Most of life’s joy comes from love and connection, and most pain comes from love lost. In this, all of us are alike, and songs are a universal language that connects our hearts. Songs do matter, they’re important, and there’s nothing else nothing quite like them. They are our mother tongue. I was recently asked to write about why songs matter. I immediately think of Woody Guthrie’s guitar, with the saying, “This Machine Kills Fascists” hand-written on it. Woody believed singing truth to power is ultimately more persuasive than violence.
I also think about the soldiers I work with in the songwriting workshops, how writing a song about their war experience lifts a heavy weight off of their hearts. At the deepest level, songs can change lives. They help us heal. We can grab a song and say YES! LOOK! This is how I feel. Songs are human emotion dressed in melody and story. Songs express our hopes and dreams, our concerns, our playfulness, and they help us voice our values, anger, and frustrations.
Songs sing our truths, highlight our shared experiences, and help articulate the full range of human feelings. Songs can give us the hope we need, and the faith we are lacking when we are struggling. Songs see us, and we see ourselves in them. They don’t require an education to understand, they transcend language, race, age, sexual preference, nationality and religion, and they are timeless. When we feel a song deeply, we claim it as our own and can play it hundreds of times.
Songs can also be conduits for compassion and empathy, a road map into a stranger’s heart, which upon inspection - mirrors our own heart. Songs help us know each other and they also can plug us into the spiritual and sacred realm of faith, hope, compassion, mercy, charity, forgiveness and humility. Through the alchemy of song, even sad songs create the feeling of connection because we are reassured that we are not alone. Songs are what feelings sound like.
Why do songs matter to you?
"Without music, life would be a mistake." - Friedrich Nietzsche