Music is Power


If you know me, I am one of those hippie-hop people who believes in the transformative power of music. I’ve never really bought the whole “art for art’s sake” concept, and I wholeheartedly believe that music has the power to change the world for the better.

So to get right to it, my first reason is that Music connects us to each other.

Our love for music is a raft that all humans can share in the sea of our perceived differences. Musical expression is a key component of both our individual ethnicity and collective culture. It keeps us grounded in our rich past, helps us enjoy the here-and-now, and foretells of bright futures. As time progressed and we change, our music changes. But it also happens vice versa in key instances.

Look at specific eras like the Civil Rights Movement, for example. Music was utilized as a vital instrument for social change. Whether it was anti-war sentiment, the Black Power movement, a call for the end of police brutality, the exposition of the social inequality faced in the inner city, etc., musicians used their art to bump political messages out your speakers. It was a key facilitator for social progress. A simple but cogent example to illustrate this would be dancing.

We all like to dance our cares away, so the dance floor was on the front-lines of tools that sprinkled at least a pinch of cognitive dissonance into white supremacist ideology. How could some white people reconcile hating black people, but loving their music? How could they sick dogs on demonstrators in the morning, then jam to Marvin Gaye at the night club? How could they deny the humanity of a race with their fists, but appreciate it with their hips? Their inability to cope this contradiction planted seeds which grew to expose the hypocrisy of racism within the wider scope of the issues in the era. This shared love drove a wedge in our rancor towards each other. It brought everyone into the same musical world; for some, just for that three minutes the song is playing, or the couple hours of a concert. But for others, this nexus lasted a life-time.

Now, I don’t want to imply that music was only the reason that minorities in this country gained their civil rights. Going to Congress and jamming on the sax couldn’t yield political victories. Malcolm X wasn’t a beast at slappin’ the bass, and MLK wasn’t a virtuoso at ticklin’ the ivories (I just wanted to use those phrases one day in context because I think they are hilarious..…..I digress). But music asserts the connection human beings have between one another. Music dissolves the social barriers that divide us, even in a global society where all too often, distinction is not only passively asserted, but demanded with aggression. We all have similar experiences, feelings, ways of expression, goals, etc., and music helps to retighten those ties lost in translation.

Whether you’re conservative, liberal, white, black, red, yellow, burgundy, or magenta, we all still have cordial conversations on how we grew up on Marvin Gaye and Elton John, how Michael Jackson will always be the King, that John Lennon was a beast, how we laughed at that witty line in the new Lil’ Wayne song, how we wish Lauryn Hill would come back, how Kanye is a jerk when he’s not busy being a genius, how weird Lady Gaga’s outfits are, and how Adele literally makes us cry tears of joy. Music allows us to meet each other half-way.

The other reason music is powerful is because it connects us to the spiritual.

I’ll spend a little less time on this part because I know it’s touchier subject and everyone doesn’t hold the same views as me. But to me, music is a gift from God. It is one of the many things that I believe proves the existence of a Higher Power. We all have those songs that speak to us as if they knew our inner thoughts in and out, inch by inch in intimate detail. They minister to us in a way that no one else can. They give us a safe place happy or sad or mad or even sadder. The sun shines brighter when we are in tune with the right tune.

How else can you explain our deep emotional connection to music? We are the cobra as the snake charmer plays his flute. Mesmerized by it. We move.  Entranced in its influence. We move. The primal power of the drums connect us to the origin of life, while eloquent instruments like violins lift us to the celestial.

Have you ever been in a room listening to your favorite song and you felt as if you could listen to it forever, as if you were in the clouds, and turning the song off repeat would be like falling out of your personal heaven? I think we all have.

Music is synchronized with our soul, it is the language of our spirit. I believe that in many ways, the melody, the harmony, the beat, and the lyrics are a direct dialogue with the Lord as much as it is a conversation between the hearts of people. God speaks to us through music. He lets us know He is there, He lets us know everything will be ok.

And throughout our lives, we need that brand of warm reassurance. Politics are (for the most part) a joke. Self-interest seems to always pummel over empathy or shared sacrifice with direct indifference. Although recovering, the economy has been in shambles, natural disasters seem to be happening every month, and let’s not even talk about the daily news.

Things can change for the better though, if our popular artists acknowledge the transformative power of their music. If you don’t believe me, just think about it: what if Neo-Soul was still played on mainstream radio? Give Beyonce’s iconic status to Jill Scott. Hand Lady Gaga’s fan base to Norah Jones, or play Erykah Badu at the club. Buy everyone you know Adele’s CD for Christmas. Request that MTV play Me’shell Ndegeocello just as much as Nicki Minaj………………to say things would be different is a pretty big understatement.

Western philosopher Friedrich Nietzche once said “without music, life would be a mistake”. 

Music is Power yall. Power to the People. Support Good Music. Buy albums and stop bootlegging everything lol.

…….but naw, seriously though. Buy albums.

We Out Here,

Josh A

Follow me on Twitter & Instagram @iRockJoshA

For Journalistic Inquiries: jca8z@virginia.edu

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Categories: JoshArticles, Music

1 comment

  1. no doubt, joshua…music is power, spirit force, a connective tissue capable of bringing disparate parts together in unimaginable ways…you recognize that on days like today, when many of us, northerners, southerners, women and men, black and white, sacred and secular, mourn the death of one of the greats, gil scott heron, who may not have been the most technically proficient singer, but whose voice, whose message, and whose deep grooves had the ability to snap your heart into two at the drop of a proverbial apple jack (i.e. hat).

    music is divine, and truth be told, it’s never let me down.
    enjoyed the read, the english major is paying off, you write really well.

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