An Open Letter to Music

Dear Music,

A few weeks ago, I realized how vital you are to my life. When I’m sitting alone on my bathroom floor trying to drown out my roommate’s insane television watching habit, the only comfort I have is music. You empathize with me while creating a bubble to gently console me.

You seem to always understand how I’m feeling. Every song takes on a different shade of emotion according to how I’m feeling at that moment. A sad song can make me smile, and a happy song can make me feel a moment of fleeting sadness. Sometimes a really outstanding song has the power to give me goosebumps.

I’ll listen to sad songs as a form of catharsis: Your sound will wordlessly explain my emotions to me through melody, while the sensible lyrics act as my guidance counselor. The vulnerability I experience from listening to a sad song is refreshing. Elton John and Bernie Taupin really nail how emotional songs make me feel with “Sad Songs (Say So Much).”

I think about all the ways you influence my life. I won’t start the car until I have a good song playing. I’ll listen to classical when I need to study. I’ll listen to The Weeknd’s “Can’t Feel My Face” when I’m getting ready to go out. I’ll listen to The Strokes to energize me throughout my workout. Songs play through my head as I stumble through life, as if you were playing in the background like in a movie.

I can’t imagine movies without deep, fascinating scores or soundtracks. Star Wars without John Williams? Tarzan without Phil Collins? You are the invisible actor on any screen. Often I find people can instantly hum a movie’s theme song, but get stuck trying to tell me who the main actor is. Without you in the background, movies would lose half their attraction. People are so accustomed to some tune matching the scene, that when you are not there, our focus snaps to attention. The stark contrast in sounds makes it known that a pivotal scene is taking place.

You keep me company wherever I go. On a bus, at the gym, while taking a test, walking down the street or in my car when I need five minutes to collect myself before coming home to my own personal hell. You are my best friend. You never laugh at me, and you definitely never need any explanations. You don’t need to hear excuses from me when I’m listening to a guilty pleasure like “Love is an Open Door” from the Frozen soundtrack. You’re okay with me listening to “Midnight Cry” by J. Roddy Walston & The Business five times in a row. You don’t laugh at me when I sing in the shower or make fun of me when I cry listening to Ed Sheeran’s “Thinking Out Loud.” You encourage me and make me think I’m actually hitting the high notes in “Somebody to Love” by Queen.

I’d go so far as to say you are the most important aspect of the human condition. As much as I love puppies and elephants, they’ll never write a masterpiece like “Stairway to Heaven.” We shouldn’t underestimate your power. We have you to stick together to express our emotions. We even judge people based which variations they prefer. It’s likely that most of my friends like the same music as me. We love when our shuffle is on point, and we get frustrated when it’s not. Our ancestors sat around fires and created you under the stars. There are songs that strike a chord within our hearts and can fill us with pain or sorrow; they can uplift us better than any drug. The greatest songs come from the heart, from past experiences, from pain, and every time we listen to a song we take our share of the burden.

Thank you for always being there for me. Thank you for always understanding my emotions, for keeping me company on long drives, for being the unsung hero of a movie. Thank you for never laughing at my choices, for soothing me when I need help sleeping, and for comforting me when I’m feeling down and lonely. I’m indebted to your existence.

With much love,

Nicolle Buchbinder

P.S. There is some extremely cool science behind music. Check this out.

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