The Power of Music

Now that I have finished school, I am finally able to get to my own writing. During one of my writing sessions, I felt so great that I had a “writer’s high”! It is the same exact feeling I get when I have a “runner’s high”. For those unfamiliar with those terms, I can only describe it as being in the zone. Everything flows so smoothly that you hardly need to put in any effort and everything is  working out perfectly. In writing, the words come flowing out of you without even thinking about it. Nothing on the outside world phases you. What feels like a minute is really an hour. And with running, you just find your perfect pace, and you’re running as fast as ever without breathing hard and the miles add up quickly.

Then I realized that in each of my cases of writer’s and runner’s high, there was one common denominator – music. First of all, I cannot run without music. At worst, I’ll listen to a podcast. Otherwise, I cannot function. The only exception is when I run a race. I don’t need anything because I can feed off of the energy. Writing is a little bit different. Sometimes I listen to music while I’m writing, and I get transported into my story if it’s the right playlist for what I am writing. Sometimes, it can be distracting listening to music  with lyrics while I’m writing. So, I’ll either listen to jazz, or I’ll listen to a coffee shop ambience or city ambience from YouTube. If I get the right playlist while I’m writing (aka The Write Playlist), I get in the zone, make great progress, and fall in love with writing all over again, and don’t want to stop.

What makes music so powerful? I’m sure there is some kind of scientific explanation that involves dopamine. But I am fascinated. Music plays an instrumental part (see what I did there?) in every aspect of our lives. We play it at celebrations, such as parties (even if it’s as simple as singing “Happy Birthday”), and weddings. And we also play music during dark times, such as funerals. As far as I know, there is a musical element in most religions. I even remember during my many visits to Bahrain during Desert Shield/Desert Storm, there were a several times during the day when there was a call to prayer, which was musical, over loudspeakers throughout the city.

Music is also great for helping us to remember things. It’s no accident that most of us learned the alphabet by singing the ABC’s to the tune of “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star”. And thanks to Coach’s brilliant lesson on the show, Cheers, to this day I remember that Albania borders on the Adriatic.

The most powerful aspect of music is that it is a tether to our past. It’s amazing how a song can immediately transport you to another time and another place. You can be brought back to a childhood memory, a road trip, a school dance, your first love, or even a peaceful experience like a day at the beach while Casey Kasem brings you the Top 40 of the week. Also, power may not always be good. You can be brought back to a bad time in your life, such as music that have been playing frequently while going through a breakup or another heartbreaking loss.

You can return to a physical place from your past, and it is not always the same. Time can cause some wear and tear. But a particular song from the past is exactly the same, even if your life experience may change your perspective on it. Either way, that connection is always there. You can relive a memory or see how much you’ve grown.

Music lives on forever, even after the singer or band members have passed on. Recently, we have lost one of my favorite singers, Irene Cara. She had a beautiful voice, energy and soul. While a lot of artists I grew up with have been passing away, some hit me harder than others. Irene Cara, Whitney Houston, Freddie Mercury, and John Lennon seem to have hit me the hardest. But, their music will always live on.

I don’t understand why music seems to be more powerful than most things. But, I’m glad it is. It can motivate, inspire, and tell a story, and will live on forever.

Are there any sons that bring back powerful memories or make you feel great? Are there any you’d like to mention that are tough to hear when they come on? Please comment below. I’d truly love to hear from you!


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