Sigur Ros Makes Me Cry

By

After seeing some of these responses, I’ve decided to edit my approach and see what you think of the video objectively.

Like I said, the band is Sigur Ros, and the song is called “Glosoli.”

Enjoy. Or not.

As a singer-songwriter and recording artist, Andrew has released more than ten records over the past fifteen years. His music has earned him a reputation for writing songs that connect with his listeners in ways equally powerful, poetic, and intimate. He has also followed his gifts into the realm of publishing. His books include the four volumes of the award-winning Wingfeather Saga.


46 Comments

  1. bryan a

    yeah, that’s some powerful stuff. very cool.

    and this might get me skewered, but a few of the youths from church put together their own version of this video if the song was being sung in english. it makes me laugh every time i see it, but maybe that’s just because i know these guys…

  2. Mark Nicholas

    I should have known better than to watch this at work. I won’t go into detail of the numerous hymn lyrics and scripture than flashed to mind during subsequent scenes, but I will say that I had to try an cover my tears in the manliest of ways. Thanks for the tip Andrew and also for including me this past weekend.

  3. Zach M

    I just recently found these guys on youtube and itunes, and their music is so powerful! I think for me it is the unbridled joy that the kids seem to display, all walking and running together for one purpose. This will preach!

  4. josh

    I hate to be the contrarian, but it didn’t do much for me. I thought the song was ok, but nothing outstanding, and it definitely didn’t make me cry, even when paired with the imagery in the video. Of course, that’s what I love about the Rabbit Room–as proven in the song lyric thread Jason started, there’s something for everyone. The world would be a dull place if the same poets moved every soul. Not sure what I’m missing here, but I’ve met people who would say the same thing about art that moves me deeply, like Tolkien’s work. Oh well. He who has ears to hear, let him hear. Or something like that.

  5. A different Josh

    Yea I didn’t get any kind of emontional charge out of this either. But then again, I am not prone to getting emotional over much of anything very easily. It was a great video and song though.

  6. Matt Conner

    No contrarian here. I saw Sigur Ros in Indianapolis in 2006 and the entire place was crying when the final lights went up. They were unbelievable and I had chills from beginning to end. Just pure poetry.

  7. Peter B

    This is the band that sings all their songs in their brand-new language, right?

    I’m not sure I get it. The song is good, and it works well with the imagery, which I sort of feel on some visceral level that I can’t quite articulate (or perhaps I could if I worked at it). Having just reread Lewis’ Chronicles, it’s easy to see some parallels… or maybe I’m missing what I was supposed to see.

    Does the hesitant kid fall when he steps off?

  8. Micah Pick

    Really enjoyed it. You’re right, there is a definate marriage of music and image. I would give almost anything to be able to understand the words. The music in and of itself pulls of the crescendo-climax-decrescendo so perfectly that its hard not to be emotional impacted by that alone. Any song that correctly pulls off a good climax is emotional powerful (i.e. Oh My God by Jars of Clay). Now couple that climax with this imagery, and you’ve got a stunning affect. There is something undeniably powerful about the innocence and the freedom of childhood. The fact that when you are young, anything is possible. The joy of believing like a child. So Andrew, I think it affects you so much because it helps keep your little boy heart alive.

  9. Pete Peterson

    One of the things I love about this is that every time I watch it, it’s the moment when the kid starts beating on the drum that I lose it and go all watery-eyed, and I have no idea why. The whole charging up the hill and jumping and flying and all that is obvious enough but for some reason that one moment is where it starts and I thought that and reacted that way the first time I saw it, not even knowing what was coming next.

  10. Hank

    I guess I’m with the minority as I didn’t get the song and video. I was waiting to be touched by it as Andy built it up to be, but failed. It was a well done video and the song was just subpar for me. What is the emotion that y’all are feeling? I’d like to understand and appreciate it from y’all’s perspective. For a guy, I’m not ashamed to cry at movies – in fact I like to watch romantic comedies and feel-good movies so I was really anticipating this video. I hope I have not lost touch with things.

  11. Eric Peters

    @ericpeters

    peter b asks, “Does the hesitant kid fall when he steps off?”

    THAT, i believe, is the great question the band & video director want to leave you hanging on; does this small child get to fly like the others? does he believe he can fly? or does he fall, as it appears he does in that final fraction of a millisecond before the video cuts away. i saw this for the first time last summer, and, like a few of you who have responded with similar reactions, i didn’t get it at all at first (“oh my, this is weird”). but after seeing it again and again it has slowly dawned on me what they’re trying to communicate. singing in Icelandic, i don’t understand a single word they’re saying, but i understand (or, at least i think i do) what they’re trying to “say” through the coupling of these art mediums. and yes, it makes me cry too — when he starts beating the drum and they all charge the mountain in unison…. whew.

    me, i think the boy flies at the end.

  12. Curt McLey

    @curtmcley

    I’ve really enjoyed reading the varied responses. I have the strong sense that the original Rabbit Room played host to this kind of interesting discussion. It’s fascinating, fun, and good for the soul. Andy, I’m grateful to you for providing this venue to facilitate such discussion and for allowing me to be a part of it. You were in a unique position to set this up and we are blessed to have it available.

    As for me, I wasn’t moved to tears the first time through, like I might be by a song from Mark Heard, Andrew Peterson, David Wilcox, Pierce Pettis, Glen Phillips, and the like (thank you for that thread, Jason!). My first reaction was visceral, that is was beautiful and moving, but the imagery didn’t solidify for me until the third time through.

    First, the passionate drum beat, then the children racing up the hill, then the doves. Did you see the doves, almost imperceptible and invisible, like The Strong Hand of Love that Mark Heard wrote about, hidden in the shadows? Andy’s right. Each image holds meaning. It’s worth it to watch this several times to lasso further meaning.

    Thanks for posting that, Andrew Peterson.

  13. Ben Yancer

    I too started to get moist eyes when he started hitting the drum. And I even knew it was coming, the drumming, because I had read this post (and because it was a logical progression since he was carrying a drum), and so I was sure that any genuine reaction from me would’ve been stifled somehow. But no. Moist eyes.

    Why and how does this coupling of visual and musical art create such an emotional response in so many of us? It leaves me almost feeling manipulated. Except that I don’t mind in this case, it still rings true, and I think that’s because it’s calling to the part of me that believes in something more. Not just the child in me. The hope in me.

  14. Andrew Peterson

    @andrew

    Well, like I said in the original version of this post, the video gets me every time. Every time. I don’t have a clue what “Glosoli” means, I don’t know what inspired the video, and I don’t know what some of it is supposed to symbolize (if anything), but I find it so stirring.

    The varied response to the video is also surprising to me, and it brings up a question: What common emotional/spiritual make up exists between those of us who are moved by it? I’ve thought the same thing about Rich Mullins. I know so many people who remain unmoved by Rich’s music and writing, and there are others who like me feel a visceral, almost obsessive connection with his songs.

    I’ve long held the opinion that what makes the Lord of the Rings, or Narnia, or Harry Potter, or U2 so powerful and vastly influential is that they rub up against some spiritual bedrock from which all humans come. But what does that say about the folks who couldn’t give a hang about Frodo and Sam’s journey, or who change the channel when “Where the Streets Have No Name” comes on the radio? (This last is almost unimaginable to me, but I’m sure it happens. I’m not a raging U2 fan, but that song is incredibly evocative whether you’re eight or eighty. Seeing U2 play it live makes me want to come out of my skin.)

    “Different strokes for different folks,” you say, but how does that work when it comes to universal truths? I have thoughts on this, but I’m curious to see what you have to say.

  15. Joy C.

    Andrew (re: last post) I wonder if “Glosoli” has to do with language, tongues, a different language better able to communicate…? P.S. You’re up late.

  16. Curt McLey

    @curtmcley

    Joy C., I wondered the same thing, so I did some armchair research. In Icelandic, it’s pronounced “glow-soul-ih,” and means glowing sun.

  17. Jim A

    wow. I totally don’t get this either. I kept waiting for something profound so maybe that was what my problem was. But i didn’t think it was emotional in the least. Or now that I’m thinking about it, it could have been the context. There was none. I had no context about what the scene was about and not understanding the language of lyrics didn’t help either.

  18. Jim A

    I’m also wondering what the video would do for me if i muted it and played “Little Boy Heart Alive” while watching it. Now that might do it.

  19. Micah Pick

    I found an English translation, and I know something is always lost in translation, it was still cool to read the lyrics to this song.

    Glowing Sun (Bright Sun)

    Now that you’re awake
    Everything seems different
    I look around
    But there’s nothing at all

    Put on my shoes, I then find that
    She is still in her pyjamas
    Then found in a dream
    I’m hung by (an) anticlimax

    She is with the sun
    And it’s out here

    But where are you…

    Go on a journey
    And roam the streets
    Can’t see the way out
    And so use the stars
    She sits for eternity
    And then climbs out

    She’s the glowing sun
    So come out

    I awake from a nightmare
    My heart is beating
    Out of control…

    I’ve become so used to this craziness
    That it’s now compulsory

    And here you are…

    I’m feeling…

    And here you are,
    Glowing sun…

    And here you are,
    Glowing sun…

    And here you are,
    Glowing sun…

  20. Peter B

    Eric,

    After another viewing, I’ve decided that he makes it. He looks way too happy to be plunging to his death. Then again, maybe that’s better than never having tried (a la the witch’s final deception in The Silver Chair, where Puddleglum says he prefers his “pretend” world and Aslan to her “real” underground world of despair).

    The kissing part seemed disconnected.

    My favorite bit (apart from the wonderful diversity of the “follow me” calling scenes) is when they start to run, casting aside every encumbrance in their single-minded pursuit of the goal.

    Still no tears, though. Then again, most really good AP songs take me a while to appreciate to their fullest…

  21. Peter B

    Andrew,

    I could be way off base here, but I would think that even universal truths are meaningless without a context. When Solomon says “train up a child in the way he should go”, the literal meaning is closer to “according to his way”. Maybe it’s the same reason Paul was sent to the Gentiles and Peter (largely) to the Jews… the same reason Wycliffe Bible Translators exist to provide the Word in one’s “heart language” even if most of those people can read it in the official or trade dialect of their country.

    Hopefully some of that made sense. For what it’s worth, I do begin to see.

    You know, I was think

  22. Nate

    I think this is a neat video. But thats it. And thats Ok, but I’m curious about this sermon series that could be preached from it. Like, what is just one sermon? A general outline, general. I mean, what is going on in this video. Its really cool and a cool sounding song, but no cooler than the Japanese version of the Flaming Lips Yoshimi and the Pink Robots (or whatever). Can some of you understand the words or something? I totally miss it, and I’m not willing (yet) to say its over my head.

  23. Laura

    Wow, for me the clearest part of the art was that the last little one wanted to be different and found blissful glee grabbing his knees and plunging into the raging waters… I am also certain he is a good swimmer.

    Prior to that, I was viewing this as a music therapist and social worker who works with youth who are often less parented than most of us think is appropriate. So in my mind I was wondering why they were alone, where they were going to, coming from, orphans, and really thought tragedy was coming when they charged the hill and it turned into a cliff. (And what was up with the very brief car scene?) I admit I’m jaded.

    In response to Andrew’s question of common/emotional spiritual make-up.
    Hmmmmm, many prayerful moments, refocusing before returning home after work, road trips, etc. have been serenaded with some AP or Rich Mullins, this did not grab me that way at all. Perhaps because I presume God centered intentions in the music of AP or Rich and didn’t know the intentions of this group. (Remember, I’m a bit jaded.)

  24. easton crow

    I have to admit that I was pretty moved by the video and the music. All I could think of the whole time was Christ and the disciples. I thought the kids with the gas and the car looked a bit like James and John and the kid with the bandana jsut said Peter to me. Then the final sequence seemed to rush right out of The Last Battle. So, when Peter B asks about contect, I guess I must have had my contect for it in my head already.
    The English lyrics are wierd, I have to say.
    I guess my overriding felling from the piece was its pure joy. That and being a clothes and costume horse, I was really in to the outfits. I want a coat like the drummer’s.

  25. Jonathan

    Andrew, in an attempt to add to the conversation on universal truth and why some seem to be affected by different forms of art and others not, one thought I have is along the lines of experience and levels of understanding.
    A songwriter hears a great lyric and sometimes it just kills them because they write lyrics on a regular basis and understand on a deeper level how difficult or artistic or hard or whatever it was to come up with them. For me, since I dedicated 6 years of my life in college and grad school to studying saxophone and jazz I may be moved by a John Coltrane solo in a much deeper way than someone who never listens to jazz and finds it to be a bunch of noise. Those who read a lot may be moved by the imagination and story telling of those like Lewis and Tolkien where someone who hardly ever reads could give a rip ( I would hope not though). I know for me personally I don’t know much about visual art, so I find that I’m rarely moved by a painting or sculpture where I’m sure others are deeply affected. I can’t say I know how to exactly get at these ideas when it comes to things we think are “universal” so maybe there are some boundaries within what we call “universal”.

  26. easton crow

    OK, so I just watched Bryan A’s version. I don’t know these guys, but I sure would like to. It was delightfully dorky. Thanks.

  27. Alex Green

    To comment on how different people are moved by different things, I think of C.S. Lewis’ essay “Trasposition”. I couldn’t to it justice for those who haven’t read it, but he address this world in comparison to the next. I think that each of us see pieces of Heaven in little things, not all of us in the same things. We see these little glimpses and whispers of Heaven that are perfect bits of promise of what God has for us.

  28. Tony Heringer

    Alex what a beautiful thought. Thanks. Here’s a thought from Tolkien and what I hope is an amplification of your post:

    “How shall a man judge what to do in such times?”
    “As he ever has judged,” said Aragorn, “Good and ill have not changed since yesteryear; nor are they one thing among elves and dwarves and another among men. It is a man’s part to discern them, as much in the Golden Wood as in his own house.” – from a conversation between Aragorn and Eomer in J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord Of The Rings (The Two Towers)

    The impact of art is universal. Perhaps because we are universally bound by two basic components: dignity and depravity.

    Truly we are bearers of God’s image and yet, we also all carry around the stench of sin. When the former triumphs over the latter in our hearts — no matter our position in Christ as grace is both particular and common — we get “glimpses and whispers of Heaven” as the glory of God comes streaming in.

    Andrew thanks for starting this thread. Though I’m in the “I don’t get it” group, the conversation this music video generated is just as moving for our group laddie. 🙂

  29. josh

    Andrew said that “the varied response to the video was also surprising” to him and I guess I would have had the opposite expectation. It is, after all, “only” a piece of art, and personally, I wouldn’t have expected everyone to have the same reaction to it, just like with any song or book I recommend to a friend. I’m one of the ones who didn’t “get it,” but I’m not so sure that this carries some deep significance about me, or that it shows I’m somehow not in touch with some universal truth. In fact, I’m a little uncomfortable equating “the ability to be moved to tears by a music video” with “the ability to recognize universal truth.” (Maybe that’s cause I’m more of a goosebump/chills/lump in the throat guy, though, I don’t know.) In my opinion, one’s perception can’t but help be filtered through their experiences, and ultimately, for someone like me as a Christian, through faith in Christ. I’ve often thought about the same question you posed, as to why certain songs or books move me so deeply, and for me, it’s more that the art acts as reminders that point to a universal truth I already know than that the art is some universal truth in itself. For instance, on Bob Dylan’s last album, Modern Times, there’s a song I love called Nettie Moore. One of the lines says, “The judge is coming in, everybody rise/lift up your eyes./You can do what you please, you don’t need my advice/Before you call me any dirty names, you better think twice.” Now, I’m usually not one of those people who sees the gospel in everything (i.e., the Theolo-vision thread), but the first thing I thought of when I heard this was of standing before God at Christ’s Second Coming and looking up to the heavens, and then I flashed back to Zechariah 3, where Satan is accusing Joshua, and the Lord rebukes Satan (“before you call me any dirty names, you better think twice.”) Is this what Dylan intended? I doubt it. I can’t say for sure, though. One thing I know, though, is that I really like that picture in Zechariah, and I’m sure that’s what called it to mind, not that Dylan was necessarily drawing the connection for me. Different people may see a different “signpost” if that’s the word, that points them to an experience or emotion that they already know. I also am not sure what everyone’s definition of “universal truth” is as far as art in general, or the video in particular. Me, I’m hesitant to call anything “universal truth” other than sin and redemption, at least theologically speaking, but from a more general point of view as far as joy, sadness, etc., different art moves different people differently because, well, they are different people who’ve lived different lives. Universally, everyone has emotions, but it doesn’t mean everyone experiences the same emotions at the same things. One person may see this video and be reminded of their Christianity, having faith like a child, “mounting up with wings like eagles,” and the like, and someone else may watch it and see nothing more than a feel-good message about “following your dreams” like you’d hear in some sappy top-40 country song or Disney movie. Me, I’m somewhere in the middle, and I think that’s ok. God calls me to believe, not to feel, after all–they’re sometimes co-existent, but often not. I think I’m rambling now, and I don’t know if this made any sense, except for my two cents, but I’m curious to see what other people think. Good question, though, about the different responses to art.

  30. josh

    Looks like I should have read Andrew’s new post before posting. He said what I was trying to say, only way more eloquently, not to mention coherently. : )

  31. Sean Kirkland

    Just wanted to add something….

    from what I’ve read about the band, their lyrics aren’t Icelandic or English or anything else, so I don’t know if there are any translations of lyrics to be found that match.

    The singer has described the language he sings in, as “Hopelandic.” It’s a made-up language. Probably, since they’re from Iceland, it has some basis in Icelandic languages, but other than that, I don’t know.

    This is similar to the band, The Cocteau Twins, whose singer, Elizabeth Frasier, had her own language, as well. I read that she made it up as therapy for some abuse as a child.

  32. Drew Heyward

    check out the music video for Hoppipola. It is beautifully done.

    this band is awesome by the way. i am so happy you listen to them.

  33. Jim A

    I think Peter B really scratched the surface of an important concept around the universal truth question. He points to a phrase in proverbs and makes a point about the universal truth not making sense outside of context.

    I think another danger that happens all the time is when a context is created around something that is assumed to be a universal truth and because of how good the “art” is surrounding it, it’s assumed to be a universal truth and somehow, some way, rings true with many who are really just captured by the art. Sadly, they are taken down a path that serves only the creator of that presumed “truth”. For example, imagine picking a small obscure verse out of the old testament and devoting a book, a seminar, countless conferences, a product line (is that art?), and speeches (art?) that is good enough to convice countless genuine Christians that God’s desire is to have ME gain stuff for ME and I can do it by praying for it specifically for a month! Or another such philosophy in which if you pray and believe and then sweet talk the folks at the check-in counter you will get that first class ticket that God wants you to have.
    There’s a universal truth baked in there somewhere and it’s pitched with some good art (or at least very moving art) and it genuinely moves people so it must be true right?

  34. Chris Slaten

    Some thoughts on the language barrier:

    Just wanted to make an addendum to what Sean said about Hopelandic. In this video and on this album I am pretty sure they are singing in their native tongue. On their first couple of records, Agaetis Byrjun (sp?) and Von, Jonsi sang in Icelandic, aside from a couple of songs on Von. On ( ) he committed to singing in his gibberish language Hopelandic language for the entire record. The insert in the CD case actually had blank lines for lyrics so that the listeners could write their own interpretations of the songs. However, I am pretty sure that for this album they have returned to singing Icelandic aside from a couple of the songs at the end.

    I can relate to what someone else said earlier about seeing them live and crying. I saw them at Variety Playhouse in Atlanta in 2002 right when ( ) was about to come out. During one of the songs at the end I felt like a complete loser because I was bobbing my head and bawling. Then I looked around the room and everyone was bobbing and bawling, including my big brother who is much cooler and more stoic than myself. My next emotion was disgust; because I was pretty sure that maybe .001% of the people in the room, though probably no one, actually knew what they were singing about (This was during Olsen, Olsen which is in Icelandic). I felt as if we had all been bewitched by a beautiful babbler. Then Morgan Freeman popped into my head and started speaking for Steven King, “I have no idea to this day what those two Italian ladies were singing about. Truth is, I don’t want to know. Some things are better left unsaid. I’d like to think they were singing about something so beautiful, it can’t be expressed in words, and it makes your heart ache because of it. I tell you, those voices soared higher and farther than anybody in a grey place dares to dream. It was as if some beautiful bird had flapped into our drab little cage and made these walls dissolve away, and for the briefest of moments, every last man in Shawshank felt free.”

  35. Aaron Roughton

    This is my first post in the Rabbit Room. I’ve been a spectator for a while, and I realize I’m behind the times even in this thread. But something got a hold of me as I read through the responses. Because I view those contributors in the Rabbit Room to be far deeper thinkers than I am, I watched the video the first time assuming that I would not understand it, but straining to make sure I didn’t miss a single symbol, note, smile…I wanted so badly to be included, and of course moved. It reminded me of when my oldest daughter laughs at the wrong times when the adults are talking. I longed for tears, or emotions, but had nothing but fear. I remember when a friend of mine was not sure he wanted to see the Passion of the Christ. His buddy chided him, “What…are you afraid you’ll cry?” He said, “No, I’m afraid I won’t.”

    Then I saw the post about whether or not the young boy fell or flew. I immediately started crying. I wondered about it when I saw it, but it didn’t register as a need for concern until someone asked the question as part of this community. I became terrified that he might miss the joy that the others were experiencing because of his own fear. Isn’t it ironic.

    The second time I watched it, I let myself off the hook and let it soak in.

    As an engineer by day, musician by night, I think the two sides of my brains get irritated with each other sometimes. On one hand I need a logical reason to be moved by art. When I watch the video for the Ben Folds song Still Fighting It, I cry and cry…because I have a son and I want his life to be magnificent. But when I watched Forrest Gump and choked back sobs as he flashed back to the scenery he had experienced when “running,” I didn’t know what moved me. I was sad for his loss of Jenny, but it wasn’t that. It was an unexpected glimpse of God, or heaven, and I wasn’t looking for it. And I definitely wasn’t scared I would miss it.

  36. Chris Slaten

    Not sure if anyone else is still reading this conversation, but:

    This is another powerful video that I used to watch repeatedly to try to understand why it affected me so much. Like the Glosi video it’s also a good dose of magical realism and good for a cry or two; particularly if you know personally or are familiar with any marginalized or mentally ill people, those whom we drive by while trying to steady our gazes straight ahead or walk briskly past on the side walk while looking conveniently at something interesting in the opposite direction. However, it seems that there is a lot more than what is on the surface in this video. In case the link below doesn’t work you can look it up on Youtube by searching for “Rabbit in Your Headlights” by U.N.K.L.E.

    http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-5605589770378150779&q=unkle+video+site%3Avideo.google.com&total=52&start=0&num=10&so=0&type=search&plindex=0

  37. The Rabbit Room

    […] amazing mood music I’ve ever heard in a film. Do you remember the Proprietor’s post, Sigur Ros Makes Me Cry? Many were deeply stirred by this video, but couldn’t explain why. That’s how it is […]

  38. The Rabbit Room

    […] that my steps were not my own. Until, the path took me over the edge of the cliff again and unlike those kids in the Sigur Ros video, I didn’t fly. Everything changed, without any reason or explanation, I […]

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