The Music Feels

Do you ever have moments of not being able to express yourself fully through talking alone and end up doing it through music? I get that kind of feeling a lot.

For instance, several nights ago I was feeling particularly agitated over some things at work. I recognized the futility of worrying because there was literally nothing I could do about it until the next day. I still could not shake off that feeling of unease, though. I wanted to find a way to let go of the negative emotions, but I didn’t want to talk about it because 1.) I didn’t want to trouble my mom with it (or anyone for that matter) and 2.) she wouldn’t understand it anyway because it was quite technical.

Soon I found myself opening my iTunes library and scanning through the titles, trying to find a song that would mirror how I felt. I wasn’t looking for anything upbeat, of course, nor was I going for a ballad either because it was too slow. I was agitated. I was nervous. I was frustrated, irritated and annoyed. But I knew I was accountable for it, so I was sad and disappointed as well. My eyes continued scanning until I came across a song that I knew was perfect for the moment. I hit play and Scott Weiland’s voice filled my ears as the lyrics of Plush by Stone Temple Pilots filtered through my thoughts. The grit, the guitar and the drums were in sync with my angst, and instead of aggravating it, I felt the tension from my shoulders slightly disappear and my furrowed eyebrows relax.

This was not the first time I turned to music. Like many, music has always managed to induce some form of catharsis when I needed it. Sure, it may be brief, but it’s better than constant restlessness or worry. And it doesn’t have to be literal all the time – I barely know what the lyrics of Plush mean, but something about the way it was sung and how the instruments came together made it feel relatable at that specific moment. Or sometimes it’s the memory that’s associated with a particular song or genre. Listening to 90s and early 2000s R&B songs reminds me of a time when life was less complicated, when the biggest problem I had was how to keep myself awake to study without ingesting caffeine, or how not to embarrass myself in the next acting workshop. Oh, yes, those were good times that I’m always reminded of when I hear those songs. They never fail to pick me up no matter how stressful the situation.

More often than not, though, the lyrics are what grab me. I can no longer count the times I’ve put on Mumford & Sons or The Killers or Sugarfree (among so many others) because no one I knew understood how I felt, and yet somehow, these total strangers knew exactly how to phrase my feelings! And if that wasn’t enough, they’ve managed to add melodies that hit the damn spot. It truly is an awe-inspiring phenomenon for me. How they are able to do so, I might never know, but I will be eternally grateful to the miracle that is music – of its ability to heal, soothe, understand, sympathize, encourage, transcend – because otherwise, I don’t know what would have become of me emotionally.