Everyone loves music, including me. We often come across instances of music helping people to cope with emotional turmoil. I know a story of a nurse who was relieved from anxiety after she sang a gospel just moments before she was moved into the surgery room.
But among the many masterpieces, there are some whose experience can’t quite be paralleled by anything else. High Hopes, the legendary Pink Floyd song, is one such masterpiece. We all know about their artistic prowess, but this one song just fills us with nostalgia, with a slight hint of sadness, when you realise what the words really mean. It just draws us into a lost land of sprawling meadows and the sounds of the laughter of loved ones. One might even feel a disconnect from reality and stay there, for a while.
And who doesn’t know about Wonderful World by Louis Armstrong, or King of the Road by Roger Miller? Songs such as these drive us to think how people in the toughest of times could still continue to sing like that. How could someone who had witnessed apartheid still marvel at the wonderful creation, or how could a vagabond sing as though he had just eaten a sumptuous meal? Worth a thought, isn’t it?
Those who play computer games might know Mafia: The City of Lost Heavens. It was phenomenal for its time, despite the glitches and graphics. But it isn’t until you read about Django Reinhardt that you would truly be astounded by how he fought his injuries to become the legend that he is. It sure makes us wonder how he must have motivated himself, what kept his passion alive, how he managed to look at himself and say: ‘This is not the end.’ This is such a story of victory, not just success, and it just baffles the mind to think how someone who had lost two fingers in a fire could leave for us such ageless masterpieces as Coucou and Vendredi.
Look at Vincent (by Don McLean), Fix You (by Coldplay), and Be Yourself (by Audioslave). They seem to chart a full spectrum, from the portrait of a man mistreated by people, through the encouragement of a friend, to the fact that we all need to stay ourselves, because we matter, in our own unique ways. In some ways, Be Yourself offers us strength.
And there are many others, like Dreamer, Imagine, Hobo’s Lullaby, and Society. They move us in different ways, but there always remains a common takeaway: Music certainly holds an unimaginable potential to touch or change lives. If it can drive one person to think, then it can certainly bring about a positive change en masse. But, are there other things as potent? Where else can we find inspiration, a simple song or a great story of triumph?
In the end, change is still just a choice. If we can create music that heals, perhaps we can also create happiness, within us, in our mind.
Abhijit Chakraborty is a senior content editor at upGrad, a digital education organisation in India. He is also a mental health advocate.