I once had a song that burrowed into my soul the moment it came on. You know those melodies that echo through the bones and lyrics that penetrate the heart, as though it was written for you? I have several songs that obtain such power, but this one in particular came on the other day and, in an instant, created an epiphany moment that’s been hard to reverse.
It was a love song, and at the risk of any judgements (admit it or not, we all judge each other by the type of music we listen to) I’ll refrain from disclosing its title. Yet, by the end, all its magic had vanished. Suddenly it was just another song on the radio. But why? I eagerly went to my Spotify playlist to pull it up and play it again. After the first verse it all made sense. I scrolled to other songs I once enjoyed as much and experienced the same feeling, or lack thereof. Eventually, I had to stop playing the music because I didn’t want to ruin everything. So many of the lyrics had similar meaning and it was a message I no longer agreed with.
In the past I’d ache for a man to need me because, in the past, I thought I needed a man. I picked men who shared that ideal, who’d lean on me the same way I yearned to lean on them. I didn’t realize that my taste in music paralleled this notion. Songs about being lost, feeling broken, and the only way these feelings of inadequacy would change is when two people completed each other populated my play list. Happiness, in the lyrics I was singing, was about couples who needed the other to feel right.
It was all wrong.
While I always second-guess writing about the romantic relationships of my life (no ring, no guarantee), my current boyfriend is the antithesis of the lyrics I once sang. Then again, so is the person I am today. He stands on his own, has a full life, and gives no indication that he needs to be fixed. As for me, I’ve turned any past struggle into strength and found unshakable happiness within myself. We are ourselves but we’ve become “extra bonuses” together. I attribute this dynamic directly to my unexpected distaste in the specific song I used to think so fondly about. The epiphany moment came about through the microcosm of a relationship but it opened a door to a much larger realization.
If “I think, therefore I am,” would Descartes agree with “I hear, therefore I am”? Music has the undeniable power to transform our emotions, otherwise music directors in Hollywood would be without a job and I wouldn’t be listening to cinematic background music as I write this column. But are we what we listen to? Do the lyrics of our lives dictate our actions and our state of mind?
Beyond love songs, my taste in music has evolved to words of empowerment and adventure. As I continue to grow as an individual, my soundtrack has changed, the message has changed. The people I associate with, my career path, my mental health, my physical health, they’re all positive. Could I have rewritten my own score? I certainly can’t pinpoint what changed first, my taste in music or my attitude. And although it might not be scientific proof, I’m willing to hear this one out.