When I discover a great song, my first instinct is to show it to my friends. Music is like a box of Timbits: half the fun is in sharing it with others.
When we appreciate music with another human being, we amplify its effects. Think about all the fun you’ve had making the perfect road trip playlist with your friends, or exchanging cheesy love songs with your crush.
The best kind of social glue
At its very core, listening to music is a social activity. Whether it’s “American Pie” around the campfire or “Single Ladies” blasting on the dancefloor, music is the glue that holds crowds together. It encourages us to build human connections by helping us practice empathy, share our values, and relate to others.
As a songwriter myself, I consider the ultimate goal of music to be communication. Regardless of whether a piece of music has lyrics or not, it always comes out of the musician’s desire to express their emotions while influencing those of their listeners. In a way, listening to music sets up an imaginary but deeply personal connection between the composer and the listener.
Music can create a deeply personal connection between composer and listener.
Have you ever been so fascinated by a song that you went on genius.com to find an interpretation of the lyrics? You probably wanted to understand what was going through the artist’s head when they wrote the song. Or have you ever walked by a street performer and wondered what their story was? If so, you know how powerful music is: it makes us strive to understand the mind of another person, which is the foundation of empathy.
Personally, I believe that you can tell a lot about someone from their music tastes. Take a moment to consider the message or theme of your favourite song. The kind of music that resonates with us is often the kind that touches on our greatest desires and aspirations. It paints a picture of the things that we want out of life - whether it’s true love, enlightenment, fame or peace.
Have you ever felt that immediate spark of connection upon discovering that a classmate or coworker likes the same music as you? Maybe this feeling comes from our intuition that beyond just liking the same songs, the other person might also share our values and ideals.
On a larger scale, think of national anthems: every country has a piece of music that reflects its history, principles, and traditions. During international events, people from all over the world listen to these anthems together to show respect for each other’s cultures. This kind of music helps us tear down barriers and expand our connections.
Ultimately, music helps us remember that we are not alone. The most impactful songs are the ones that we can all relate to. For example, take “Yesterday,” by Paul McCartney. There’s a reason why it’s the most covered song of all time: the lyrics are just specific enough to feel incredibly personal, but also general enough so almost anyone can imagine themself as the protagonist of the song.
By listening to sad music like this when we feel down, we are reminded that there are others in the world who have gone through similar experiences as us. This simple reminder can help us reconnect with the people around us, and forget our sadness for a while.
The next time you listen to music, try to reflect on the positive impact it’s had on your social life and the role it plays in maintaining your relationships. These days, we often get stuck in our own personalized playlists.
My advice is to embrace the social side of music: attend a concert, create a playlist with your friends, ask your parents about music from their youth, or maybe even pick up an instrument and join a band. You will end up creating a lot of wonderful memories and meaningful connections.