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The Magic of Music


So few people today actually sculpt or paint or put ink to parchment in fine calligraphy. It seems like relatively few people own ballet shoes, play an instrument, or write poetry. If art is not part of our career or a longtime hobby, we can almost forget about it. Yet our soul yearns for it. Have you recently looked at a bright orange sunset and felt a pull in your chest? Or heard an old song that strums you right back in time? Or read a paragraph in a book that was so stunningly fine you had to read it again, and fold the corner of the page? Or watched a scene in a film, acted with such precision and perfection, that you forgot it was a movie, and realized you were holding your breath?

That feeling is the same as the rumbling of a hungry stomach, except it’s your spirit that’s starving.

I know there is a part of me that only art can access. I remember being in a terrible place at a certain time in my life when I was miserable, withered and shaky. I tried everything: therapy, friends, running, more running, wine, more wine — you name it. Nothing, not sweat nor tears, could drain the ache residing in the pit of me. That was until a dear artist friend suggested I borrow some time in her studio. I put a paintbrush in my hand and a large canvas on the easel — and set myself free. I painted for hours, angry lashes of red and depths of brooding blue. I didn’t notice the passage of time or the tears on my face, because at long last, I was finally letting go. A clot broke free and it was like circulation to my soul was restored.

This is what I mean about art. We were created to long for beauty. We were created to create. We were created to pause and enjoy, and tend to the place inside us that requires tending.

“Music defines us by eras, yet simultaneously frees us from time and age. It takes us back and it carries us forward, and yet it helps us root more deeply in the present.”

Music is one of the most accessible forms of art available to us today. It’s in our car, our homes, our workplaces, our computers, our phones, and available live all over our musical city. We have certain music we like to run with. Music we like to play as we pour a glass of wine, chop vegetables and start cooking. Music for dinner parties. Music by the fire. Make-out music. Pool party tunes. Travel playlists for headphones on the airplane. Road trip music. Get psyched or get focused or get calm before big event music. Getting dressed to go out music. Need to fall asleep music. Need to remember my youth music. Need to remember someone I love music.

Music is art because it is a creative medium that causes us to transcend. It opens our hearts and minds, it liberates stored memories, and it connects us to ourselves and to others. It defines us by eras, yet simultaneously frees us from time and age. It takes us back and it carries us forward, and yet it helps us root more deeply in the present.

We need music. If you have taken it for granted or forgotten your favorites, return to it like a lost love. Dust off your old turntable and cherished albums, there is nothing like the soothing hum of needle scratch. Make the playlist or command Pandora to blend one to match your mood. Turn it up loud in the car and sing like no one is listening. Rock out in the shower. Dance around your kitchen. Spice up your workout or your sex life. Chill out on a rainy afternoon. Stop saying you are going to go see live music, and actually go see live music. Find your art, and your rhythm, again.

Read more from the Music + Film Issue | March 2016