Sunday, 2 April 2017

The Power of Music

Do you ever do that thing of intending to watch just one YouTube video, then before you know it, it's two hours later and you've been clicking on so many links in the "recommended" section after each video you've watched, that you're not entirely sure you remember what you went on there to look at in the first place?!

That's what happened to me, last night.

It started off as a simple desire to watch Prince perform Purple Rain, after seeing someone mention the song on Twitter.  It's up there amongst my all-time favourite songs, so I decided to head to YouTube to indulge my love of it.  Amongst the recommended videos afterwards, was Guns n Roses' November Rain, another favourite of mine, so I watched that, next.  And, sure enough, in the recommended videos alongside that, there was another song I wanted to watch the video for.  And so on and so forth, until it was well past the time I had planned to be all tucked up in bed.

Pictured: Me, last night, when I should have been asleep...

One of the things I love about music is how you can get completely lost in it.  I wasn't bothered about going to sleep.  All I wanted to do was let the melodies surround me and enjoy the sensation that each song provided within me.  

Music is so powerfully personal, too.  A song that means nothing to one person, could be the song that reminds someone else of the happiest - or worst - time of their life.  Music can bring us back to moments we'd long forgotten.  Our memories have their own soundtrack and that's an amazing thing.

Last night, whilst I was on my journey from song to song, scanning the recommended videos after each one I watched and picking the one I liked best, I wasn't expecting so many memories to come flooding back.  But that's exactly what happened.

Some of them were funny memories.  For example, when I watched the video for Take That's How Deep Is Your Love, I found myself giggling over the fact that my sister used to say that the slightly odd instrumental sound just before the final chorus sounded like "a drunk owl."

Some of them were bittersweet memories.  Design For Life by the Manics just made me think of all the times I've seen them play that song live, nearly always with my gig buddy - and one of my closest friends - by my side.  She's chosen not to be in my life, anymore, as a result of a fallout I had with someone else, so the memories of she and I, arms aloft, singing our hearts out together, was tinged with an awful lot of sadness.

But then I clicked on a song in the recommended videos section, purely because I hadn't listened to it in years and I remembered loving it when I was younger.  And that was the moment that I realised that music doesn't just soundtrack our memories.  Sometimes, it envelopes them so tightly that we don't even know we have those specific memories, until we hear the song, again.

This was the song in question.

Don't Dream It's Over by Crowded House was, as far as I was concerned, just as pretty song I used to like when I was around 12 or 13.  But, as I pressed "play," I realised that it held within its melody, memories I had buried deep within my psyche.

Instantly, as the song began to play, I was transported back to the bus I used to take to secondary school.

Now, regular readers of this blog will probably already be aware that when I started secondary school, I went from being a bright, bubbly girl who enjoyed attention, to being a very withdrawn, depressed kid, with no confidence.  That is entirely down to the fact that I experienced horrendous bullying on that school bus.  Day in, day out.

I had completely forgotten the association that particular song had with that particular time.  But, as I listened to the music and sang along with the lyrics, it all came rushing back.

That was the song that I would frequently play on the bus, turned up loud so that my headphones drowned out as much of the name-calling as possible.  I would stare out of the window and listen to those words: "Hey now, hey now.  Don't dream it's over... You know they won't win."

I clung to those words.  I was going through a painful time, in which I was convinced that all the good times in my life were over.  My enjoyment of life, my confidence in myself, my belief in the good in people... All of it had been eroded by the daily Hell the bullies on the bus so loved to put me through.  But I wanted to believe that it would get better.  And so, those lyrics were a lifeline.  My life wasn't over.  And I wouldn't let them win.

Hearing that song again and reliving all of those memories was incredibly powerful.  It stunned me that I could have forgotten just why the song meant so much to me all those years ago, but I suppose that some memories are just too painful to fixate on.  

But, once the floodgates had been opened, I realised just how many memories I have that are intrinsically linked to the music I was listening to at the time.  For example, I can't hear Don't Look Back In Anger by Oasis, without remembering myself as a kid of 13, bouncing around the living room, shrieking with joy, because the song was being played at number 2 in the charts and I knew that meant that my beloved Take That's final single before their split, had gone in straight at number one.

Music is more than just a pleasant sound in the background.  It can be what sets a mood.  It can speak to us on a deeply personal, emotional level.  And, as I discovered last night, it can be the key to memories we thought were locked away, forever.

So, whatever type of music it is that floats your boat, indulge in it.  Shamelessly.  Music has extraordinary power.  Life without it is unimaginable.


  1. I agree music can take us down memory lane, and it can also make us escape reality for a bit. I personally listen to it on my iPod and sometimes I'm in the mood for shuffle or I want to listen to specific songs. Mostly what's on there is heavy metal, with rock and a touch of pop...even video game score music. I'm glad to hear that song helped you thrive during the tough times.

  2. Yeah, music definitely provides amazing escapism! Video game scores can be really cool, as well. :D


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