Songwriters love to pen lyrics about the mind, the heart, the soul — but what about the body? Plenty of songs describe physical experiences. The bigger musical challenge is nailing the connection between body and soul.
Sure, the leadoff track of our Experience playlist, Olivia Newton-John’s 1981 megahit “Physical,” is about anticipating sensation and pleasure, but the song finds its 2018 echo in MGMT’s “She Works Out Too Much,” whose wordplay evokes relationship trajectories as well as exercise. Our mix ranges from the jazz standard “Body and Soul,” which Billie Holiday made into one of her signature epics of loneliness, to Death Cab For Cutie’s “Soul Meets Body,” a subtle song of yearning that imagines sun and dirt on the singer’s skin. The feminist grunge of Hole’s “Jennifer’s Body” represents ’90s alt-rock’s subversive anger, while the Beastie Boys’ “Body Movin’” captures its capacity for joy. And from the 2010s, “Creature Comforts,” Arcade Fire’s danceable dysmorphia, gets an answer from Lizzo’s strut-your-stuff anthem, “Good As Hell.”
Listen to our playlist as you read the stories in this month’s issue.