I’ve always been able to find music to lift me up or make me forget or just give me a smile on my face. These last few months, I haven’t had that.
My really close friends know the intimate details of this, but many do not and this might give some insight into the importance of music in my life and why I love writing here. Over the course of the last few months, I’ve been going through a divorce, and it has been the hardest, worst point in my life. Never let anyone tell that it’s any different. In my life, when things got bad I’ve been able to turn to music as my saving grace. In the 90s I had the likes of Bob Mould, Wayne Coyne, Trent Reznor, and Greg Dullis to help me through tough times. I’ve always been able to find music to lift me up or make me forget or just give me a smile on my face. These last few months, I haven’t had that. And for me that is a disconcerting first.
Break ups are bad enough, but without the one thing that gives you comfort makes things just that much worse. I’ve tried to find songs to make me feel better; to bring me out of the funk I was in, but it actually made things worse this time. I continue to find songs that just tore me up inside and made me feel sadder or just plain angry (damn you Jeff Buckley and your song “Lover, You Should’ve Come Over). I’ve tried cutting back on music, but that is just not an option for me. It is such a part of my life and who I am that cutting it out hurts also. I tried listening to different stuff and continued to find pieces that reminded me of something and it really hurt, even to the point of not wanting to eat much or sleep much. I’m surprised my co-workers actually haven’t called in an intervention at some point.
The first couple months, I shunned even picking up my guitar as I had no interest in even touching it. What makes it worse is it’s been incredibly difficult to listen to singers/bands that I deeply love and respect; artists like Billy Bragg, Frank Turner, etc. (read my very difficult to write review of Frank Turner’s latest album here http://www.playbackstl.com/music-reviews/12410-frank-turner–tape-deck-heart-xtra-mileinterscope). It’s put this grey cloud over my love of them, and I ain’t cool with that. It’s taken some time and a herculean effort, but I’ve finally gotten to that place in my head that I can accept music back in without breaking down or wanting to throw my iPod out the 10th Floor window near my office.
Why does music do this to us? Why does it lift us up when we feel awful or tear us apart? What is the magical power hold it has on us? For many, music strikes a chord at a deeply personal level. It is a way to connect with others. It’s a shared experience and a personal enjoyment all at the same time. As much as I loath “music” like Insane Clown Posse, their “music” speaks to their fans on a personal level. It gives them a sense of belonging and purpose, it gives them something to connect with. For the Juggalos, I have no fucking clue what that purpose is, but they have one.
Music makes you feel good, bad, happy, or sad. It can make your day when you’re down or make you dredge up memories from long ago. It can make you run faster and harder (I can attest to the power of a well-timed song on a great running mix especially during a marathon). It can make you work out harder. There are some songs that, until recently, always brought a smile to my face and a bit of a bounce in my step. I’ve seen groups of friends at concerts break into a group dance when their song came on, laughing and singing along, and I’ve seen couples look in each other’s eyes and cry together when they heard their song. Music has this power over us all. You are powerless to stop the rush of emotion and feeling you get when that one song comes on the radio or your music player of choice. I feel music, more than any other medium, has this power over us humans. I’m sure there is some scientific reasoning behind why we react the way we do to music. There has always been this connection of music and breakups. I know many people have breakup mix tapes still—I know I’m dating myself by mentioning tapes—or in this day and age mixes on your iPod, Spotify, etc. Let the music wash over you. Don’t fight it. Just close your eyes, relax, and float down stream on its sonic current. In the long run, you will be better for it. | Mike Koehler