What Music Moves You?

It doesn’t matter how many times I hear Bill Withers sing “Ain’t No Sunshine,” I can always hear it again (and again). Same for “When a Man Loves a Woman” sung by Percy Sledge and especially Marvin Gaye’s “I Heard it Through the Grapevine.” Yes, there’s a common theme here—love, or more precisely, the yearning for love when it’s not there—but it’s the touching emotion in these songs that always grabs me. It’s also why I always pause to hear or seek out George Harrison’s “Here Comes the Sun” when I need a little warming uplift—or, honestly, almost any Beatles song.

These days I’ve been listening to more music created on distant shores, especially the rich beauty of Ali Farka Touré, one of the world’s greatest guitarists from Mali in western Africa. You can listen to three gorgeous notes in the opening of “Goya Kur” from his album “The Source” and know it can only be him. This is music that makes me smile. And most days, when I need time for reflection and to bring down my blood pressure, I’m playing “Weightless” by Marconi Union, electronic ambient music created by two guys from Manchester UK in collaboration with sound therapists. Neuroscientists have found that it produces a greater state of relaxation than any other song tested, resulting in a 65 percent reduction in listeners’ overall anxiety. For anyone tapped into our nation’s struggles these days, this is a powerful antidote. (And so, by the way, is Marvin Gaye’s “What’s Going On.”)

Now it’s your turn. What music moves you? I’m excited to hear what grabs your attention and for everyone reading this to discover music we’ve never heard—or songs we haven’t paused to savor.

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Photo: Marvin Gaye in Los Angeles, 1973. Taken by Jim Britt/Michael Ochs Archive/Getty Images.