Embracing Adventure “Life is either a daring adventure or nothing.” ~~Hellen Keller

Just Music???

Posting about “feel good” music yesterday reminded me of a post I made years ago on a blog that no longer exists, so I thought now might be a good time to add that opinion category I’ve been thinking of adding for a while and to kick it off with an updated version of that post, which was originally posted November 2, 2008.

In early November 2008, I had been invited to a someone’s house to watch a movie and had started watching Tiesto’s Elements of Life World Tour prior to going over. When I got there, I mentioned that it had been difficult to pull myself away and said something to the effect of, “Tiesto is awesome in general but a whole ‘nother level when you see this show.” At the time, I could only imagine what it would be like for the people actually in the crowd. On December 28th of that year, I did get to see him in concert and got up to the front row. I wish I’d written something immediately following it because it was amazing! I didn’t take a camera into the show and wish I had. (But wishing I had prompted me to take one to every concert I’ve been to since). This is the best video I was able to find on YouTube of the show I was at, which doesn’t really do the experience justice.

This guy’s reply to my enthusiasm was a kind of confused stare and the comment, “It’s just music.” It hit me then: here’s one more reason I and this person (who we’ll just say I “dated for a time” to avoid explaining the situation that, as a friend said, Facebook’s “it’s complicated” status was made just for) were never going to work. If you don’t know me all that well (and for sure if you do), one thing you should quickly come to realize is that I love music and, tied to that, dancing. So, for me to be told “it’s just music” about something so intoxicating to me completely baffled me.

When was music ever “just music?” If it was just three chords and a façade of a message or even some of the pop songs of today that you can mindlessly sing along to because they’re catchy and that’s about it, maybe I’d let you slide with “it’s just music.” But even then, maybe you’re doing injustice to the word “music” because music, at its core, is so much more than the word itself.

And I don’t know how to even explain this to someone who obviously doesn’t feel or understand the power that music can have. As Victor Hugo said, “Music expresses that which cannot be said and on which it is impossible to be silent.” Along those lines, Gustav Mahler said, “If a composer could say what he had to say in words, he would not bother trying to say it in music.” And the music I’m referring to that often hits me the most rarely has much in the way of lyrics. So how do you explain the effect of the wordless “shorthand of emotion (Leo Tolstoy)” when it was put that way precisely because words cannot capture it all? Still, I will try:

The Crystal Method on May 9, 2009 at the Orlando, FL House of Blues (which is technically in Lake Buena Vista, FL).

Everyone knows the effects that drugs and alcohol can have. They understand, even if they don’t partake, the lowered inhibitions, heightened awareness, mellowness, hyperactivity, sexual energy, euphoria and scores of other experiences that can come with the use of these things. But for me, while I have been to concerts where I’ve had alcohol and to ones where other substances were readily available if I’d wanted them, I don’t need any of that for music—if it’s good music—to take over. And I think if it’s good music, you shouldn’t have to. Sure, you can heighten your experience with those things if you choose to, but I think Tiesto himself said it well, although he spoke of trance at the time: “You can really feel the emotions in it. You can get to another level without the drugs.” And I think that’s how it is. All those things I mentioned drugs affecting, music itself can affect, and so much more. In its way, music is a drug.

While I’ve not been particularly moved by Bob Marley’s music, one of my favorite musical quotes is by him: “One good thing about music: when it hits you, you feel no pain.” I don’t care what is going on in my life, who screwed me over, or what has got me stressed; if I put on whatever music I’m feeling at the time (another thing you’ll learn about me—I have eclectic taste), turn it up loud, and maybe even dance around, it doesn’t matter. It disappears. And if I’m already happy, music can enhance that. As Berthold Auerbach puts it, “Music washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life.” Billy Joel similarly says, “I think music in itself is healing. It’s an explosive expression of humanity. It’s something we are all touched by. No matter what culture we’re from, everyone loves music.”

Well, there is some debate on the latter part, especially as this topic has even been raised, but still, for many of us, music is not just loved, it’s necessary. When I was in the process of moving from Ohio to Florida, my dad put my stereo in a box and made sure it got in my tiny car full of stuff. I don’t remember exactly what my mom said regarding this, but it prompted my dad to say, “Things that are essential to you and me, she doesn’t understand.” I don’t know how much I actually have in common with my dad, but he had a point, and I realized there was at least one thing that we do. While I grew up on and still occasionally listen to “his” music, I have doubts if he’d care anything for most of “mine”, but still, at least we agree on the point that music is essential to our lives.

Green Day on August 3, 2009 at the St. Pete Times Forum in Tampa, FL

Green Day on August 3, 2009 at the St. Pete Times Forum in Tampa, FL.

Maybe you don’t believe me. So, consider this. Ludwig van Beethoven said, “Music is a higher revelation than all wisdom and philosophy. Music is the electrical soil in which the spirit lives, thinks and invents.” This is further proven true because music is so powerful that Einstein even credits it for his Theory of Relativity saying, “It occurred to me by intuition, and music was the driving force behind that intuition. My discovery was the result of musical perception.”

I just can’t imagine life without music. Someone once asked the question, if you had to be blind or deaf, which would you pick? I love sight, and there are so many beautiful things to see, and I’d miss that sense if it were gone, but I didn’t have to think long before answering that I’d be blind…because at least if I were blind, music could transcend that darkness (but then again, music is so powerful, it even transcended Beethoven’s deafness).

I liken my need for music a bit to writing (and if you are not a writer, just imagine anything else you do that you have some passion for). I don’t necessarily notice how much writing affects my life until I don’t do it for a long period of time, and then I get back into it. Then, I realize how much more myself I feel when I’m writing, and I have a sense of satisfaction with myself and my life that doesn’t come in quite the same way at any other time.

Flogging Molly at the Orlando, FL House of Blues on February 11, 2011

Considering that I have several devices capable of playing music, it’s rare to go a day during which I haven’t listened to music at some point (or at least whistled or hummed to myself), and whether cleaning, cooking, driving, or whatever I can usually be found, somehow, dancing. But I have definitely gone through periods of time where I’ve listened to less music and/or danced less than I usually would, and then, when I get back into listening to music more (or come back to a genre, band, or artist I haven’t listened to in a while), go out clubbing when I haven’t gotten a chance for a long time, or get to a concert, it hits me anew how powerful music is for me…and that night I first watched Elements of Life definitely marked one of those nights.

Maybe it’s like anything else one loves: you need a chance every once in a while to miss it, so, when you come back to it, you realize how damn lucky you are to have it in your life, how essential it is to any lasting happiness, and how hard it would be to live the rest of your life without it. Or maybe it’s like the quote of indeterminate origin: “For those who understand, no explanation is needed. For those who do not understand, no explanation is possible.”

For your sake, my friends, I hope you are in the former set, those who understand, who know that no good music is ever “just” that. It doesn’t matter if “all you need is a kick drum and a good bassline, and a hi-hat (Peace Division ft. Daniel Diamond,Club Therapy),” or “rising up in a hip-hop dance (Sublime, All You Need),” or even if “all you need is rock ‘n’ roll (White Lion),” the fact remains: “Without music, life would be a mistake (Friedrich Nietzsche),” and with it, well, if you love it, you already know.

A note on Amazon links: I am a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.

Related Posts:

7 Thoughts on “Just Music???

  1. Well said Amanda. And I agree with some mindless/senseless pop songs being “just music”, the ones that have such a generic sound (incidentally, check this out: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5pidokakU4I). But yes, some of the most beautiful songs I’ve ever heard have had the power to bring tears to my eyes, or make me feel so elated while dancing at a club – without the influence of alcohol or any mood-altering substances.

  2. Outstanding post. Well said. And I love Rob P’s Pachelbel Rant, too. The Axis Of Awesome took that up another notch with one of their tracks, ‘4 Chords”… http://youtu.be/oOlDewpCfZQ

  3. Pingback: 5 Songs to Chase Your Worries Away - Investing in Fitness

Post Navigation

%d bloggers like this: