‘Musical Maxisms’ Column: Why do we love music?

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I am an addict. My drug gives me a high that lasts about three minutes, and it makes me numb to any terrible thing going on in my life at that time. There’s no rehab for my addiction, no treatment I can seek. And the best part? It’s totally legal.

Max Rosenbaum

Max Rosenbaum

“We got into radio because we can talk about music like some talk about wine, can talk about the subtle differences between artists within the same genre,” said my friend Michael Procida, ’16. “Music is a drug that crashes over the soul like no other drug, giving you a cheap, two-minute-long escape from all your problems in life, and for those two minutes you feel infinite and invincible. It wasn’t until now I could verbalize what music feels like.”

Procida wrote this in a discussion about the WLVR executive board and why we’re so drawn to the station, and it was that segment that came to my mind when I was spitballing ideas for my final column this semester. Then it became clear to me — I want to delve into why we love music so much.

Speaking for myself, I am utterly addicted to music in the same way junkies are addicted to their drug of choice. I need to be listening to music as I do work, as I drive in my car — even for the minute drive from my house to my boyfriend’s house — and as I take showers. Silence is deafening to me at this point because I am in that deep. There is no going back anymore.

Music is my medication for heartbreak and disappointment. It is my 8 a.m. commute to class. It often feels like the oxygen that I breathe that is keeping me alive. Does that sound melodramatic? Absolutely, but that’s the only way to adequately describe how much I need music, in a way others can understand.

I form connections with others 90 percent of the time from commonality in music taste. No, not even commonality — although that helps. Even if you love, say, popular country, my least favorite genre, but you are super passionate about it — I can talk to you about it for hours on end. Whereas others make bonds contemplating who’s going to win the next political election, which football team is their favorite and which television show is the best on the air right now, I always ask for your favorite band when I meet someone. It’s my gateway to friendship.

Let’s set the scene: it was about 6 a.m. a couple Sundays ago. The sky looked like some concoction in which cotton candy mixed with an oil spill that scatter over Oz’s yellow brick road. Delirious and sleep deprived, my boyfriend and I were walking back up the Hill after pulling an all-nighter. Maybe it was because I hadn’t slept or maybe because Lehigh’s location on the side of a mountain wasn’t too kind to me, but I had to stop walking midway up to take a breather.

So Jake and I paused to appreciate the view and took a seat on the stairs. I was playing music from my iPhone, and at the moment we sat down, “Me and Julio Down By The Schoolyard” by Paul Simon came on. It felt like a scene right out of the end of a film. The combination of the beauty and the music came together to construct the closest I’ve ever felt to deliberate perfection.

But enough about me, I want to know why others love music too. Music has such a profound impact on those who adore it, even those who are only casual listeners of Fetty Wap. It makes us dance, laugh, cry, sing — it makes us feel. So I asked others what their opinions, and here’s what they said about what they like about music:

  • “(I like) its capacity to make you feel things. It can emotionally resonate with you and put you into different moods.” — Collin Messics, ’18.
  • “It makes us feel emotions that you normally couldn’t access normally. Like Adele with “Hello,” who knew I had that many feelings?” — Helen Chamley, ’18.
  • “It is fire.” — John Leigh, ’18.
  • “I love music because it evokes a unique emotion and experience for each listener. Also, it puts voices in a very interesting spot where not only do they receive added depth from pitch, but they can also contribute in new ways as their own instrument.” — Daniel Soskey, ’17.
  • “’Cause music motivates me when I’m lazy, chills me out when I’m stressed, pushes me at the gym, influences me and always makes me wanna dance — and I really like dancing” — Jason Pollack, ’18.
  • “Many reasons but I think the biggest one is because songs are like little time capsules for me. If I listen to something at a certain time in my life, those songs capture those memories and when i listen to them in later times, I get to relive them.” — Simona Galant, ’18.
  • “I love being able to look at rappers flows and lyrics and seeing them change over the years. I love listening to the production and seeing what types of songs are on each album, whether they’re turn up songs or low key songs.” — Jake Jasinski, ’18,
  • “Because it inspires my imagination and creativity, and I feel it gives me somewhat of a purpose.” — Rob Weaver, ’18.

Music is the universal consolidator. It heals people and helps us express feelings we’re incapable of putting into words on our own. It pulls us from dark depths when we look up and cannot see a peak of light. It is, in my honest opinion, one of the greatest things in this whole wide word.

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