I swear what I am about to tell you is true. Not only is this true but more than being true now, this has been true for as long as man or woman has been able to create sound.
The truth is sometimes nothing speaks to us (or for us) better than music. Sometimes, the rhythm is the only thing that makes sense. The music, the notes, the flare of emotion, which I can feel when the guitar strings play. When there are no words, to me, music is something that makes sense.
There are songs that I have in my mental player, which link me back to specific moments. Some of these memories are good and some are not. But ah, good or bad, at least I had music. At least I had something to listen to. I had something to transfer my energy, to create pictures in my mind, to speak for me, sing for me and to act as one of my anthems when I needed it most.
When I needed to scream, the music screamed for me. When I needed to mourn or weep, there was music. There were notes and lyrics, choruses and so on.
I have songs that remind me of times and places, which were already unforgettable. The time and the moments were pure, in and of itself; however, as it is with all memory; sound allows us a different depth. Our senses are literally incredible. For example, smells can bring us back to an old memory. Take the smell of food from your childhood. The hint of such aromas can bring us back to a favorite meal. The smell connects us to a memory, which leads us to a chemical reaction and/or the end result of emotion.
And for the moment; say, for example, let’s say I smell cinnamon toast the way Mom made it; I find this immediately takes my thinking back to a connection of warmth and comfort. I can literally see Mom and the way she made my toast for me. Plus, Mom knew this was one of my favorites. She knew this was always something that always made me happy. If I think about this carefully enough, I can see the plates we had at the time, which were green. I can hear the sound of the plate hitting the counter when Mom served the toast to me.
Next, I can feel a flush in my bloodstream as it moves beneath my skin. This is the chemical reaction I keep telling you about. More to the point, this is a positive reaction because the association is anabolic or constructive; this is the synthesis and the combining of elements such as joy, comfort, love and warmth. As a result, the mind takes this connection and delivers this message to create emotion.
Music does the very same thing. Music is a connection, Music is an association and a delivery of messages, which at times, music is our ability to speak. Sometimes this is our only outlet. I often hear songs that open the valves, which allow me to feel without hesitation or concern
Music is part of our nature. It has been for a very long time or, well, I can say that I knew the musical instruments dates back at least 60,000 years.
Now, that’s a long time.
The Neanderthal flute dates back 60,000 years, which by far is something that outdates the hippies or the longhaired bands that I grew up with. The Neanderthal flute outdates the violin or the genius of names such as Mozart or Beethoven.
This instrument is before them and before anything. This little flute was something that created a spark, which answered a need. This proves there has always been a need to rock, even 60,000 years back.
I wonder about the songs. I wonder about the emotion behind them. I wonder if someone mastered this little flute in such a way that 60,000 years ago, others from their tribe sat around a campfire, gazing at the orange flames, hearing the crackle of the fire and listening to the rhythm of someone playing this flute and thinking their translation of “Yeah man. That’s deep!”
I have a memory of sitting in a vacant spot in my town. The sunset turned the sky into a perfect shade of orange. In fact, there are only two other times in my life when I have seen the sky become this color. I was a kid the first time I saw something like this. I had music wired to my ears. The name of the band I was listening to was Pink Floyd. The title of the album is Dark Side of The Moon. I was listening to the jazzy parts and hearing the music in such a different way. I was alone for a reason. I had something going on in my life. I had something going on in my heart too. I was too different and life was too difficult, but ah, man, the song which comes to mind is The Great Gig In The Sky. I tell you this was perfect.
There are other songs too, like Tuesday’s Gone by Lynyrd Skynyrd. I remember a walk home in the early morning. The frost took hold of the grass in my crazy little town. I was walking home after a wild night and although the times were tumultuous at best, there was a victory here that my words could never describe. It’s the music, I swear.
Mom always liked the song Times of Your Life by Paul Anka. This song has history with us. Although some of the connections with this are not the best, still, Mom loved this song. I suppose the opening lyrics said it all. “Good morning yesterday. You wake up and time has slipped away.” Mom always loved this. And me, well, as I had mentioned before. In fact, just by writing down the opening lyrics, I am connected to the sound, which I can hear in my thoughts, which leads me to a connection of memory, which I can see in my mind. And there’s Mom, dancing and happy. She is smiling at me. She is proud. And me, I am feeling the blood rush beneath my skin again because the music allows my memory a sense of depth. Music provides a deeper dimension. In fact, if I close my eyes, I can almost hear what Mom said to me the last time we heard this song together.
See what I mean?
Sometimes, nothing speaks to us or for us like music.
I think about composers like Beethoven. He lost his hearing but yet, he never lost the sounds of music. Although he lost his hearing, Beethoven wrote symphonies because he could still hear the music in his mind. And to him, this was his connection. This was his association of joy and the delivery of messages that could make him think, feel, weep and rejoice.
My friend Ken took me to see the band Pearl Jam. This was a great show. At the end, there were three girls standing up against the stage. The band had left the stage and the lights were on but yet, these three girls stood there, holding each other. All of them were weeping and crying hysterically.
Now, in fairness, I do not know what they were crying about. I do not know what their story was. I only know there must have been a deeper connection. I know they witnessed a show and listened to music that linked them to a connection of thought and emotion.
And do you know what? I get it.
I get the connection. I get the emotion. I get the memories and visions and flavors, and the tastes and the smells. I get it because I have this too.
There are songs that I have retired from my mental playlist. I did this out of respect for the memories, which I’ve laid to rest. There are other songs, which however this works; similar to when Mom made cinnamon toast, the connection to the music just works for me. The association and the chemical response in my body is unbelievable.
This is why we have music . . . to help us feel.
Have you ever listened to Van Morrison while heading out east on a boat and the sun was sinking behind you?
Trust me. You want to do this.
Ever hear the song Sweet Thing or Into The Mystic?
Ever take an early morning drive while the anxiety is high, there’s too much going on at once and the mind is expecting the impending doom?
I have . . .
This happened to me just the other day. I put on the song, The Only Living Boy in New York.
This is a good one.
There’s another song called America. Both are from Simon and Garfunkel. And I get it if this is not your trip but hey, that’s the great thing about music. To each their own. Whatever blows your hair back. Whatever lights your rocket, right? Whatever floats your boat is another thing I hear people say but sometimes, I have to find the right song to help me sail on because otherwise, life has a way of sinking my ship.
Know what I mean?
Music is the art of sound.
All I can say is I’m a fan.