This may sound cliche, but I truly cannot imagine life without music. Growing up, my weekends were stacked with standing on the sidelines of bars and open mic nights while watching my dad’s cover band fill the crowds. My mom would tell me stories of being her brother’s hair band groupie, travelling the east coast and exchanging setlists with headliners like Foreigner. When I was feeling out of place or at ease, I’d hop in the backseat of my dad’s car and we’d drive down the shore, blasting the best of the 70s. Things seem to change in the blink of an eye in my life, but somehow, music has always stayed a constant.
I was in fourth grade when I got my first instrument. My brother had been going to guitar lessons, and I wanted to do everything he did when I was younger. I took on playing keyboard, however, under my dad’s guidance. He started playing the accordion at age three, moved to the guitar, trumpet, keyboard, saxophone and bass guitar, so it seemed like nobody was more fit than he to try to teach me the basics. I was stubborn, and a perfectionist, and often felt defeated, but my dad never stopped trying. Even when I put the keyboard to rest for a period of my life, he still cheered me on when I’d sit down and play the sequence of four chords that I never forgot. Over the last year, as I’ve started to find myself residing with an acoustic guitar that I bought used from the music store where my dad is on a first name basis with the owner, he has pushed me to explore on my own. He has the same understanding of music and its parallel with personal journey.
From sixth to eleventh grade, I lost myself. I didn’t know what exactly I wanted out of anything, or who I wanted to find within myself. My hobbies shifted, my friends flowed in and out, but again, music never failed to find its way back to me. Although my first concert was technically Hall and Oates in a local theater in elementary school, I considered this time frame to be when I began to find therapy in live music. From small general admission shows in small city venues to sold out stadium events, I found that those handful hours spent scream singing along to my favorite artists are some of the most rewarding ones. I went on a frenzy during this time, going to every show I could get my hands on. It covered up the broken pieces to that time in my life, and when I reflect back, I’m able to think about those times more vividly than the ones I’ve tucked away.
Music is an art that has no restrictions. It can easily be seen as one of the most vulnerable ways of expressing oneself, from the lyrics to the rawness of the instrumentals. No matter the language perceived in lyrics, instrumentals continue to set the mood of the story being told. Nonnative speakers are able to brace the heartache or dance around to the same composition that the natives can, bringing all together despite barriers that often cause miscommunication. For me personally, music dictates how I radiate.
I can’t put into words the feeling that listening to a song that perfectly aligns with something going on in your heart instills in a person, but it is one of the most powerful forces. Music acts as a validation for everything that I ever experience, from love and lust to confusion and resistance. It is the therapy that is always available, in every setting, at any time. It is the friend that I can call at 3AM when I’m left laying in bed with a racing mind. It is what fills every silent moment in my life, and turns it into something worth cherishing.
So, thank you music, for everything.