I’m convinced I came out of the womb with headphones blasting something from The Beatles or maybe Black Flag. Music has defined my life entirely and continues to accompany moments past, present, and future. While not necessarily a musician myself, music means more to me than most things in this world. And, for the first time, I’m going to try and put that meaning into words.
Holding Onto Memories
Creating soundtracks to my life is one of my most beloved pastimes. Whether it’s your first kiss, break-up, or family vacation, having a song that brings you back feels like nothing else.
Songs contain fragments of emotion within time. A picture of the exact moment which you’re reminiscing upon can’t bring about the depth of emotion that an accompanying song can.
Notes are time capsules. Within them lies the exact emotion, with the precise depth, we harbored upon first hearing that song or album.
These reactions we have to nostalgic ballads and so on, result from the reactive nature of our being. Just as we shiver when cold or sweat when hot, our body and mind store emotional-knowledge associated with important music in our lives and we react accordingly. Whether science backs this belief or not, I can’t come up with any other reason we respond to music with such intensity.
Songs hold different meaning for each person that encounters them. The writer has something they must say, and choose the avenue of music to tell their specific narrative. Along the way, more and more people hear it and construct their own meaning.
This may be the hallmark of music itself: making people feel less alone. It’s irrational believing that we are ever alone in a specific struggle, with the vast amount of people in this world and their accompanying issues. However, loneliness in any endeavor is ironically human nature.
But then, you hear it. That song that flawlessly articulates your exact situation and subsequent feelings. The world seems a little less dark as you explore the notes and form a deep connection with someone you’ve never met.
Perhaps the song’s meaning perfectly aligns with your experience, perhaps not. But art doesn’t have definition. What defines creativity is the transcendence of black and white, and an appreciation for the spectrum of colors in-between.
Just as music can make us feel less alone in solitude, it brings people together. If you’ve ever been to a live performance you can vouch for this.
The realization that we aren’t alone in our moments of both struggle and joy, ties us closer to the people around us. Especially those who also identify with these moments via music.
Songs, rhythms, and beats transcend all things that divide us in our daily lives. They bring people of all different backgrounds together in the recognition of emotions and narratives we all share.
Presence and Escape
Songs tie one moment to the next. Simply put,
“I think music can make things seem a bit more real sometimes.”
– Submarine (2011)
Listening to music slows us down. It allows us to take in moments on a deeper, more present level because our minds occupy themselves with the surrounding melodies.
We often allow moments to pass us by without truly cherishing, or even recognizing them. Music connects time to emotion and allows us to take it all in.
Moreover, songs allow escape. Just as music brings us back to moments passed, it bridges reality to daydreams and presence to pining.
A New Ear
Whether you share my attachment to music or just a casual listener, give this new perspective on music a go. Create meaning for each song, ponder what the artists initial intention was, and let it slow you down in moments worth remembering.
Music is so much more than just something to listen to. That is what music means to me, what does it mean to you?
Also published on Medium.