What is it about a song that can cause such a tumultuous uprising of emotions? I find myself more and more moved by music as I get older and wonder if it is because of my own connotations affiliated with particular lyrics or merely because I identify with the music in general. Whatever the case, I am affected and often find my mood changing colour as one song bleeds into the next. There is a reason for this, in the same way there is a reason to create music, a connection from the sound to our souls which can not be severed.
Music has been an outlet and an escape from the pain that sometimes constitutes life for many a year,one of the most obvious instances of this being the negro spiritual music of the slaves of America. These haunting melodies began as a secret code of communication between the slaves, as they endeavored to salvage a life for themselves in the animal-like captivity where privacy was considered a revered luxury. The tunes spoke of freedom, messages of hope and devotion to an adopted religion. The richness of both voice and lyrics is often overpoweringly beautiful, bittersweet and heartbreaking in equal turn. A rollicking, rhythmic movement flowing synonymously with the physical exertion it accompanied. It is plain that this form of expression was more than mere communication between the slaves, it allowed for something wondrous to grow in amongst the oppression, a bud pushing up through the fetid mulch of a white man's twisted dream. It is thus not hard to see why this soulful music can bring forth such a plethora of feelings, inducing tears to the most cold-hearted among us.
Is it then the idea of hope that music seems to carry, of something precious and lovely between the grit and grime that squeezes at our heart? This is definitely the case in some instances, where empathetic feelings grow as we listen to someone else's journey depicted in a song. What about the punk music of the middle to late 70's though? When music became an expression of angst and anger at the hierarchical systems in place at the time? How relevant was the idea of hope in this music really, where safety-pinned youth screamed obscene scrawls of lyrics at frothing, malevolent crowds. It would seem that the idea of hope was abandoned for the more seductive act of rebellion. Then again The Clash's "London Calling" bears a definitive note of change and advancement, Joe Strummer's strong voice sends shivers of apprehension and one can feel the turning point London was facing at the time through his words.
So whilst music is a very subjective and personal thing, there are without a doubt some songs which we all identify with. Johnny Cash's "Hurt" is one which most people feel a certain affiliation with. I feel this could be due to the fact that every human who has walked this earth has made a mistake somewhere along the road, and Cash successfully expresses the hopeless despair we face when we have failed. Bob Dylan's rendition of "Blowing in the wind" is another one I find particularly expressive and emotionally stirring. The war affiliation is always going to be a strong subject to portray and even though I was not around during this era I find it an expressively and beautiful song which easily evokes one's emotions.
There are many of them though, these songs which cause us to stop and ponder, reminisce and wonder. To lose ourselves to a sound, the tangible threads of someones thoughts, woven into a melody. Some other well-known, emotive songs would be: Gary Jules's rendition of Mad world, Pink Floyd's Wish you were here, Simon and Garfunkel's Sounds of silence, Louis Armstrong's What a wonderful world, The Beatles -Let it be and Yesterday and John Lennon's Imagine.
So I find myself with no conclusion, no set template to write a song to coax emotion from its cave. It seems that it may just be a combination of many ingredients: empathy, affiliation, love, awe, knowledge of subject matter or just pure enjoyment and synchronicity with a particular song. Whatever the case may be, music is something which can always bring forth a reaction, whether it be for a revolution, a smile, an exhibition or a tear. Music is so much more than just a sound to be enjoyed, it is a testament to who we are as human beings, an expression of what we have achieved and ultimately what we feel.