Music: A Best Friend For Life
We all have a best friend. (If not, it may be that we are so socially handicapped that it is impossible for us to make one—in which case there is a 50% chance that we will probably be convicted of first degree murder...ok, maybe not something as bad as murder, but you get my point.)
Our best friends are commonly our best friends because we find that we can tell them anything, they get us, and they see what we are going through.
This is all very true whether your best friend is a high school friend or your mom...because she’s the only one that will accept you. I'd venture to say that your true best friend is not who you’d think. Your best friend is not Jerry from kindergarten. Your best friend is not Mother (shoutout to all Buster Bluth fans!)
I think our best friend is an element of life which we often overlook because it is in our lives constantly. We need it so much that it has become ingrained in us. We cannot live without it.
Without realizing it, this friend does three key things for us: it heals us, it speaks to us, and it understands us so well that it even speaks for us.
This element of life is music—music, which continues to be the best friend of every person upon this planet.
Bob Marley said, “One good thing about music, when it hits you, you feel no pain.”
From the beginning of time, every culture has had music—a naked man beating on a couple of drums or our current country music (although to be honest I’ll take the man beating on the drums). Either way, music has been there to support us.
Music heals us.
According to the University Hospital of Cleveland, music has been used for healing for centuries. It did not start as an actual profession until after the world wars, when they noticed that it relieved pain perception for the veterans. Listening to music had a huge effect on the veterans’ psychological, physiological, cognitive, and emotional states. It worked so well that years later the National Association for Music Therapy (NAMT) was created. To illustrate my point further, let me share a story about a girl named Emma.
Years ago, around 2004, there was a girl named Emma who lived in Massachusetts, who had gone through traumatic events. Her mother was beaten by her father; she was also abused by her father, and finally, after her mother abandoned her, she had had enough and ran away to her grandmother. After the abuse, her grandma took her to a therapist. He talked to the girl, but the more he spoke, the more she closed up and hid her feelings. He gave her pills, but it only made the situation worse. No efforts of friends, family members, or even of the therapist seemed to do any good. Finally, the therapist sat her down one day and played music. Within seconds, the girl broke down in tears and opened herself up to him completely. She progressed and soon she was able to return to a normal life. No more pills, no more therapy sessions. Music had saved her. (Read more about Emma’s story here.)
Music speaks to us.
Music is art, and like all art, it tells us something through its melody and lyrics; it represents something. Music does not just reflect the artist who wrote the song. A person’s favorite song often reflects some of their own characteristics, whether it be anger, hate, rebellion, love or indifference. The song speaks to them and they understand, because they themselves emote the same feeling.
Professor Nicole Miller of Wheaton College, in her article The Science of Why Music Speaks, asks the question, “Why do we listen to more people telling us stories and giving us advice through headphones than we would when in company with friends?”
So, Miller did some more research. She did a test on someone listening to music called “functional brain imaging”. It turns out that we connect more to music than to human beings because when we listen to music, we use our whole brain, whereas when we talk to someone, we only use a part of it.
Music speaks to us and we understand it because it is a universal language whether it is through its lyrics or simply through the melody. Music speaks to us like a friend almost in a telepathic way, and we listen and take it in.
Music understands us.
Now, friends understand us but not fully. There is always something we hold back, or something we try to explain again and again with no luck so we just move on. However, music understands us fully.
Music touches the soul more intimately than any other art. It opens us up completely and lets our guard down. Music speaks for us.
Have you ever had a bad day and you’re tired, mad, or even sad? You run up to your room, put your headphones on, lay on your bed, and just listen to music. Whether you cry or not doesn’t matter. We do this for a reason, and that reason is that we know no one else will be able to understand us.
We go to a world where we don’t have to speak; we don’t have to talk about how we feel or what is going on around us. That one song says it all for us. It opens our heart, our mind, and our soul; all we must do is listen.
It’s also reassuring to know someone understands and a sad song is someone understanding. You find you are not alone. And there is nothing more important in times of sadness than to know you are not alone, that someone shares your pain and in turn and wants to help you through it. (The Amazing—and Unexpected—Ways Music Speaks to All of Us, by Vince Raison)
Everybody has that one song, and they need that.
How essential, how important is a best friend? Think about it. Think of who your best friend is, then imagine tomorrow that person is gone, that you will never see them again. This person, with whom you have shared many memories, vanishes before your eyes.
Now think about how many times you turn on the radio or put your headphones on and listen to music.
How many times has music helped you when you were feeling terrible?
How many times has music told you a story, or brought back memories, which you will never forget?
How many times has music brought you back to reality, or told you how you really feel?
How many times has music even brought you back to God in a sense?
I am sure it’s countless.
Now imagine that tomorrow you wake up and music no longer exists in your life….
“Life without music would be a mistake.” (Neitzsche)