When Music Says What We Can’t

So many times, I forget what I want to say in a moment. And then a song will come on and remind me not only of what I wanted to say but it says it better than I ever could. The lyrics and melodies resonate with me because they speak of the same things that I’m going through at that moment. But isn’t that the way it generally goes?. Even when we try to clear everything out, it’s hard to listen. Sometimes it gets even more challenging to listen to our thoughts. Especially if we are going through a bad breakup or if there are issues with that other person that you might not even be in a relationship but you still love that person. Sometimes the words to music say everything when we can’t think of a single thing to say.

When I was on a plane to Spain, my heart was confused and conflicted. I fell for a man I couldn’t even talk to because I would forget my name or anything else. And the words that came through on the speaker for the plane hit home hard. Kelly Clarkson’s “Breakaway” came on at that moment. And when the lyrics hit the nail on the head, the first thing I thought about was, “I’ll spread my wings, and I’ll learn how to fly. I’ll do what it takes till I touch the skies. Take a risk, take a chance, make a change and break away.” Boy, did that sum up the situation perfectly. I was flying miles over the ocean, yet my heart remained in North Carolina. But I knew I had to pick up the pieces because if I didn’t figure out ways to keep going, it was going to do me in the long term.

When we are highly competitive, many songs are out there that keep us motivated. It’s almost too many to name. When athletes use music to perform, it’s always interesting to see how they match their routines to the piece. But sometimes, the chorus and the lyrics say more than just what the athletes are doing. They express beautifully with their bodies the movements that the music provides. Interestingly, figure skaters often will use the music to showcase their skills on the ice and that the words in the music mean things to the performer and the audience.

Music is the one thing that gives so many of us a sense of pure emotion. If we’re going through heartbreak, there are plenty of heartbreak songs out there to choose from. If we’re celebrating our love with somebody, there are all kinds of romantic ballads and songs different things out there to express how we feel to our loved ones. When we go through grief and trials and tribulations, various entertainers show us what emotions people experience. The one thing music doesn’t do is solve problems. But it does give us a sense of expression when words fail. And sometimes, the music itself tells a story better than any set of words ever could imagine.

My friend Alex, before he died, was writing a dissertation on how music therapy was the universal language. He wrote about how the music seemed to help people with Dementia and Alzheimers. When certain songs played, many of the folks he studied that were suffering from these diseases remembered the words and melodies when they couldn’t remember their families. It struck him as fascinating how they came back to reality for a small moment in time and made him question what it was about music that resonates with people better than our words? To him, it was little wonder why so many people love music. It’s because it strikes a chord with our memories and gives our bodies a slight movement, whereas words may touch us, but they don’t make our hearts always come alive and want to dance as music does. Music is as much a part of our souls as breathing is because we are music. You don’t have to be a performer to allow music of some type into your life. All you have to do is be open to new sounds.

It’s Monday, and so many of us struggle to make Monday fun. But if you can, I hope you can listen to some music while you work, or on your way to work or home. Give yourself a little time to let the music play. The rhythm and groove will speak to you in ways that words won’t always convey, but the peace or energy it provides is worth volumes. Have a great day, everyone.

4 thoughts on “When Music Says What We Can’t

  1. I was always in awe when I visited my 90+aunt in the nursing home. She knew I was a “ friend” but couldn’t remember my name or relationship, but she would sing One Day at a Time with me and remembered the words. When they had singing entertainment she would sing right along, never missing a word. Warm memories. B.


  2. I can definitely attest to music helping people with dementia. As you know by now my dad has it, and I can remember sometime last year turning on my Sirius XM app on Yacht Rock Radio for him to hear the music that I remember him playing and loving through out the years, and when certain songs came on, his face lit up, and I asked him if he remembers that song and he said yes and then told me it made his heart hurt because he’s remembering his ex-wife who he loved dearly! I was shocked that he remembered all that. Because I do remember them relaxing on evenings listening to those songs. It’s true, music is a universal language.


  3. I thought about you when I wrote this Fay. I swear, it seems like I know too many people facing Dementia and Alzheimer’s. I wish your dad didn’t struggle with Dementia but I know that you are cherishing every second you have with him. Keep playing the music. It helps more than you know. 🙂


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