**Note from the author- This piece was written on a lighter note than most of the topics I’ve touched upon over the past few weeks. I believe music is a very important aspect of life and sometimes it is taken for granted. I wrote this to remind others that music is indeed created for enjoyment, but there are also other reasons music is a vital part of the lives we live. Just take a moment, read, soak it in, and then listen to the music play.
By- Traci Taylor
Live, Thrive, & Be Vulnerable series
There are many ways of expressing emotions in life, but what seems to be one of the most powerful forms of expression is music. It can alternate moods, trigger certain memories, tell stories, and draw connections between people. Imagining a world without music is quite difficult, but envisioning that world puts in perspective the vital role music plays in everyday life.
I had a conversation with someone once about how certain songs have the power to bring back memories of specific moments from the past. The reality of that is both joyous and sorrowful because not every bit of music brings back pleasant memories. However it demonstrates the significance songs can have throughout life. Often music is used as an aid to get through certain moments whether it may be a good or bad life experience.
Music has always been my core inspiration as a writer. I was never that musically inclined (minus being able to play a few guitar chords) but have always turned to music to spark creativity. I read an article not too long ago in Billboard when they interviewed Stevie Nicks and she mentioned the power advantage that a writer has. Just like stories inspired by life events, sometimes it is easy to forget that music is created in the same sense. Stevie’s words in the interview really kind of summed up my feelings about writing and music:
“That’s why it’s good to be a writer, because you get to lash back…. Just because a relationship ended badly, and shitty things happened, you cannot tell that to the world. But you can write a song about it, in three verses and a bridge and a chorus, that tells the really magical moments….”
It is an outlet of expression, there is no limit to music and that’s what makes it so fantastic. No matter how someone may be feeling there is more than likely a song that was written about that exact emotion. The connections with music and emotions are endless, regardless of the mood or genre.
There are genres for different emotions; it just needs to be narrowed down to the individuals taste. Although I am an advocate for mostly older tunes (there seems to be a more authentic feel to music from the past, in my opinion) I do indulge in music from the current era. The only true way to take full advantage of music is to explore all genres from different decades, and listen without bias. Music much like literature or any other art form is about expression, putting it out into the world, and hoping it makes some sort of impact.
Sometimes things that happen in life aren’t easy to deal with and there doesn’t seem to be any solution of making the situation better. That’s usually when I blast music, loudly. There are particular songs (sometimes despondent ones because there’s nothing better than a great sad song) that really help to brighten things up a bit. Never underestimate the power of a good crying session with the soundtrack of some of the best sad songs.
Sad songs are fantastic and having a playlist filled with them is something I am an advocate for. Whenever I feel that awful overwhelming feeling of melancholy kick in I listen to one of my favorite songs, “Landslide”. Ever since I was a kid this song has been the one that somehow has the power to bring tears to my eyes. For some reason it reminds me of my dad and whenever I begin to miss him, I like to listen to it. Recently I found the Fleetwood Mac album at a local record store in the city and the first time I heard this track on vinyl, I swear chills rushed through my body. Hearing music on vinyl is more than just listening; it’s an experience of sorts. Perhaps that is why I’ve always been so interested in collecting vinyl records over the years. Vinyl shopping and listening to records are my absolute favorite form of therapy. When in doubt, put the records on. When words are put to rhythms and beats it creates an escape for the listener to get lost, even for a few minutes.
Another song that can make me sorrowful is, “Fire and Rain” by James Taylor, This song I had on repeat for weeks after I got the news of my friend Logann’s passing. As dejected as I felt, sometimes sad songs have a way of providing comfort just to get through the day. Melancholy moods can’t always be cured with more sadness, sometimes that’s not the best solution. In which case music can still be the answer, just perhaps more upbeat tunes (that’s why music is so great, there’s a whole endless selection to choose from). My go-to “pick-me-up” music varies upon mood, but it’s usually: Glenn Miller, Grouplove, or certain Rap music (Kanye, Childish Gambino, etc.).
When I just need a little boost of confidence I tend to turn to Yeezy or Childish Gambino. (Everyone is entitled to their opinion, but if people would listen to music without bias of an artist’s personal life it would be easier to hear the talent in their sounds). I’ve also been known to freestyle Notorious B.I.G. , but that was back when whiskey was my water and I’m not too sure how confident with my rap skills I am sober.
Music contains the type of power that can trigger memories from over the years that transport back to specific periods in life. There are some songs from the past that can bring back very vivid memories that were once forgotten. Personally hearing anything in regards to Whitney will forever remind me of that drunken night in Philly. The night she passed away was my first night with a girl and my friend repeatedly screamed “Traci loves Philly” loudly in the next room (never once did I imagine I would relate Whitney Houston with my coming out story). The memories music can draw attention to certainly aren’t always upsetting ones, there are also happy unforgettable (even momentous lesbionic) moments.
Even childhood memories can be triggered by certain songs from the past. My sisters and I had a tendency to make ridiculous music videos growing up whenever boredom struck. Now whenever I hear “Thong Song” or “I’m like a Bird” I laugh and cringe simultaneously. As fun as it was in the moment I dread the thought of anyone other than the three of us watching those videos (thankfully no one owns a VHS player anymore). Little were any of us aware at the time that those songs would contain such ridiculously humorous, yet precious memories of growing up together.
Everyday the soundtrack to life is being made by the song you choose to play. That very tune will have the power to bring you back to that moment in time, whether it seems to have significance now or not. Music itself tells a story with its lyrics and rhythms that it contains, but it is what that song means to you that make it memorable to your life.
Take a moment when you get behind the wheel and listen to those songs that make you feel an overwhelming sense of emotion. There’s nothing more intimate and relaxing than being able to drive around aimlessly listening to the music through car speakers. Since I moved to the city I no longer have that luxury, so I choose to walk around with headphones instead. While I walk I tend to look up at the skyline of endlessly tall buildings against the warm blue sky and reflect with a smile that I am the one in control of the creation to the soundtrack of memories to my life.