Today’s post is a long one. Because it is about music! Music is an art whose medium is sound and silence; rhythm, rhyme, melody and soul. Music is escape. Music is release. Music is a cover. Music is a glimpse of reality. Music is a story; your story, my story, a reflection of words that I may be unable to say. Music is depth, vulnerability, rawness, and emotions embedded in art, sounds and lyrics. Music is power. Music is a movement. Music is a unifying factor. Music is fame and fortune. Music is knowing.
What does music mean to you?
There is a unifying force behind music. Adelle’s Hello was not exactly a major, back to back hit just because. I feel like it told a story that struck a remembering cord in a lot of people. Who hasn’t had their share of longing after an ex-boy/girlfriend and wishing things would go back to the way they used to be.
Me and music, we go way back! Lock me in with a tight playlist and headphones and some books and I couldn’t care less what was going on outside. I grew up listening to daddy’s Abba and Bonney M and the Jacksons, Bob Marley, and Westlife and I loved them. The stories they told, the artists, the melodies in my ear. I fell deeper in love with music when I discovered the kind of music I loved listening to and why I did so.
When I listen to a song, I listen to the music arrangement; where the violins come in, how it blends the sounds together and adds an ethereal, magical sound to a piece of music. I listen to the rhythm of the keyboard, the rhyme and melody that usually still accompanies a song wholly without any other sounds. I listen to the beat of the drums. The voice of the artist, the story in the song, the words, their meanings, and sometimes how they mirror my own life or tell a story is that resonates deeply with me. When I listen to a song, I listen to the way the emotions are conveyed, sometimes in ways that I didn’t know were possible; I listen till I can tell the pain, or the joy or the longing or the love or affection or hope or fun in the song.
When I think of reminiscing about places – people in my past, memories of the people in places I have been, moving ahead and generally letting life take its course, I think of Daughtry’s September or Tim McGraw and Gwyneth Paltrow’s Me and Tennessee; Taylor Swift’s Back To December, Mat Kearney’s Fire and Rain, Lana Del Ray’s Young and Beautiful and of course, Adelle’s Hello.
When I think about just causes, I think of John Legend and Common’s Glory about black emancipation and equal rights. I remember our own Ego’s I Believe in the wake of the Boko Haram massacres in Northern Nigeria. I remember classic Twista’s Hope about the ‘hood and the all the trials of growing up in a crime filled black neighbourhood, terrorism and political injustice in general; I think of Mali Music’s I Believe as well, in celebration of faith and hope in God and trust in the practicality of it all in the kind of world we live in.
Music has been used to celebrate people and feminity and masculinity and the innocence of childhood. From TY Bello’s So Beautiful in praise of motherhood to Ed Sheeran’s Afire Love in praise of sustaining and unfailing love of family in old age and amnesia and death; Maxwell’s A Woman’s Work and all time legend, Celine Dione’s Mama. The list is endless.
There are those other ones that are filled with a lot of encouraging words that I like to listen to and just think about how they apply to life. I heard this song in a movie, The Boy Choir. It was the closing sound track and stuck like a glue. Josh Groban’s The Mystery of Your Gift simply speaks to your soul in so many ways and stirs up the zeal to find and use your gifts and talents. At least that’s what it does to me. There’s Estelle’s Conqueror, John Legend and Pink’s Don’t Give Up, originally done by Peter Gabriel, The Scripts’ Flares and Boyce Avenue’s Dare To Believe to name a few off my playlist.
When I think about songs that speak to my spirit and extol the name of the Most High in uncommon and yet simple ways; of surrender and total trust and reliance, I think William McDowell’s My Heart Sings, Lifehouse’s Everything, Chris Quiala’s Dance With Me, Deitrick Haddon’s Have Your Way, Aaron Barnhart’s The Water’s Edge, Phil Wickham’s This Is The Day, and Benjamin Dube’s Bow Down and Worship Him. And of course, the list is endless.
If you have hopes and dreams of finding love in 2016 as I discussed in my last post here, you should listen to the Daughtry’s Start of Something Good; I fell in love with the song from the first line. It exudes so much hope and faith that love will come, and it will be worth the wait and hurts of the past.
Then there are songs of vulnerability like Labrinth’s Beneath You’re Beautiful and Daughtry’s Baptized or Life After You or the all-time love-struck all boy band, Westlife’s I Wanna Grow Old With You. If you ever loved love songs and needed something for any phase of relationships there ever was – uncertainty, love-struck, fear, breakups, marriage, promises to be a better lover, anything at all, Westlife was it! I wonder what happened to them after the 90s’?
Maybe you prefer some Yanni or Frank Sinatra perhaps? I think jazz is a little more of the core of music; the instruments and harmonies that create music, without the distraction of an artist’s lyrics or his backup singers’ ad libs. Or reggae, metallic rock, some rap?
There is also our Nigerian dancehall genre that sometimes have not much to say but provide considerable levels of beats and rhythm that is very danceable and fused with a lot of playful fooling around that is needed at social gatherings where people have come to let their hairs down. However, as someone who likes to listen to songs that make some sense on some level, we have tons of Nigerian music that does that too. I think of Bez’s Stupid Song that perfectly reminisces childhood games that a large percentage of us grew up playing and definitely identify with. I think of Flavour’s Golibe and Ada Ada that have become signature traditional wedding ceremony anthems. He keeps ‘em coming, by the way; I think he makes sure he has a new release yearly that eventually becomes a traditional wedding ant hem of the year. I think of Timi Dakolo’s Great Nation – a song of immense hope and faith in the future in store for our country. I recently have been listening to Capital FEMI’s I Found My Wife; lovely song, just like Praiz’s I Love You. I bet you didn’t know Gabriel Afoloyan sang as well? You should download and listen to Kokoro Ife Mi; a love song in both his dialect and English about hopes for love and a growing spark in him for the subject of his affections. Lovely song as well.
My playlist is a really long one, I know. I believe music tells the kind of person someone is at least to some extent, because it is an integral part of our lives; it’s who we are, where we lose ourselves in most times. Researches have shown that you can tell a person’s personality by the kinds of music they love and listen to. Music is a medium where two souls or hearts can unite in understanding and even more. Music is life and friendship. Music is knowing, awareness and vulnerability. Music is healing. Music is a life. Music is a gift.
What does music mean to you? What draws you to a piece of music? What qualities of a song makes it appreciable to you, something worthy of your playlist? The rhythm, the storyline, the lyrics and their meanings, the artist, the quality of music or the arrangement and emotions it evokes? Have you made connections with people just because they liked your kind of music? Do you feel like you could really get to know someone by their playlist?
Here is a little music challenge copied from the movie, Begin Again, starring Keira Knightley and Mark Ruffalo;
Find someone you want to connect with on a deeper level, plug in your earphones and go through their playlist – together, at the same time. Music is very spiritual; it has the power to bring people together – Edgar Winter.
Love, The Quiet One