Tuesday, 31 December 2013

Healing Qualities of Music

Why I am consistently amazed at how freeing music can be, I'll never know. Each time it happens, I always think: "Yes, this is what life is about!" And then I promptly forget it until the next time...So, now I'm making sure to write it down.
You see, the thing is, we allow everyday life to barge in and grip us by the throats. It gives us a shake and says, "Don't you know this is reality!? Come on now!" And there we are, trembling at the horror of it, forgetting all the things that make us happy and carefree.

It has been a busy few months here; hectic, sometimes unfulfilling, and often frustrating. So, it was with great joy that I went to see a tribute band play last night - time to let my hair down and indulge in some music. That they are tribute band to The Band and Bob Dylan's music, well, indulgence on a platter, really.

Over the last month I've been so focused on other things (namely trying to settle in a new country...oddly preoccupying) that I've rarely picked up the guitar; though sacrilege in itself, I've also hardly listened to music. It has only been when I'm speeding in trains hither and thither that I've been able to put on my headphones and listen. This last week, over the Christmas period, I discovered loads of great music through Amazon's free music deals. It was such a joy to just sit and listen to new music.

That being said, listening to old favourites is equally soothing. On my most recent foray, I put on what I like to call my "travel songs" - a sort of justification for the life of wanderlust I lead. Two of these are "Into the West," and "Brother Wind" by Tim O'Brien. I met him many years ago at a Folk Festival; a pleasant fellow and such a talented musician. I've devoured all his music since. Anyway, I sat there in the train with a silly grin on my face because I knew, that once again, I was doing what I was meant to do. I have listened to these songs on so many occasions when I was unsure of my decision to "take to the wind" as it were, and each time it has worked out. Nice to be reminded.

As I stood listening last night to The Band's songs being breathed into new life by the tribute band, with me singing along to my favourites, I finally felt reinvigorated. The same shocking feeling as previous times of "Golly, this is the life!" passed through me.  Maybe I don't get out to concerts enough...Anyway, my point is that music is something I desperately enjoy - both the playing and listening of it. It is always such fun to watch a live band, to see how they play, to feel their energy, and to hopefully take a part of that joy of music home with you.

I think part of it is that music has a certain healing quality. It puts things in perspective. Cans things be so monstrous if good music can still be played? It brings all types of hope: can I learn that riff and better my own guitar playing? Beautiful lyrics that whisper of shared experiences; moving melodies that speak their own language that needs no translation.

The ironic thing is that music is part of our everyday lives: we hear it in the car, on advertisements on television, radios at supermarkets, some youth's blaring headphones, damaging their hearing before they even know how to listen, elevators - truly everywhere. And yet, I think it is only when we participate actively with it - that is to say, becoming involved in the music by listening and allowing it to change you in some way, be it mood or whatever, can we really appreciate it.

So, let your troubles slip away - take ten minutes (about two and a half songs!) to listen - I mean really listen to some music, whatever strikes your fancy - and see where it takes you.