as it should touch anyone who feels like that; just about everyone, then.
The happy parallel to all this is being reduced to tears by laughter. That can happen for surprising reasons, sometimes just a shared joke. I was the butt of such hilarity on our holiday, when my wife and daughter became giddy with giggles at my expense, and I honestly cannot now remember why.
The other night, we were watching Mitchell and Webb’s delicious squirm of a sit-com, Back, on Channel 4. The David Mitchell character, a man who wears disappointment like an old duvet with half the feathers gone, said apropos of something or other – “Shit the bed!” The way he spoke, the way he looked, the context – oh, I don’t know what it was for certain, but it reduced me to tears for quite a few minutes.
Incidentally, Mitchell’s other comedy, Upstart Crow, in which he plays a much put-upon Will Shakespeare, is a real delight – and a bounce back to form for its writer, Ben Elton.
To return to Chris Wood, on his website you will find this warm tribute from Chris Difford, of the band Squeeze: “If I had a towel I’d throw it in.”
High praise from another spinner of musical short stories cut from everyday cloth.