30 Minutes Outside Philly: Music that brings us to tears


Sarah Steffans

I have always loved music. I have always loved to listen to music. I have always loved to make music. I have always loved to react to music: dancing, sitting in silence, smiling, crying. What we do not realize is the emotional capacity music carries and the kind of resting potential it holds to change our lives.

If you do not know what I mean, you must have never gotten the chills from a song. You have never resonated with any lyrics, beat, rhythm, instrumental or singing. And you have never, ever, been interested enough in music for it to be the centerpiece of your life. But I have.

Everything I do, I do because music has driven me there. While I love to run to music, cook to music, write to music and fold laundry to music, I also love to listen to music: That’s all. What an amazing thing it is — to not only hear — but to listen, and to feel.

Writing, for me, is like creating lyrics to the song of my life. There have been verses, there have been pre-choruses, there have been choruses, there have been bridges and there have been crescendos, decrescendos, staccatos and key changes. I have lived in both major and minor chords. I have traveled through peaks and valleys, and, at some point, I will reach the end of the song. Hopefully, there is closure when that day comes, and the tensions in the chords are resolved. 

I have no interest in “making it” in the music industry, or even being apart of the music industry — I know I don’t have it in me to be famous. There are plenty of us who feel the same. To me, that’s the beauty of music: It brings people together. Take, for instance, a concert. Perhaps a quarter of the crowd could be considered “good” singers who perhaps really want to pursue a career in the industry — very cool. The rest of them? They’re simply there because something about those musicians awoke something in them — very cool.

For me, it’s been Maggie Rogers’ Alaska (acoustic) that breaks me down recently. Rogers cuts deep into wounds I didn’t even know I had anymore: “And I walked off you. And I walked off an old me.” Or, how about, “Cut my hair so I could rock back and forth without thinking of you?” In this sense, Rogers uses her music to share a personal story that so easily resonates with so many of us. Empathy persists.

We are so lucky to live in such a world where talent is recognized so widely. Live in the way of a song for a day. Maybe it’ll change your life.

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1 Comment

  1. Sarah: Thought I’d share my favorite female artists, in case you want to expand your horizons: Sarah Shook, Amanda Anne Platt (Honeycutters), Zoe Muth, Eilen Jewell, Neko Case (New Pornographers). All a bit twangy, but seem right up your alley… Charles

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