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January 5, 2013

Josh Drespling: A picture is worth a thousand words, but what about a song?

NEW CASTLE — Music is magical. It can transport you to a different time and place. It can effortlessly move you to a point of complete happiness or utter sorrow. A few notes from a piano or the strum of a guitar cord can make you feel as though you’re back at that one magical place that has ingrained itself into your memories.

Rhythm and harmony have power. They hold a degree of cosmic electricity that can move you through time and space. They are in and of themselves, a time machine. In a matter of moments, they can take you from one point of existence to a completely different state.

There are certain songs that have collided with my life events and cemented themselves into my psyche. For example, certain Milli Vanilli songs remind me of my first serious girlfriend. Yeah, I said Milli Vanilli, shut up! Other songs take me to me to quite different spots. The first thump of the bass line in Jane’s Addiction’s, “Mountain Song” immediately takes me to the front of the stage with my friend Shannon. That night we got to see Jane’s Addiction perform one of the most amazing sets ever.


On the other end of the spectrum, there are songs that pull at my heart strings and cause me to fight back the tears. One such song is “Lighting Crashes” by Live. This song was quite popular at the time my ex-wife and I experienced the incredibly debilitating and painful loss of our child. Though the words of the song don’t follow the same situation, the feeling and essence of that emptiness is still ingrained in the aura of the music. I still hear this song on the radio occasionally and most often have to change the station to avoid the flood of emotion. It’s hard to change the station when my wife is sitting beside me. I make up some excuse about there being too much static or that there is supposed to be something interesting on another station.

There are so many songs that I could tell you exactly what I was doing when I first heard them. The memories are so vivid that I can tell you what clothes I was wearing when I first heard Bon Jovi’s, “You Give Love a Bad Name.” I can remember every detail about the weather the day I first heard Thomas Dolby’s, “She Blinded Me With Science.” I can tell you precisely what intersection I was at the first time I heard ICP’s “Chickin’ Huntin’.” I could go on forever listing song after song to illustrate my point, but the feelings and how this music have affected me is such a personal and individual experience.  

It has been said that a picture is worth a thousand words, but I propose that if that equations holds true, then a song is worth infinitely more words. Most people imagine heaven and the afterlife as an expanse of happiness, family, and togetherness. I, however, envision it as an audible ecstasy. An overwhelming joy fed by sacred music full of exhilaration and regenerating power. Music you can experience with your entire body rather than simply hear it with your ears. That truly would be heaven to me!

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