Feel the Music

Isn’t it crazy how a song can make you feel feelings before you know you’re feeling them? Or fill your head with a memory without actually actively recalling said memory?

The human brain is a mystifying thing. For my education degree, I had to pick a concentration. Most people chose science or history, so they just had to take a handful of classes and be done with it. I chose Psychology, and my adviser told me that if I wanted to do that, I had to go a step beyond “concentration” and make it an official minor. I ended up taking so many Psychology classes that I was 4 credits (1 class) shy of having a psych major along with my education double-major. Human behavior is so interesting and I love learning about how and why we do the things we do.

Because of this background, I tend to see things from a slightly psychological standpoint. In that, I sometimes wonder why someone does what they do or what they might be feeling to make them act a certain way. So when a song comes on my iPod and I want to cry before I even realize it’s the beginning of For Good or when I’m suddenly thinking of Oxford before I realize Between the Lines is playing, I wonder what it is about music that creates such a strong bond to these feelings and memories.

There are some songs that I can pinpoint exactly where I was not when I first heard the song, but where I first listened to it. For example, Regina Spektor’s “On The Radio“. It was on my iPod and it had played a few times before. But for some reason, walking to class one day, walking through Astor Place, these words struck me. Hard.

This is how it works. You’re young until you’re not. You love until you don’t. You try until you can’t. You laugh until you cry. You cry until you laugh. And everyone must breathe until their dying breath.

I replayed this song over and over until I got to class that day, wrapping my head around these words and trying to figure out why I loved them so much.  The rest of the song, too, but this line specifically. Whatever had been going on in my head that day, these words were exactly what I needed to hear at this moment, a moment that I remember for no reason in particular.

I’m somewhat convinced my iPod can read my mind, because it will dig to the depths of itself and come up with exactly what I need sometimes, even though 95% of the time, I’m listening to my 3,000+ songs on shuffle. See, I’m a music collector of sorts. If I like enough songs by an artist, I’ll download their whole album. I don’t always sit and listen to their entire album at once. Sometimes I just throw it into the pool and meet them as they come.  And sometimes they come at just the right moment.

Like “Am I The Only One” by the Dixie Chicks. Again, for some reason, I remember exactly where I was when I first heard this song (walking down Lafayette street from my dorm to campus, past some construction) and every word to this song was everything I had been feeling to an overwhelming degree at that moment.

I see a shadow in the mirror and she’s laughing through her tears. One more smile’s all I can fake. There is a wound inside me and it’s bleeding like a flood. There’s times when I see a light ahead…but hope is not enough.

Being able to relate to song lyrics has always been very important to me. Writing song lyrics in my notebooks or in my journals or away messages was a way I expressed myself without actually having to express myself. I would draw the words in fun ways, pretty fonts, dramatic shapes, meaningful configurations. It was a way of letting out how I was feeling without actually saying what I was feeling. If confronted, I could always hide behind the fact that it was just a song. I just liked the song. That’s all…

So maybe it’s not like this for everyone. Maybe only some of us are so deeply affected by music that our brains uses it as a link to thoughts and memories. Maybe it’s only like this for those of us who feel music.  Or use music as an outlet for our feelings.

I feel like there’s no way to talk about this without sounding like I’m high off my gourd and contemplating the meaning of life. I’m not trying to be hippy-ish or deep, I’m just trying to express something that I feel and experience (that you might, too!) that is hard to explain. I promise the only drug coursing through my veins is caffeine.

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~ by Valerie Anne on 01/11/2012.

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