Friday, August 15, 2008

The Power of Music

The power of music.

As I type this I’m listening to a greatest hits CD from NKOTB. That’s New Kids on the Block for the uninitiated. New Kids on the Block, who 15 years after disbanding have come together for the mother of all reunions. Obviously, if you read me, you know that I was a serious “Block-head” and this reunion has been the source of much nostalgia and laughter and joy for my friends and I. We are giddy 13 year olds all over again any time one of their new songs come on the radio. We realize how silly this all is, but the truth is, we don’t care.

For me personally, it’s an opportunity to bring back some of those sweet, innocent, naïve feelings of my youth. Back when daydreaming about Donnie Wahlberg meeting and falling in love with me wasn’t as unrealistic as it sounds now. Back when the sound of his voice on a song could send me into tizzy of swooning. Back when my bedroom walls were practically wallpapered with posters of the “5 hardest working guys in show business”, the boys from Boston. Back before my first real heart break, before work, before responsibilities, before reality hit.

But this post is not, believe it or not, about NKOTB. It’s about the music. Or more accurately, about the emotions behind the music. Listening to this CD I find myself with goosebumps as each new track begins, and a flood of memories rushing back to the surface. “Remember when…what about that time when we…and how about when they…” It’s about the feeling invoked somewhere so deep within that I can’t find the words to do them justice.

When I tell you that each and every time I hear their new song on the radio I can’t help but let out a girlish giggle, EACH AND EVERY TIME, I’m not explaining it well enough even then. For me, with NKOTB, it was a huge part of my adolescence, so it ties in with a large chunk of the time when my personality was being formed. These songs remind me of those times, remind me of those defining moments in my development.

Nostalgia is one hell of a thing, ain’t it? I wish I could bottle up the feel good feelings this music produces and sell it. I’d be a millionaire. But then, NKOTB are already doing that. With this CD they’ve “packaged up” nice and neatly, those feelings in thousands of former fans, and made it accessible once again. And are likely making millions all over again.

But it’s more than just the New Kids and their music. Music in general has a magic in it that goes beyond any explanation. Different people are moved by different art forms, for me, music has always been the ultimate. Not being musically inclined myself in any way, my involvement has always been limited as the spectator, the listener, but that does not make me any less avid of a lover of the art form. Maybe it makes me even more so, because I’m not limited with knowledge of how things are supposed to sound. For me, it’s not about the rules, it’s about the end result and how it reaches in my heart and holds on tight.

I could easily name you a song for each vital moment of my existence. The ups and the downs. The first time I fell in love, the first time I had my heart broken, the day I moved to a new country, the day one of my friends was killed, moving out on my own, feeling lost and alone, struggling to accept my place in the world, finding faith all over again. Each moment with its very own defining soundtrack.

To this day, the Bette Middler song, “Wind Beneath My Wings”, which was my 8th grade graduation song, can reduce me to tears instantly. As can “Friends” by Michael W. Smith, for more personal reasons, “One Sweet Day” by Mariah Carey and Boys II Men, which played on the radio regularly when a very good friend passed away, and a slew of others. At the other end of the spectrum, are songs that always elevate my spirits, no matter what. Among them are “Celebration”, “Everything” by lifehouse and “Hotel California” by The Eagles, because of the memories it brings back of good times with girl friends in pool halls.

More than just the memories, however, for me music is also a sweet escape, a form of meditation. They say that to sing is to pray twice…to listen to music for me is to hear God speak. At times, just the right song will come on the radio and tell you everything you need to know. If I’m angry, I have a soundtrack of songs I can play to vent my anger, let it soak up in the drums and guitar riffs, and purge it at the top of my lungs. When sad, the right tracks can either lift my spirits, or allow the tears to flow freely, releasing the toxins and soothing the soul. And at this point in my life, when I’m in the midst of a spiritual renewal of sorts, music has been my constant companion, guiding, encouraging, clarifying…and just providing the background music that I need to survive.

I’ve said more than once that I don’t know if I could live without music in my life. I don’t really know that I could. I know I wouldn’t want to try.

So, as I sit back and enjoy my CD, and smile at the opening beats of every song, I wonder, what has music done for you? What songs bring back those indescribable feelings for you? Does that need to hear music consume you as it does me? Tell me, I want to know.

And in case you’re wondering? I still believe Donnie Wahlberg will meet and fall in love with me. Hey, it could happen.


qualcosa di bello said...

i sure do believe in the power of music! my iPod is a testament to the music of my entire life (the earliest songs i can recall to some brand new downloads). this weekend as a surprise i am taking my husband to see 2 bands of his youth~~ styx & boston!! i am hoping he has the best time!!

qualcosa di bello said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

I've always found it amazing how a simple song playing on the radio can instantly transport you to another time of your life. Three cheers for nostalgia!

Jill said...

There are days or weeks when I dont get music at all, and I find myself depressed. But now, I play music and sing to the baby. and it gives me some calm. because one of these days i'll probably have a little off-key belter singing 'Fancy' or some such and making me laugh.