28 December 2009


"What came first, the music or the misery? People worry about kids playing with guns, or watching violent videos, that some sort of culture of violence will take them over. Nobody worries about kids listening to thousands, literally thousands of songs about heartbreak, rejection, pain, misery and loss. Did I listen to pop music because I was miserable? Or was I miserable because I listened to pop music?"
-Rob Gordon, High Fidelity

This is not going to be as depressing as the above quote sounds. I was just doing some thinking this morning while I was at the gym about the influence that music has on us. There I was, iPod stuck in my ears and I was running. Now, that may not sound so profound to most of you, but the thing is, I don't run. Not ever. Like, when the Army recruiter called me in High School I told him my personal motto was, "Don't run unless you have to." Strangely enough, he never called me again.

So what does this have to do with Rob's quote? Well, you see, I went into the gym all frustrated and upset and down and really, just very, very unsettled. Then I put in my earbuds (how strange is that term?) pumped the volume up loud and let my body rip. The music coursed through my head, made my feet pick up the pace and my hands do a little dance. I found that I could run the entire length of a song. Then another. Then another. I started to like running. Whatever worries or troubles I came in with; well, if felt as though the reverberating in my head and the pounding of my feet were slowly working them out of my body. One could argue that it was the running that made me feel better, not the music. The thing is, I would never have run, or kept running if the music hadn't been there in the first place.

So does music really bring pain, like Rob's quote surmises? Or do you listen to music because you're in pain. Maybe. Probably. Really, it's likely both. In my case I think it has more of an opposite effect. Music brings me happiness, or at least can put a little jolly in my step. When I'm happy I like to listen to something that I can groove to, that matches my mood. That's not to say that when I'm feeling down in the dumps I don't like a little Nick Drake or Tom Waites. I just normally turn on the radio or the iPod when I'm already feeling happy. So I think that Rob might be on to something. Music has such a powerful way of influencing us. Toward happy or sad. Songs, like scents, have the ability to bring us to other times/places. Make us feel things we thought we had forgotten. Push us into something new. I like that power that music has on us. Especially this time of year when I see the sun for less than ten hours a day and the snow is up to LN's shoulders.

Tomorrow I'll add a list of my favorite mood-busting, run inducing, make me want to groove songs. The songs that make the other patrons at the gym wonder who that weird girl is running and bopping her head on the treadmill. What can I say? When the mood strikes, dance!

1 comment:

  1. I think it all depends on the day. The right song can change a mood, but it can also enhance it. Brian has a playlist on the IPod called "running" and they are all great songs to excercise to.



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