Tuesday, September 6, 2011

I Got Chills. They're Multiplying.

So, I told you last week that our family doesn’t really do sports... well, now I’m going to tell you that for the second time in a week, we attended a sporting event. It was a strange week for us.

We went to the UNC v. JMU football game at Kenan Stadium, and boy was it hot. That’s not really what I’m going to talk about, though. I’m just going to point out one little tiny thing that happened: Mixed in with all the other crowd noise and band music, they played the opening riff of “Hark the Sound of Tar Heel Voices” as a searing guitar riff a la Jimi Hendrix’s version of the Star Spangled Banner” – kind of like this. And the odd thing was, it gave me chills... made the hair stand up on my arms.
Bono on stage at Kenan
Stadium, April 23, 1983.
A thing of beauty.

Now, I have to say, I am not one of those people who have a strong emotional bond with their alma mater... so why did it evoke a physical response in me? This happens to me at the weirdest times. Sometimes it's the chills thing, sometimes it’s tears. But it’s not exactly like crying at a sad movie — it’s more momentary and random. It’s like some odd combination of emotional plus physical. Here are some other times I’ve had a crazy kind of body reaction to stuff:

A lot of them have to do with music... Since I mentioned it, Hendrix’s Star Spangled Banner sometimes gives me a shiver. Also, when I went to see U2 play in 1983 before they were famous — also at Kenan Stadium — when I saw the band members walking from the field house to the stage, in a line 4 across... chills... and tears.

Freddie Mercury
at Live Aid.
I toured the Rock Circus in London, which is part of Madame Tussaud’s wax museum, and when I saw the reproduction of Freddie Mercury at Live Aid and heard the “We are the Champions” music that went with it... well, he had recently died, so I started crying ... just a bit. I mean, I admit he had a great set of pipes, but I am not a huge fan... so why did this make me weep?

This one is a little embarrassing: the clip of Britain’s Got Talent where Susan Boyle made her debut... when she starts to sing... yep... chills. But I’m thinking this happened to other people too, otherwise they wouldn’t have been circulating the clip.

Tom and I recently saw the play Hair at the DPAC, and at the beginning when the gorgeous lady came out with her beautiful afro of hair, and started singing, “When the moon is in the seventh house...” You got it. Major shivers.

Apparently, some scientists have even tried to figure out why music gives people the chills... Here’s an excerpt from an article called “Why Music Gives Us the Chills” by Corey Binns on LiveScience.com:

In recent studies, scientists found that people already familiar with the music are more likely to catch a chill at key moments:

– When a symphony turns from loud to quiet
– Upon entry of a solo voice or instrument
– When two singers have contrasting voices

“Our results suggest that chills depend very much on our ability to interpret the music,” said Oliver Grewe, a biologist and musicologist at the institute. “Music is a recreative activity. Even if it is relaxing to listen to, the listener has to recreate its meaning, the feelings it expresses. It is the listener who gives life to the emotions in music.”

Pete Townshend getting music,
heat, glory and excitement
from his listeners. Bill swears
he looks like Gilligan.

I can dig that. So I’m giving MYSELF the chills. And this kind of goes with the theory that Pete Townshend has of how the music isn't complete without the listener. I think this song was kind of a tribute to his listeners: “Listening to you I get the music. / Gazing at you I get the heat. / Following you I climb the mountain. / I get excitement at your feet! / Right behind you I see the millions. / On you I see the glory. / From you I get opinions. / From you I get the story.”

But it’s not ONLY music that gives me the weird shivers. Like above, when I began to cry before U2 had even started to play... And then there was this one time a friend and I were visiting a Baptist Church in Roanoke, VA, and a very young boy went forward to be baptized. He was so little and cute and sincere, it made us both cry.

Bill and his mommy,
so excited about
Thomas they had to
look away.
And here’s the funniest, most embarrassing one of all: When Bill was very small, we took him to the NC Transportation museum to ride “Thomas the Tank Engine,” which is really just a diesel engine with a Thomas exterior. When the Thomas finally arrived, it chugged around the bend and came into view, and when I saw that silly face on the train I gasped and the hair stood up on my arms. What was up with that?! Maybe I was just sharing Bill’s excitement?

Are the chills the flipside of the heebie jeebies? Stuff that spooks you? Like when I was in the pioneer museum in Salt Lake City looking at the strange shadow boxes of... what looked like ... collars and cuffs made of ... lace? Then I realized it was human hair. And then they turned off the lights because it was closing time. brrrrr... talk about the creeps! 

There's a fairy tale about a man who was unable to get “the creeps.” He traveled the world trying to find out how, but never did, no matter what gruesome thing happened. Then when he came home, his wife poured a bucket of cold water with minnows over him while he was sleeping... and THAT gave him the creeps! Apparently one does not have to travel far to get the creeps!

I’m not really going anywhere with this... it’s just kind of fascinating to me – the random things that hit you and how they hit you... emotionally, physically... What gives you the chills? The heebie-jeebies?

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