I usually wake up before my wife Theresa and son Cyprian. I read the news and turn on some music, and improvise some dance and exercise moves to get my heart pumping. The music I like most contains memorable melody supported the kind of harmonic context that moves my emotions and ‘lifts me up’ — this is music that fills me with aspiration. An example is below (for more you can take a look at my ‘Perfect Songs’ on my Youtube channel.),
‘Open Arms” beautifully sung by Steve Perry of Journey (pictured above). I followed this with Jan Werner singing ‘Air’ at a Noble Prize Ceremony and Celine Dion singing ‘The Prayer’ with Josh Groban. I had cued up Groban’s signature song, ‘To Where You Are,” when Theresa and our golden doodle Gidget came into the living room. What followed was a scene not uncommon in the Hudson household.
Before continuing, one reason I was immediately attracted to Theresa was her taste in music, movies, and the arts in general. On our second date I tested her, without calling it that, by playing some Delius and Rachmaninov to see how she would respond to their music. Tears came to her eyes when she heard the Delius choral work, ‘To Be Sung on a Summer Night on the Water,’ and her smiling face flushed with excitement to the adagio of Rachmaninov’s 2nd Symphony. She was also an Alabama beauty queen, so I married her.
But as much as she likes the music I love most, Theresa does not want to hear it first thing in the morning — it’s too emotional, she complains, and sometimes adds that my daughter Hannah felt the same way when I came into her room singing, ‘O What a Beautiful Morning.’ Chip, my son, stays in neutral on this topic.
I say, ‘What’s so wrong with emotional music first thing in the morning — it helps get me going!’ In other words, how much emotion is too much? There is, of course, no right or wrong answer to this question. It’s a matter of temperament. Remember the medieval notion of the four humours? Phlegmatic, Melancholic, Sanguine, and Choleric.
I am melancholic. The Danish composer Karl Nielsen wrote his 2nd Symphony and called it ‘The Four Temperments,’ dedicating each movement to one of the humours. Here is the melancholic 3rd movement which expresses my temperament as well as any music I know.
Yes, it is quite moving though perhaps not in a way you resonate with. Nielsen’s darkly colored, brooding strings and mournful horns, to my ear, rise to a moment of human-overcoming, the victory of courage and hope over suffering. It leaves me aspiring to be that kind of person. You may find these words of explanation very strange, and I would not blame you.
But music like Nielsen’s and the best of popular music ballads disperse my loneliness. How, you ask? A song like “By the Time I Get to Phoenix’ or ‘Truly’ or ‘All the Things You Are’ say to me, ‘You are not alone. There are others who have felt as you have felt. Others have known the highs of lows of your life, in their own.’
Theresa would agree with all I have said above. The common sense of the matter is this: Please, just not first thing in the morning!
Addendum: Theresa after reading this column said, ‘It’s like having ice cream before coffee in the morning.”