High school can be a very exploratory time for people. It is a time when they really begin to define themselves as individuals, to separate themselves from their peers with their own opinions and beliefs. This is why I was so surprised to hear a comment in my high school choir class one fall afternoon. As part of a team building exercise, we were learning more about our classmates by answering questions about ourselves. The question of musical taste was posed to one young member of the group. Now, as a general rule, sophomore boys are never that bright, but this comment took the cake. His answer to the question of his favorite band was, “I don’t know, I don’t really listen to music.” Of course everyone laughed, because of the obvious incongruity, and so this story stuck with me. However, I feel this story really has a deeper meaning.
For anyone to say that they do not listen to music is an out and out lie. We are exposed to music almost the instant we come out of the womb, from the radio in the car to theme songs of television shows. A more apt way to put the sentiment would be for someone to say they do not choose the music they listen to. This is a very sad state for someone to be in from my point of view, because I believe that the music a person listens to has a very important impact on their life. The choice here lies in whether we decide ourselves what to listen to, or if we allow ourselves to be told what music we should hear.
Music is so pervasive and influential, I believe, because it is a way of telling a story with the emotion already built in. Any movie you watch will have music playing that is constantly telling you how to feel. They will play slow, sad songs as someone dies, or fast upbeat songs when the hero wins. A poem tells a story, and a good poem can bring out emotions in the reader. But a poem set to music, a song, brings together the best of both worlds. That is what I feel music is about, finding songs that tell stories conveying the feelings that I cannot find ways to express in my own words. A lot of music does not try to do this, and admittedly so, but the music out there that really touches people, the bands that are really remembered, this is what they do.
For me, the most influential songs come from the Beatles. Of course there are newer bands that I listen to more, but when I really want to feel something I put on the Beatles.. Like all bands, they have silly songs like “Why Don’t We Do It in the Road”, but songs like “Rocky Raccoon” and “Yellow Submarine” tell a meaningful story in an amusing way that really speaks to me. Bands like the Beatles or the Stones spoke to a whole generation, and are still as relevant now as they were when they first sang their songs. This type of music is what I believe people should be looking for and listening to, to really be affected and understand themselves better through the music.
Now, with the advent of the internet, it is easier than ever for people to find the music that speaks directly to them, to hear the words they cannot themselves find to explain who they are and what they are feeling. They are now able to find the music that defines them as a person, put it on their iPod, and walk down the street playing the soundtrack of their lives.
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