Your mind is like the surface of a lake. Lots of thinking. Lots of ripples. But once in a rare while, music is so - perfect - it obliterates the ego and the ripples are gone. The lake is gone. My life-long friend and I used to call this "flatline" music. Call it what you will... And share your best.
  1. The spine crunching Comfortably Numb verse plunges into the sublime chorus.
    "There is no pain, you are receding..." String arpeggio. For a teenager in pain, "receding" seemed like a very good alternative to pacing and groaning.
  2. Only Living Boy in New York
    Simon and Garfunkel melt my brain with echoey tympani, organ, and the celestial choir of a thousand Garfunkel falsettos: "Heeeeeer IIIII aaaaam."
  3. Axis: Bold as Love
    When an already beautiful song with striking visual lyrics dissolves into a blistering guitar solo and finally, three sets of staccato string strikes, we figure: it's over. No. Mitch Mitchell's drums cascade from speaker left to middle to right and the whole band explodes into interstellar-orchestra.
  4. Hurdy-Gurdy Man
    Donovan's voice, eerie and wavering is shoved aside by John Bonham's steamroller drum fill. The rest of the song teeters impossibly (and amazingly) between psychedelic fluff and urging, surging hard-rock.
  5. Soul to Squeeze: Red Hot Chili Peppers
    The mellow-slide guitar solo explodes into full-band fanfare. The music video visually nails this, as the clown-freak protagonist of the circus is bravely shot from a cannon. That's what the song feels like, in fact, in this moment. Then...a broken down and very melodic final verse, our ears very much alive.
  6. Requiem: Jethro Tull
    The whole song is a lovely, sad, captivating ballad, and Ian Anderson's voice coaxes you to forget anything but the song, the feeling of something very sad but very beautiful.
  7. Silent in the Morning: Phish
    I know, you hate Phish. I hate a lot of it. But not very many songs have brought me to tears, and this has, several times. Be sure to listen first to the song before it, Horse, which sets the tone. I won't even bother describing this song, except to say that it's best listened to on a walk across the Golden Gate Bridge, on your way to pick a place to propose.
  8. I am the Anti-Christ to You: Kishi Bashi
    Bizarre title. Listen to this one while gazing at mountains, in real life, or in your mind.
  9. Diame: Doudou N'Diaye Rose
    Discovered during my "World Music" phase in college. This song is sung in Wolof, one of the languages of Senegal. The song features the sound of a hundred vocalists in pristine harmony, and sections which are lilting, mounting, and triumphant. Just when you think the song can't be any more spectacular: drums. Many. Loud. Amazing.
  10. I Walked: Sufjan Stevens
    Precious vocals. Heavy, unforgiving electronic background. Perfect.
  11. Amelia: Joni Mitchell
    The guitar, tuned in some impossible arrangement, forms a cloud for Joni's voice, as she sings, crypically, about the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic. Somehow, the song is also about lonliness, heartache, and features lyrics so visual, you can see the song as it unfolds.
  12. Cathedrals: Jump Little Children
    This band had a loyal following in Atlanta, when I lived there in 2002, but they broke up in their heigh of their popularity, leaving them a bit dated in their sound. Still, some of their songs can grip you, including this amazing ballad. Visual lyrics, carefully arranged strings, and Jay Clifford's haunting voice. For three minutes, you're in a Cathedral of music.
  13. Beautiful Day: Elbow
    If you don't know this group, you should. From Manchester, their music is layered, textured, and very compelling. This song stands out in it's sublime simplicity, and it's striking brightness. Like waking up out of a fog into sparkling sunshine.
  14. Vita Nostra: The Mission Soundtrack
    This song was used in a hundred commercials when "The Mission" came out, but it's for a reason. It's glorious. Listen with good headphones: your skin will tingle.
  15. Amadau and Mariam - sabali
    Suggested by @gilbaron
  16. Hallelujah by Jeff Buckley
    "Well it goes like this: The fourth, the fifth, the minor fall and the major lift..."
    Suggested by @kate81
  17. 'One Beat' by Sleater-Kinney tears me down to all nerves every damn time. "Should I come outside and run your cars / Should I run your rockets to the stars / Could you invent a world for me / I need to hear a symphony, oh-oh..."
    Suggested by @Lacy