Whatever your belief system, music is the language of the soul. What else can touch people at such a deep emotional level? Music can inspire, heal, soothe, rage, elevate, love, hate and literally captivate every other feeling that dwells deep inside us, sometimes all in the same song! As Beethoven once said, “Music should strike fire from the heart of man, and bring tears from the eyes of woman.”
The power of music is a common thread that helps unite us as a people. It transcends all discrimination – race, gender, orientation, religion, politics – as it truly is the universal language of love. It is the greatest form of expression and can help us understand different cultures through its rhythm, vibe and lyrics. The rebelliousness of Rock raging against the machine, the dreary melancholy of rainy BritPop, the defiant anger of Rap speaking from the streets, the heartfelt twang of Country music – all are windows into the world of the artists and their surroundings. Each tells a story and paints a picture of their environment and experiences. It is beautiful when music connects with a massive audience within its own culture, but it is powerful when music transcends its genre and resonates with other cultures to educate and open our minds. Channeled correctly, music can teach us tolerance, respect and acceptance.
Music can unite people, even countries, for a common cause. Just last month, in the aftermath of the recent Manchester shootings at a concert, several artists returned to the scene of the crime to heal and honor the crowd with beautiful performances reminding us of our humanity and donating millions to worthy causes. In past years we’ve witnessed such events as Live Earth (global warming), Live Aid (famine in Africa), Farm Aid (farmers) and Live 8 (global poverty). Even bitter bandmates of Pink Floyd reunited for the first time in 24 years for the noble cause of Live 8, rising above their broken relations for the noble cause of poverty. Catching any gig to witness the impact of live music is an amazing experience as the energy is electric, with thousands of rabid fans all singing in unison in euphoric bliss. The sense of community – of ONE – is awesome as there’s power in the connection of a common bond. It unites, heals and is a powerful reminder of our commonalities and not our differences. If only society or local communities could behave this way.
The beauty of music is that it can be shared by the masses but also be so deeply personal, even while with the masses. The prevalence of headphones in public is so commonplace now that we don’t even notice it anymore, but it is remarkable how each of us can create our own unique experience with music. At the airport, a bus stop or just walking the city streets, you can now be alone in a crowded place, surrounded by people yet transported to your own little world.
On a personal level, music is my drug and I am unapologetically addicted. With over 10,000 songs in my iPhone and the ability to categorize them into playlists, I can essentially tap into any mood or emotion. I can reach for a super motivational high or descend into a downward spiral towards hell. It can challenge me, provoke me, elevate me and/or inspire me. The music that resonates has to touch me where I feel the emotion the artist is striving for whether it is pain, hope, love, revenge, despair, guilt, remorse or any other human emotion. The depth can be channeled through heavy drum beats, poignant minor chords, smooth bass lines, crunchy guitar riffs, a melancholic vibe or brilliant lyrics that come from the heart. When it penetrates my soul, that is when the song and artist bullet to the top of the charts in my personal playlist.
The sentimental appeal of music cannot be underestimated either. It is nourishment, a comforting elixir like an old friend coming through our white earbuds (is that why they’re called ear “buds”?) to take us on a comforting journey. A song that evokes a moment of time, a person, a place, a mood, or a special feeling. Most songs that have deeply touched me will stir up a memory that is as vivid today upon hearing the song as the first time that song caught my ear. It unlocks a precious moment deep in the cobwebs of my memory banks and inevitably brings a smile to my face.
Jimi Hendrix famously said music is my religion. If his definition was based on the premise that music offers hope, comfort, inspiration, love and connection, well, then, count me in…music is my religion too.