I believe that music is our savior. Sure, there are different religions that say we’ll be saved by a messiah, but what’s that accomplished? War? Violence? Hatred? Music, on the other hand, evokes peace and harmony. I’ve been a musician for eight years, so I know that music is a universal language all to itself. Music is composed of notes and each note describes something different. There are short notes, long notes, and notes in between– like people. But when all of these distinctive notes are blended together they create one song that flows seamlessly– like humanity itself.
That’s not to say everyone in the world listens to the same music. I went to Spain on a trip with my school to learn more about the Spanish language and culture. As part of the experience, we stayed with host families that could only speak Spanish and were expected to attend classes every day at the local high school. One of the events the tour company scheduled for us was a meeting with students from the school. The Spanish students could only speak in English, and we could only speak in Spanish. After the salutations, the conversations shifted into an awkward stage. Even though we all had an abundance of memorized phrases stored in our brains, the words seemed meaningless. We didn’t care where the bathroom was and we weren’t interested in how to say the word “folder.” The situation soon became a disaster. Finally, with coaching from our teachers, we began to talk about music. Slowly, the ice began to melt as we discovered that we had heard of the same bands. Then someone advised, “Show them a dance.” One by one we separated, the Spaniards on one side, the Americans on another. The natives started out first with a clap, which turned into a rhythm, which then turned into flamenco. And slowly, but surely, we started to catch on to the beat. Imagine that– a group of teenagers who barely knew each other all unified by one sound. Then it was our turn. “Five, six, seven, eight! If it hadn’t been for Cotton-Eye Joe/ I’d been married long time ago/ where did you come from where did you go/ where did you come from Cotton-Eye Joe?” The sound of the Cotton-Eye Joe rang through the air and we were dancing away. Just like we had moments before, the Spaniards soon caught on and began dancing with us, too. We enjoyed ourselves and became united, despite our different views on religion and politics, because that’s the power of music!
Whether it’s a Beatle’s #1 hit, a Beethoven movement, a cultural dance, or a made up song in the shower, music is music. Music has the energy to pump a party or mend a broken heart. It has the ability to inspire and bring comfort to those who are lost. It even has the power to unite complete strangers. If a simple song can do what it did for all of us teenagers that day, then it can help save a world in turmoil. And this, I believe.
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.