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The Sound of Love

Apologies for the lack of posts these last couple of weeks.  Next week I’ll be back in full force.  If you missed my Valentine’s Day guest post over at Three Four Letter Words, here it is:

The assignment seems deceptively simple: Write about something you love. But that isn’t the real assignment.  The assignment is in actuality: Write about something you love and don’t suck, because this is someone else’s blog you’re posting on, missy.

So I have to admit off the bat, I’m feeling a little intimated.  But here it goes:
I love music.  I LOVE music. Music has been an integral part of my life for nearly forty years. I’ve sung in choirs, choruses and glee clubs. I’ve been in rock bands and folk groups. My high school years were marked by which musical I was rehearsing. I attend concerts and music festivals alone if I don’t have anyone to go with me. I’ve played, with uneven success, piano and guitar. I write music although not as much as I want. I go to a church 40 miles away because their music is THAT much better.

Music has the ability to immediately change my emotional state.  I can feel apathetic, angry or depressed and the right song pulls me up out of the fog and points me back in the right direction. I have a theme song (and you should too!). One study shows that music activates the same pleasure centers in the brain as sex does.  If that isn’t a reason to listen to music everyday then I don’t know what is.

In middle school I called radio stations with fingers poised over the “record” button on my boom box hoping the DJ wouldn’t talk over the intro to my favorite song. I’ve practiced my guitar until blisters prevented me from holding onto the strings. I’ve traveled huge distances and willingly gave up large amounts of sleep to spend a few precious hours with my favorite bands. I’ve used music to get through countless late-night college assignments. I’ve sung to my newborn daughters in the middle of the night every song I knew just to get them to sleep. I’ve sped down country roads on late summer nights with the windows down and the radio up. I’ve cried over breakups not only because my heart was broken but because I also lost a man who could make a kick-ass mix tape.

Most of us have stories when music saved our lives.  Musicians put into words what our hearts yearn to express whether it is love, despair, or anything in between. Music can make friends of enemies by providing a launching point of common ground. It can take people who’ve never met before and turn them into life-long companions. Music doesn’t care if you are rich or poor, how you dress, or about the color of your skin. Music doesn’t tell you whom to love or what religion to practice. Music is unconditional.  It touches your soul and expects nothing in return.

So today I celebrate my love for music.  As journalist Eric Olson once wrote, “Music is what life sounds like.”

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Peter MacNicol played a lawyer, John Cage, on the television show Ally McBeal.  In a show filled with odd and interesting characters, John stuck out. He wasn’t particularly handsome, he wasn’t tall, he wasn’t even that well-spoken. Truthfully he was socially awkward and tremendously quirky.  But when he needed to succeed, whether it was in the courtroom or in life, he had an incredibly powerful and energy-shifting tool:

He had a theme song.

Not just any song by any singer by the way.  He had Barry White. And when John listened to that song he became powerful and brave and lived with gusto instead of shrinking at the challenges life threw at him. Barry White connected John Cage to his true self.

A theme song resonates with your soul.  When you hear it, your body cries out YES! You feel powerful, optimistic, ready to tackle new challenges. Theme songs push you further than you think you can go. Remember Rocky? His theme song had him jumping in victory on the top steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Theme songs focus your energy on the task at hand. I guarantee every time we see Michael Phelps plugged into his iPod just before he steps on the starting block, he is listening to his theme song.

A theme song draws out an immediate visceral reaction. At the very least it should make you smile. Maybe it makes you Cha Cha, or pump your fists in the air or play air guitar.  One client of mine conducted an imaginary orchestra as he listened to the 1812 Overture, complete with real cannon explosions, every time he sat down to look for a new job. That’s what I am talking about.

Use your theme song liberally.  Play it whenever you need a lift or a little motivation to create some momentum.  Listen to it before you go and ask for that raise, before you run your morning three miles in the rain, before you begin painting that massive canvas.  I use my theme song as often as possible. You’d be surprised how many times I get caught dancing around the kitchen rocking out as I clean up dinner dishes.

Everybody needs a theme song. What’s yours?

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