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Music: Its Power

I am always amazed by the capacity music has to evoke so much emotion and affect how you feel so easily. Music holds a million memories. I often hear songs and immediately get transported to that time in my life when I was first listening to it, university days, travelling the world, a single moment in time when your eyes meet his across a room… Music allows you to relive these moments and remember things you haven’t thought about in months, sometimes years!

A song’s power over your thoughts and emotions is more often than not, positive. I’m one of those people who will listen to something, remember a happy memory and beam from ear to ear as I walk down the street! It makes the arduous, robotic, monotony of the “daily commute” enjoyable and time passes so much faster.

However, there are occasions when listening to music is more like…slowly torturing yourself!  It can flood your thoughts with memories that your heart cannot handle. It creates a constant film playing in your head of happy times that are easier to just block out or that are simply too raw to remember.

I need music throughout my day. It usually lifts my spirits, distracts me and gives me an artificial soundtrack to my life in which I can lose myself and drift off. I like to daydream as well as reminisce, just get lost in my head.  Music has always been a passion but in the past two years, it has become more a “way of life”. Every day I listen to it, new music, old favourites, whole albums. I read music Blogs and share new music with friends. I managed a band for around 18 months who filled me with passion and made me appreciate the finer details in the music, what makes a song go from “alright” to “special”. I like travelling on my own because it gives me time with my music, which ultimately feeds my thoughts. I love that time to just “be”. I love to talk about it, share ideas, opinions. My main use of twitter used to be to discover and share news and advances in the industry (however this has recently not been the case)!

So…where am I going with this…that listening to music has been…a challenge lately? Absolutely. It’s been done with a heavy heart, reluctantly and I’ve had to force myself to “tune in” and “zone out”. But its been a challenge worth taking on…something I felt I needed to “force” myself to do.

Recently, a woman told me her husband died and for 7 years she could not listen to music. Nothing. It had that strong affect on her emotionally. This is obviously an extreme example but it got me thinking about the power music has and in turn, how I could use music and these thoughts and memories to…help me.

It has been a strange experience because, on the one hand, listening to my favourite bands has been almost impossible, I’ve often started listening to a song and quickly had to change it or turn the iPod off altogether! Arcade Fire’s “Crown of Love” is an example of a song, full of emotion that before Christmas, I could deeply empathise with and relate to. The Nationals “About Today” actually made me feel sick, I could feel everything he was singing about and it allowed me to hear my deepest worries out loud. I decided I’d download Radiohead’s entire discography and just let it play (a band I’ve never fully appreciated) and lost myself in my head. Yet on the other hand, it has been a positive escapism too. Listening to songs that indulged in my feelings was, in a weird way, exactly what I needed. It’s like hearing everything you can’t stop yourself from thinking, being sung in a poetic and often deeply honest manner that it is actually…comforting. You’re suddenly not “alone” and someone else is sharing in what you are feeling.

Music is magical. Listening to these songs now, even though only a relatively small period of time has past, my mind does not react the same way and it’s once again uplifting. I put on “Crown of Love” last night and thought of nothing except that it would be a lovely song to dance to, I want to be spun around and held! It no longer held the…emotional attachment, the hope that it did just a few weeks ago.

Listening to a wider range of my favourite bands has also reminded me of the many amazing times I had with “that guy from across the room”. Each song, everything, seems to hold some memory for me, some forgotten joke or moment or…argument even. I guess I have realised that…it’s OK, that for a while it is just how it’s going to be. Certain songs will probably forever flood my mind with thoughts of “us” but they are welcome memories and they deserve to be remembered.

They will also hopefully hold new memories, new moments with new and old friends and if I just stop listening, then I’m depriving myself from letting music in, stopping it from sweeping me away and taking over my mind…It’s a passion and a need that don’t think I would be able to live without.

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5 responses

  1. bigwordsmith

    There’s a great line that when Willie Nelson had just finished writing “Healing hands of time’ and sung it to his friend and fellow musician Kris Kristofferson, Kristofferson told him “It’s such a shame you have to be such a miserable b**stard to write such a great song”

    That’s why so many great musicians get lost in their writing – you’re opening a vein to deep emotion.

    You should try it sometime – I spent three years as a singer/songwriter when I split up from a 10-year relationship.

    Hugely therapeutic, and great fun, but no way to make a living!

    January 5, 2011 at 4:38 pm

    • It is true than many musical geniuses are tormented and manic depressives. I don’t think I could ever write music…nothing worth chatting about anyway! But I love to live my thoughts through others. And as for making a living…its pretty tough in any creative field these days!! x

      January 6, 2011 at 9:48 am

  2. shadywilbury

    This is a very powerful post. I know what you’re saying, because there are certain songs that still bring me to my knees, nearly four years after the loss of my dear friend. (I can’t hear ‘Stand by Me’ in public places…it hurts too much.)

    I’ve just discovered your blog, and will stick around to read.

    January 5, 2011 at 8:49 pm

    • Thank you so much for reading and posting your comment. From time to time, force yourself to listen to “Stand By Me”… perhaps with a friend and just talk about everything that was good and that you remember. The loss of your friend is a far deeper pain than mine, but maybe listening to this song every now and then will help you? I hope you enjoy what you read… x

      January 6, 2011 at 9:46 am

  3. Pingback: Feature: Kate Hollowood | musicmusingsandsuch

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