“One good thing about music, when it hits you, you feel no pain.” ~Bob Marley
Music speaks to our hearts like nothing else.
Music is emotionally evocative.
We are moved by it, compelled by it and connected to it. Music is all about emotions, feelings and memories. A certain song takes us back to an extraordinary time in our life and gives a voice to our feelings. It captures how we experienced the world then, and how we feel about it now. It’s naturally introspective.
Music is a way to feel.
As most people do, I love music. Sometimes, I like my music soulful and soft and other times I like it angry and loud. Sometimes, I need it to remind me of someone and other times I need it to forget someone. Sometimes, I want to listen to something new and other times I listen to the same song over and over again. There is a song for every mood and a mood for every song. That’s why most of us have playlists for about every situation and emotion in life.
If I want to feel Cody’s presence, I put on the playlist I created in his memory. If I stay open to it, he becomes present for me in the music. It’s one of my favorite ways to connect with him and him with me. It allows me to be in the world with him and without him at the same time.
I love the photo of him pretending to do his homework in high school with his headphones on – seems like he was always wearing a yellow shirt.
From bubble gum pop by The Monkees (Daydream Believer) to rock music by Green Day (I used to call it his ADD music) to angry rap music by Eminem, he had a wide range of taste in music, as I do. I can’t hear “Superman (It’s Not Easy)” without being flooded with memories of Cody Joe shooting baskets in our driveway at the Candlelight Valley house.
He gave me a list of his favorite bands in high school for his scrapbook. Little did I know how thankful I would be I asked for them.
I have to be strong in my grief process before I listen to his playlist. I need to be deeply connected to myself and ready for powerful emotions. If I am connected, I can find my voice and accept the truth about who I am without him. This is where I find my words to write – music is a big part of my writing process. I could not write without it. I always try to write from my heart and I have to feel to do that.
Song lyrics are infatuating and thought provoking. There is enduring truth in music, as in any form of art. Rap music opened my eyes in terms of conformity and social norms. Its rawness offers answers, if only we embrace its lessons and are open to it, no matter our age.
Music is meant to move us in some way.
Given the emotionally charged nature of music, how can I not listen to and love Creedence Clearwater Revival without thinking of Cody’s father, back in the days when we were young, happy and free from our broken hearts? He used to sing to me in his truck and knew all of the words by heart. Romantic carpool karaoke before its time.
How can I not listen to and love a song named “Toes” with lyrics “toes in the water, ass in the sand” without wanting to go to the beach and put my ass in the sand. I love how country music tells a simple story for every occasion.
How can I not listen to and love the Journey song “Don’t Stop Believing” without thinking of the final episode of the Sopranos? It’s been my ringtone ever since.
What does all of this have to do with addiction? Everything.
Studies show that listening to a favorite song floods the brain with dopamine. Sound familiar? We can get high off music – it’s like a drug. Music speaks to us when words can’t. It allows us to be vulnerable, feel and cope with negative emotions. If we want to play angry music and scream, it’s a healthy release and the same is true if we want to play sad music and cry. It’s a universal experience because it’s from the heart.
I read the lyrics to Dylan’s song “Forever Young” at Cody’s burial service in Telluride in the fall of 2013. It was one of the most profound moments I have ever experienced in my life – to be outside in that breathtaking mountain cemetery – saying goodbye to my son with a song.
It’s why I wrote this blog. Music is a way to feel and to heal.
Mary Cucarola – May 1, 2017