I am a musician. This means that I have spent a decent chunk of my life dedicated to learning the function, impact, history, theory, and purpose behind music and music-making. Though I may not be as "good" or experienced as some of my close friends and fellow music-makers, I can definitely still come to the table and have a meaningful, thoughtful discussion of music. I see music, as I see all forms of art, as yet another way in which to tell a story. This storytelling is rhythmic and dynamic, can be very "simple," or complex. It can be written with a key idea in mind or no idea at all. That is one of the beauties of art... there are no wrong answers (at least, in my opinion), and that is especially true with music. (Jazz! Hello!)
We all have our favorite song(s) — the ones that make us laugh, cry, and everything in between — that accompany us in our lives. Perhaps we simply find the tune "catchy." Perhaps we find that we bear a strong emotional connection to a song for some reason or another. Whatever the connection that particular song, or songs, become part of your unique life-experience. They become a part of you.
BUT... have you ever really taken the time to listen to the song?
I know many people who listen to music for a good part of the day, almost every single day. They essentially have a soundtrack to their own day-to-day journeys, which I think is fantastic... but I often wonder, have they ever actually stopped and thought about what the song means? Have they ever taken the time to really listen to the words and think about what the songwriter was saying? Or have they ever taken the time to sit down and only focus on the music of their favorite pop song, or composition? Or ever thought about the type of response they have, or what feelings they experience when the instruments start to swell into a beautiful harmony? And... have they ever asked why they may feel that way?
Why do tears roll when the Titanic theme plays? Why do folks become obsessed with the hook to their favorite song on the radio? Why does a crowd get SO pumped when the bass is about to drop? Just... why?
I love listening to music to "simply listen," but I often wonder if people realize what they are missing when they do not listen deeply, actively and, critically to the music on their playlists. Do they realize how beautiful the song truly is? Do they grasp the message that the writer was trying to spread? Can they make a connection between the song and what is happening in the world today, or even their own lives? It is also my opinion that art has the potential, in all its forms, to change the world. Even just a little bit. But it cannot do this unless it is listened to. And I mean ACTUALLY listened to.
So, pause from reading this... and shift your focus from the words you are reading on this screen, to the music you're undoubtedly playing through your headphones right now. Focus on JUST the song, and answer these questions: What is this song? Who is it by? Why am I listening to it? What is it about? Now, what is it REALLY about? And finally, how does it make me feel, and why?
Sit with this for a bit. You might make some interesting discoveries…
(In case you have not noticed, there are a lot of questions in this article... there is a reason for that. Ask them! About everything! That is all.)