Otis Redding said “Don’t mess with Cupid”. I took that message to heart while lying on shag carpet with big, brown Koss headphones on and was suddenly wary of that girl I liked across my fifth grade classroom. Maybe I even carried that message into my adult life and kept a distance from those who might damage my heart. When I get low or distant in a relationship today, Otis’ gripping voice reminds me in my head of the dangers of love and how desperate lament was in my adult future. Maybe he gives me permission in a way to be mournful of how hard it is and that we all experience frustration in life and love and can bemoan that together.
Music is important in freeing emotion and pain and we humans need that.
Music also has a way of teaching us as we listen. We may not even notice the lessons we are assimilating from the artists that bring us so much pleasure and release. I will often notice how a song just feels tied to an emotion or event from my past or just some recent memory with a chorus ringing through. For instance, Taylor Swift’s 2011 hit “Mean” (an artist I rarely take notice of) reminds me of driving through the winding roads outside Nashville when I first heard it, moved by the bridge. And Run DMC’s 1987 classic “Christmas in Hollis” (also only think of this around Christmas, obviously) reminds me of Corey (Cayerio) and Robin Sanders, dear friends and their sweet (big) babies in Homewood, Florida. Then, a long line of early 80’s metal songs that remind me of my teenage bedroom learning riffs from vinyl records.
More than singular moments, music transforms our perceptions of the world and helps us identify emotional outlets and ideas and flow into the world of those artists a little bit to share the human touch with someone outside ourselves. With our world so isolated and verbally hostile, I recommend some Otis therapy for everyone.
Music is important.