Music is the closest thing that we’ll ever have to magic.
I know that sounds absurd. I also know that it sounds a bit silly and… well, unconventional. I mean, I have been involved with music in one way or another for the past twenty-six years and I have never heard anyone call it that. I’ve heard people say it was great, or uplifting, or powerful, or symbolic. I’ve heard people say it was trash, or garbage, or depressing, or complete shit, but I’ve never once heard someone say that music was magic.
…and maybe that’s not the best word to describe it, but it’s the first one that comes to mind.
It’s not magic because I anticipate it to pull a rabbit out of a hat. It’s not magic because I expect it to saw a woman in half and put her back together again, and it’s not magic because it’s going to point a wand at something and raise it, shouting “Leviosa”. No, it’s magic because of the effect that it can have on people, or the affect, I suppose.
Both are suitable.
It’s magic because it can take everything that has ever happened to you, everything that is happening to you and minimize it, or amplify it, or both of those things all at once. What do I mean by that? I mean, you’re not the first person to feel heartbreak. You’re not the first person to feel alone, or alive. You’re not the first person to feel anything and I’m not suggesting that it’s not important, because it is. It is important that you feel that way. Even if every other person in the world has already felt that way fifteen times over again, it’s important that you feel that way too. It’s important because one way or another, it’s important to feel. It’s important because it shapes who we are and how we see the world.
It shapes our perspective and that’s part of what is so magical about music. It’s magical because it’s universal. It’s something we can all hear. It’s something that we can all feel and it does this thing, where it infects us with raw emotion and sometimes it just minimizes it. Sometimes it takes that feeling and it lets us know that we’re not alone. It gives us comfort. It gives us relief, and puts our mind at ease, but not always. No, sometimes it does the opposite. Sometimes it infects. It takes that feeling and just makes it so intense, so overwhelming that we can hardly bear it. Sometimes it literally breaks us down.
…and that’s magic.
Now think about your favorite artists, your favorite bands and musicians, and think about everything that they are. Think back to the first album that made an impression on you. Think about the first time that you listened to it, and think about the song that made the biggest impact on you. What made that happen? Was it the meaning? Was it the guitar or the piano? Was it just the melody of the chorus? What was it? What changed you?
I can’t tell you how many times that I’ve gone back to listen to an older album and discovered and rediscovered music. It’s not that I hadn’t heard it before. It’s not that I didn’t know the words, or the riffs. It’s not that I didn’t know every note that the singer was going to belt out, because I did. I knew everything about every song on that album, but that’s not what changes. Recordings don’t change. We do and that’s what makes the difference.
It goes back to perspective.
It goes back to experience and understanding. It goes back to just… getting it. I can’t tell you how many times that I’ve gone back and found a new favorite song on an album. I can’t tell you how many times that I’ve gone back to a song and rediscovered what the lyrics meant. I can’t tell you how many times that I’ve gone back and just found a new understanding. I can’t tell you because it happens every day. It happens every time that I go back.
…and that’s magic.
It’s magic because it is just sound. It is vibrations in the air, yet it affects the way that we act. It affects the way that we think and feel, and it can unite people a million miles apart. It helps us define who we are now and it helps us remember who we were. How many times have you listened to an older album and remembered instantly, where you were the first time that you listened to it? Or who you were with? Or what you were doing? How many times have you listened to it and remembered what was happening in your life at that time?
Again, I can’t tell you how many times because it happens every day. To me, to you, to everyone. It happens every time that we listen to music and it brings back memories. It floods us with nostalgia, with angst and frustration. It reminds us of the things that made us happy, the things that made us sad, and every minor mood in between. It takes us somewhere else, some…when else.
And in that moment, we travel through space and time.
…and that’s magic.