A few months ago, I found myself in incredibly deep thought about music and the effect it has on our emotions. Deep thoughts as I sit alone are not overly unnatural to me, but these were different, these sent me on a time warp dating back to 2005.
The beginning of these thoughts occurred as I sat in a DeAngelo’s Sandwich Shop and I heard this song that was insatiably catchy, but it was playing so lightly on the speakers that I was struggling to hear it. All I could hear was a female voice gliding from word to word, yet the only words I could truly make out were “Girls,” “Chase,” and “Boys.” I pulled out my phone, and hoping to get lucky, I typed “song with the lyrics girls chase boys.”
Like fireworks, the song, its remixes and other suggested songs by artist Ingrid Michaelson appeared across my phone. From then on, I began to download more and more of her music. It accompanied my girlfriend and I on trips across New England, and even when I was alone doing dishes, cleaning, or doing simply anything that required background noise, I could always count on Michaelson’s music. And since then whenever I feel a little lost or stressed. Michaelson’s music takes back to those soothing car rides with her music playing to calm me down.
Upon having these thoughts about Michaelson, I started to think that this instance could not just be a coincidence, that music finds its way into our lives for a purpose. I began to recount some of my favorite artists and when I happened upon them first and how each second of their music brought me to a place I needed to be.
Throughout high school all I desired was to go to school in Massachusetts and to have a change of pace from Texas. Knowing that you wanted to live in a different city or state four years before it could become a practical reality can make time go by pretty slow.
In December of my junior year, I stumbled upon a band from Los Angeles that had made radio waves for their hit “Pumped Up Kicks.” I had never heard that specific song, but happened upon another, and later on in the month I found myself in a Best Buy purchasing the debut album of Foster the People entitled Torches.
The album only had 10 songs over the course of 39 minutes, but every time I listened to it, it sent me into this near-trances, and I would just visualize myself living in the city I love, Boston.
There is not a single reference of Boston in a Foster the People song, but it is where I was in life that caused that album to have such an impact on me. To this day, whenever I hear the choral opening to the tenth song of the album “Warrant,” I am just dropped in Boston walking alone on a snowy day, taking in the sights that I had been visualizing for so long.
And lastly is the British virtual band Gorillaz. From roughly 2005 until I stumbled upon Foster the People in late 2011, Gorillaz was the only thing I listened to, and that is hardly an exaggeration. I first found them in the fifth grade, when their hit single “Feel Good Inc.” was shown on commercials for the compilation album “Now That’s What I Call Music! 19.” I listened to the song over and over and kept talking about them in my fifth grade class every day even though I only knew them for one song.
That is, until a classmate of mine burned the entire album Demon Days for me since her dad had it sitting around the house. From then on out, I was sold. Each and every one of their albums was released or I stumbled upon at just the right time in life. I got Demon Days from my classmate just days before finding out I would be moving to a different school, and it was that 50 minutes of music that got me through that winter of saying goodbye to old friends and trying to make new ones. Each subsequent album had a way of finding its way to me right when I needed it, and it is that music that takes me to a different place, my safe haven.
I could continue to go from artist to artist telling you all the ways they found their way into my life at the right time and how they take me where I need to be when I hear their music, but frankly it would be unnecessary. The fact of the matter is that we all have our Ingrid Michaleson’s, Foster the People’s and Gorillaz’. And that’s just music.
Music hits us in so many different ways, but it hits us for a reason. There is a rationale behind why each song and artist means so much to us, and that’s simply because music is our escape. It is tailored to us. It is one of the things in life that we can turn elect to turn away if we don’t care for it, and embrace if we love it.
It requires deep thought to truly recount why we love each artist, but it is worth it, as it’ll take you on a trip, and believe me it is worth it.