The Healing Power of Music

Dinesh Kamarajan

There are various ways to judge a song. You can rate it on a 10 point scale, analyze notes and composition, or read into the lyrics until until you’ve found all the references and secret meanings that only the hardcore fans know. All valid ways to quantify and categorize songs, as humans tend to do with most things.

But that’s not why we listen to music in the first place.

Music is about emotion. Like all good art, good music should punch you in the face and drag you from whatever apathetic reality you were so concerned with. Like when a J.Cole song makes you suddenly blurt out laughing from the simple absurdity of his lyrics. For one second you forgot everything. The fear, the worry, the panic, and for one silly moment you laughed at the fact that he finally got a new ad-lib.

Depression is hard to describe. It’s so different for everybody, and people rarely wear it around as some kind of badge. But we can all agree that everyone feels pain. There is the pain that happens, and then it’s over — like stubbing your toe or eating too much sketchy mexican food.

Then there exists a kind of pain that hurts so bad you could never tell anybody about it. You can barely admit it to yourself, but it exists, and it’s always there. Sometimes it fades away, but sometimes it comes back the hardest just when you least expect it.

Your mind is no longer a respite from the world, because your own mind is more confusing and painful than the real world could ever be. You can take pills for regular pain or an upset stomach, but what do you do when you feel sad, angry, and at the same time, completely empty?

You find happiness in simple pleasures. You watch the way the sun hits the ground as the leaves flutter around the sidewalk. You were on time for to class for the first time all week — heck yeah! Someone said they like your shirt. Now you’re wearing that shirt three days out of the week. And you listen to music.

So many things happen when you listen to a song. The melody hits you. Then the enrapturing voice. Then the words. It doesn’t matter what they are talking about, it’s the way you hear it. The song might not even have words, but speaks to you because they can transmit sadness, happiness, or even anger all by themselves.

Music communicates. It skips talking completely and goes straight to the good stuff. You can’t listen to “Not Afraid” without feeling his anger, his uncontrollable rage against everything. You can’t listen to an Adele song without joining her struggle, her very own pain.

All that emotion is reflected in yourself. Then you start to understand that you aren’t alone. Pain exists and sadness exists. But so does happiness, and laughter.

Have you ever listened to a song that makes you want to get up and move? Just get up and yell or do something? Then do it. Don’t worry about looking stupid because in that moment, you can experience joy without any restraint, without any worry. The purest form of happiness can be achieved with nothing more than a Selena Gomez song and the willingness to utterly give in to the music.

Suddenly you’re not so empty, not so helpless, because you felt something. Something that filled you up and made you a little less sad, a little less scared.

Sometimes things can seem so hopeless. Like it’s impossible to see a future where everything doesn’t suck. But remember that there is happiness out there, There are things so beautiful, so perfect, that all the terrible things don’t even come close.

You’re in control, so next time laugh out loud when you hear a funny line in a song.  Sing along when Smash Mouth comes on, even if you only know like the first verse.

Lose yourself in the music, and don’t look back.