Music is an incredible thing. It is much more than just sound and rhythm. It is something that speaks to us, makes us feel. It brings out all sorts of emotions. What emotions arise of course depend on the type of music we choose to listen to. Indeed, we may select songs that we can connect with at certain times in our lives. When we’re feeling sad, we might listen to a ballad of heartache or despair. When we’re happy, we might choose an upbeat pop song or the like. When we’re feeling energetic, we might go for a song with a strong beat, something that pumps us up. And then there are times when we might just play any song we feel like to accompany something that we are undertaking (I say this as I listen to a whole range of songs while I write this piece). Music is probably one of the most powerful things in existence, and we are truly lucky to have it. So, I thought it was past time I wrote a piece on it. Let’s explore the power and impact of music a little more.
Music brings people together. A shared love of music can truly unite people, no matter their differences. They could be from different backgrounds, different nations, or of different beliefs and values. But despite the opposition they may hold to each other in the day-to-day affairs of the world, music can bring them together, even if just for a fleeting moment. Some may also find other like-minded people with a similar taste in music, something that no doubt they will be able to bond over. Even if you don’t share the same musical taste, you could still find yourselves moving along to a good beat, a good rhythm. There are a whole range of examples where music has united people as one. Some memorable ones, some of which overlap with the next point on the healing power of music, include charity music events like Sound Relief (for those affected by the 2009 Victorian bushfires), America: A Tribute To Heroes (9/11 Memorial Concert), Live Aid (for those starving in Africa), and more recently One Love Manchester (for the victims of the terrorist attack at the Manchester Arena) and Sound Relief 2020 (for those affected by the 2020 Australian bushfires). All these events brought people together under the unifying banner of music to help those who had been affected by tragedy, disparity, and heartache. The unity seen in these cases was phenomenal. Despite their everyday differences, millions of people rallied together around good causes to help those in need. It just shows the power music has in our world.
That brings us to the healing power of music. Now this is really something. There are times in our lives when each of us face trials and tribulations. We may be struggling mentally; we may be physically hurt. We may be experiencing a loss, heartache, loneliness, anxiety, depression, illness, pain or suffering of any kind. We may be facing down something of disastrous proportions. We may be dealing with something that is overwhelming to us. We may even be connecting with the pain and suffering of someone else in our lives. During these times, things can get dark. It might feel as if storm clouds are constantly sitting right above you, keeping you on edge, unable to focus, unable to contend with the demons you face, unable to heal. Yet oftentimes music can cut through, even if only for a moment. Music can give us that desperately needed relief we crave. Particularly in times of crisis, it can be somewhat cathartic. Throughout 2020, I think many of us would have listened to a lot more music than we might usually do. Being subjected to lockdowns and isolation, music may have been our only friend at times. Indeed, it may have helped us get through these difficult times. Sometimes when we are at our lowest, music can pick us up, even just a little for a few moments. I know for me personally, music has helped me to get through some of the hardest times in my life. It has given me an escape, something that I’ve needed just for a little while, when I’ve been at my lowest, and on occasions where I’ve found myself experiencing a little more anxiety than I would like (sure I’d love none at all, but it lets me know I’m human). I know that even in our darkest hours, when we face the worst, music allows us to just have on moment away from it all.
To demonstrate this, I would like to detail an experience my family had last year. Just before my Pop passed away just over a year ago now, on his last night on this Earth before he left us to go up to Heaven, his kids, obviously all adults now, were gathered in his hospital room keeping him company as he slept. Knowing he was unlikely to make it through the night, they decided to play his favourite song for him one last time. So they put on The Gambler by the late Kenny Rogers, sat with Pop, and listened. In that moment, despite the sadness they all felt knowing their father would only be with them for a little while longer, they found some sense of comfort in the music, in this song that Pop loved so much. Whenever I hear that song now, I think of Pop, I think of that night, his final night here on Earth, with his family surrounding him, I think of the memories we had, and I remember his voice, singing that song he always loved to hear.
And that brings me to my third and what I think will be my final point in this piece on music: memories and emotions. I have decided to combine these two because I think they are linked in nature. Memories evoke emotions. Both are linked directly with music. Sometimes a song will bring forth a memory, or even a range of memories, which in turn bring forth a wave of emotions. Depending on the song, we may find ourselves remembering a moment in which we experienced great joy and happiness, or maybe one where we felt excited. We might recall a memory where we felt sad, or one where we felt nervous. Our minds may then go deeper, remembering certain people, places, and events that occurred. We might also associate a song with a person we know. A song may remind us of a certain person in our life and may bring a smile to our face when we hear it and think of them. As I mentioned before, whenever I hear The Gambler, I think of my Pop. And whilst there is a little sadness still there knowing he is no longer with us here, I still find the hint of a smile showing up on my face, knowing he is looking down on me smiling and singing along. And so I sing along too, knowing he is with me in my heart. Sometimes when I hear different songs I think of moments from my childhood, from my time at high school, from times I have spent with family and friends, and even from times I have spent by myself. Just to give another example, whenever I listen to songs that I would listen to while studying, doing schoolwork in the mornings before school, walking up to the bus stop in my senior years, walking home, and songs I would listen to on the bus, I remember those times like they happened yesterday. Memory is an incredible thing, and music is a powerful trigger for it.
The power of music is truly something special. It brings people together. It motivates us. It provides comfort and healing to our lives. It evokes memories and emotions within us. We often find songs that have great meaning to us. Some of us may even write and create our own (which can be very therapeutic). To some degree, music is like a universal language of the world. No matter who we are, where we’re from, what we do, or where we are at in our lives, music persists and unites. It is always there with us on the journey we call life, and we are incredibly lucky to have it by our side.