"Without music, life would be a mistake."
I love music and, for that reason, I couldn't agree with Nietzsche's quote more. (I was thrilled, in fact, when I stumbled across it!) If my life was void of music, I don't think it would a life worth living. Dramatic? Yes. Untrue? No. I really do believe that music has a profound effect on my existence. Music transforms my mood, my personality, my life in many ways. For me, what drives my love of music, what really moves me most, are the lyrics. Just hearing one great line can transform my entire day. The first time I hear a song that moves me it's like falling in love. And falling hard.
I cannot get enough of music and lyrics, the way they ebb and flow to create sounds that stay with me for days and days. I'm one of those people who plays a song I love over and over (and over and over) again. I was the type of kid that the would press record on my tape player (ahh, that sounds so old!) with the radio going all day while I was at school with the hope of catching my favorite song so I'd have it on tape. (I'm sure my parents, who worked from home, loved this.) I was the type of kid that would buy CD after CD at $20 a pop for one, single, amazing song (thank god for iTunes!). I don't know when my love for music really began. Perhaps there was never a beginning point; perhaps it was always there. All I know for sure is that without music my life would not be remotely what it is today.
I do the best I can to listen to music whenever I can. I try to listen to CDs or Pandora at work. The second I get in the car, I turn on the radio or my iPod. When I'm in a store, I'm aware of the music they are playing. (Sometimes I even walk around with headphones on, but that's only when I'm really feeling a new song and just can't bear to leave it in the car while I shop.) When I'm watching a film, a good soundtrack can take over (watch Nick & Norah's Infinite Playlist if you don't know what I'm talking about). A good soundtrack can make the movie, the actors and the scenes, seem like an afterthought. Music grabs me. It sucks me in. It moves me in ways that nothing else really can.
Not everyone is that into music, I know. For some it's just background noise or something to dance to at a club. It's not that they don't like it; it's just that they don't really think much about it. And that's cool. That's just not me. For those who aren't super music-focused, you might not quite understand why I'm dedicating an entire post to music. It might seem strange or excessive. However, I'm going to take some time to explain what music is to me and maybe you'll be able to relate it to something in your life, something that has such a profoundly positive effect on your life that you can hardly put it accurately into words.
Music is so many things to me. A list of what music means to me would be endless, because, in odd ways, music effects almost everything in my life. To save us all a little time, I've chosen to highlight a few of the reasons music has had such a powerfully positive effect on my life. For me, music is many things, but here are a few of my favorites:
Music is... a best friend.
No matter what I'm going through, there is always a song to match my mood. Like a good friend, there is a song that speaks to me when I'm feeling up or down. Like a good friend, there is always a song to cheer me up or sulk with me in my (now much rarer) times of misery. Music, just like a friend, moves me and does what it can to relate to what I'm going through. While music can certainly never take the place of a real friend (no hugs, no situation-specific words of wisdom...), it's a pretty good substitute when times are tough. It's a great feeling to be able to turn on a song and find comfort in familiar words or to gain a fresh perspective from new tunes. Odd as it might sound, music is definitely a friend of mine.
Music is... a motivator.
When I just don't feel like doing something -- going to that party or talking my dog for a walk -- music pushes me along. The right songs can push me in new directions and remind me that I can do it, no matter what my sluggish brain is telling. Music -- the right kind of music -- can be deeply inspiring and can offer me words of encouragement when I feel like giving up (or not even trying). When I'm feeling listless and unmotivated, turning to an upbeat tune on my iPod can work miracles. Suddenly I'm energized, revived, ready to take on whatever challenge might come my way. Music can get inside of me and pump me up. It can get me excited about even the most mundane situations, motivating me to realize that there is always something to look forward to.
Music is... a stress reliever.
The first thing I do when I get in my car, day or night, is put on music. When I forget my iPod, it's the radio I switch on. When I can't find a good song on the radio, I pop on a favorite CD. I would have a very, very hard time driving without music, especially after a long day at work. After work, I actually appreciate the time I spend in the car on the way home, just jammin' out to some tunes. It's a great way to for me to relax and unwind. When I feel stressed, I can just close the door to my bedroom, put on some relaxing music, and just wait for the stress of the day to fade away. At times, music is even so relaxing that I use it to help me get to sleep during particularly anxious times in my life. Music, the calm kind, soothes me and puts me at ease, in a place outside of my cares and concerns.
Music is... a gift.
I'm the type of person that spends hours and hours carefully crafting CDs for my friends and family members, taking joy in writing down all of the titles and artists when the final product comes together. As much as I love listening to music, I love sharing it even more. There is nothing like hearing a great song and thinking, "Hey! I know someone who will love this song!" Likewise, there's nothing quite like when a friend says to me, "Hey, you've gotta hear this. You'll love it!" and turns up the stereo. Sharing music is one of my favorite things to do. It's a great way for me to bond with other people and to find out about new songs that I might not have otherwise discovered. As an ex of mine knows well, the way to my heart isn't flowers or candy -- it's a thoughtfully made CD.
Music is... a party starter.
One of the best ways to get any party started is to play some great music.No matter what kind of party you're having -- a low-key night with friends, a college-style rager -- you need good music. There is something about putting on music that changes the dynamic of almost any situation. It livens things up and encourages people to start moving. As someone who loves to dance (even though I'm not all that good at it!), I firmly believe that a party hasn't really started until there's some sort of music working its way through the crowd. People like music. It spices things up. It makes life -- and parties in particular -- that much more fun!
Music is... a teacher.
Everything I've learned in life, I've learned from music. Okay, that's not entirely true, but, honestly, I cannot even begin to tell you how much I've learned from music. Before I knew what love was, music taught me about it. Music taught me about pain, heartache, joy, and happiness. Lately, music has taught me to be positive, to embrace happiness, and to see the good in life. Music has inspired new ideas in me and made me think about life from new perspectives. Just like when I read a profound book, certain songs have the ability to teach me new things, to think about the world and other people in new ways. This, for me, is one of the most amazing things about music and the thing I am most grateful for. Without music, I know I wouldn't know all that I do today.
As I was writing this post, I came across some great articles about how music affects our minds. If you're interested in the topic, I'd definitely suggest checking these out to learn more:
And if you're interested in seeing what music I like to listen to, you can check out Positively Present on Blip (like Twitter, but for music!) or check out my Smile-Worthy Songs list on my site (click on the link here or on the link in the column on the right). If you're interested in a soundtrack that I created for Positively Present, you can check out the interview I did with The Sassy Minx awhile back. As you can tell, the topic of music and how it impacts our lives has always been fascinating to me. Music is so integrated into life, especially into media, and most of us (myself included) don't even realize how much music has the ability to impact what we think and do. I know how music impacts me personally, but I'd love to learn more about how music impacts YOU.
What does music mean to you? Can't live without it? Take it or leave it?
Have you noticed music's impact in your own life? If so, what has the impact been?
Photo Credit: Something Monumental