The Healing Power of Rock ‘n’ Roll
28 years ago, the rock music of Cheap Trick intertwined with my soul, and believe it or not, recently helped heal my emotional childhood wounds.
As a 6-foot-tall, awkward, female adolescent with 2-inch-high self-esteem, Trick’s teenage anthem “Surrender” reflected the internal angst we all face about giving our power away. But it was the intoxicating bass riffs of songs like “Ballad of T.V. Violence” that instilled a sense of fearlessness in my self-deprecating pubescent mind. The intense vibrations of the drum and bass guitar actually calcified my spine, and generated the strength to face any challenge.
When mom launched a torpedo that dad was dying of pancreatic cancer, Cheap Trick’s sonic force field helped shield my heart as I helplessly watched my father wither away. He never discussed his illness or impending death, nor did I ever possess enough courage to look into his pain-filled eyes and utter, “I love you, and will miss you daddy.” He died without either of us saying good-bye, and for nearly three decades, I remained totally unaware how our lack of communication left my psyche hanging, begging for completion.
Over the years, a compulsion to see Cheap Trick in concert grew more acute. However, whenever any band member made eye contact from the stage, strange feelings shot out of me like a howitzer canon and I’d instantly avert my gaze. Though numerous fans have met the band, a bizarre fear they’d never want to meet or talk to me kept rock girl at a distance, so asking for an autograph was unthinkable.
Last year, the band themselves illuminated the source of these atypical feelings. They released a single entitled “Perfect Stranger,” and surges of anxiety and guilt swelled whenever I heard the song. For months I wondered, “Why does this tune impact me so profoundly?” The answer came in an intuitive flash: Dad and I were “perfect strangers.” The lyrics mirrored aspects of our relationship, and like a humongous backhoe, dug up painful feelings locked within my subconscious mind surrounding dad’s death.
Finally, my uncomfortable feelings around Cheap Trick made perfect sense. “Perfect Stranger” let me see how I transferred unresolved psychological issues with dad onto the band. I couldn’t look him in the eye and share my feelings, nor could I look the band in the eye or request an autograph because in the recesses of my neo-cortex, they symbolically represented my emotionally distant dad.
It was time for my psyche to become whole again. With the help of a good therapist, I made amends with the soul of my father, and told him all the things I wanted to say, but never did. Cheap Trick’s music shielded my heart when it most needed protection, and years later, helped bring my teenage trauma to light. Who’d ever think a fan could gain a sense of resolution, forgiveness and healing from a rock band and their music? Strange but true. I’m a believer. How ‘bout you?
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