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Nine Moons » Blog Archive : Things Music Can Teach You » Things Music Can Teach You

Things Music Can Teach You

Susan M - February 1, 2007

Has music ever taught you anything?

When you lose a lot of loved ones, you can start to shy away from caring too deeply about people. You begin to think of certain situations as setting yourself up for pain. I’ve kept my distance from some family members lately (the type who cause nothing but grief). When I considered getting my kids a dog last year, one of my biggest concerns was whether I wanted to set myself up for the grief that would inevitably come when it died.

Yesterday on my way to work a song came on my cd player by a band called Bell X1, “In Every Sunflower.” These particular lines jumped out at me:

I wouldn’t swap the pain
For never knowing you

It made me think about the people I’ve grieved for, and how it was so true—I would never swap the pain for never knowing them. I thought about how knowing them was so precious to me. I sometimes marvel over the people they were. By cutting myself off from people, I’m depriving myself of knowing how marvelous others are.

It’s interesting to me how music and songs can teach us things in ways other methods can’t. I think of my favorite hymn, “A Poor Wayfaring Man of Grief,” and how moving it is. And how it brings Matthew 25: 31-46 to life.

And in a more light-hearted (and probably completely inappropriate) vein, the song “Blinded By the Light” by Mannfred Mann taught me what a douche was. You know, because of the line, “Wrapped up like a douche…”

Have you ever learned anything from a song?

13 Comments »

  1. And in a more light-hearted (and probably completely inappropriate) vein, the song “Blinded By the Light” by Mannfred Mann taught me what a douche was. You know, because of the line, “Wrapped up like a douche…”

    LOL! …uh are you joking?…I think the line goes…

    Blinded by the light
    Revved up like a deuce, another runner in the night.

    And btw, thanks for the post. Music is what keeps me close to Him.

    Comment by cj douglass — February 1, 2007 @ 9:47 am

  2. I loved this post. Music has been so important in my life. It is my primary way of expressing spirituality. Lately, when I often feel so far removed from Heavenly Father, that’s my way of communing.

    I love to sing and play the piano. When I was single, I would spend literally hours sitting at the piano playing and singing. (It drove my family nuts.) Now that I’m a mom, I rarely do it. It’s just too hard to keep the kids from crawling all over me, fighting over who sits on the bench, turning the pages of the music – once they are in bed, playing would be too intrusive, and I feel like something precious has gone out of my life. I think I need to work on getting that back.

    Comment by Sue — February 1, 2007 @ 10:17 am

  3. Um, yeah, that was a joke about the douche line. When in doubt, assume I don’t actually mean what I’m saying. :)

    I hope you can find a way to get back to it Sue. But remember, the kids won’t be little forever. I miss the days of not being able to do something because the kids were climbing all over me.

    Comment by Susan M — February 1, 2007 @ 11:16 am

  4. I have to pipe up here to note that “Blinded by the Light” is a Bruce Springsteen song, covered by Mann. (The real lyrics are “Cut loose like a deuce…”)

    Comment by Greg — February 1, 2007 @ 11:40 am

  5. Wow, I don’t think I ever knew that. Does Bruce sound like he’s singing “douche,” too?

    Comment by Susan M — February 1, 2007 @ 11:58 am

  6. I found this on Wikipedia:

    Bruce Springsteen, in his 2005 VH1 Storytellers appearance, lightheartedly made the assertion that the sole reason that Manfred Mann’s version of the song went to number one is that the altered lyric is actually “revved up like a douche”. Bruce said, “The original lyric is ‘cut loose like a deuce’ referring to a two seat hot-rod, a little deuce coupe. Manfred Mann changed the lyric to ‘revved up like a douche.’ which is a feminine hygienic procedure.” It should be noted, however, that Manfred Mann’s website lists the lyric as “deuce” rather than “douche”. It was once rumored that Chris Thompson’s New Zealand accent may be responsible for swapping deuce for douche.

    Comment by Greg — February 1, 2007 @ 12:15 pm

  7. Susan,
    I’d be interested to know what kind of effect doom metal has on you. I listen to metal(or any heavy, power chordy type music) because it stimulates my creativity in a way that spiritual music cannot. My mission president was known to teach that if a type of music was not condusive to the spirit then it was of the devil. I personally feel that spiritual music is of the most value to me but I don’t view other types as of no value. Instead I think they serve a different purpose. Does evil music exist? yes, but its not as cut and dry as hymns and everything else. Anyway, it would be great to hear your thoughts.

    Comment by cj douglass — February 1, 2007 @ 12:40 pm

  8. There’s two genres of music that bring me the most joy—doom metal and bluegrass. They really make me happy. It’s funny that something a lot of people would call evil-sounding (you should hear what I’m listening to as I type this) makes me want to smile and laugh (and not just laugh at the silly, evil-sounding vocals, although that is part of it—how can that not be funny?). But I also have an auditory processing disorder, and I’m sure that’s part of why I love doom metal—I’m drawn to the low-end heavy bass sound.

    I don’t actually listen to doom very often, though. I prefer to experience it live.

    Comment by Susan M — February 1, 2007 @ 12:47 pm

  9. Susan, I’ve also found that it is impossible for me to be grumpy while listening to bluegrass. Zydeco also has the same influence on me. Do you like zydeco?

    Comment by Mark IV — February 1, 2007 @ 5:20 pm

  10. I don’t think I’ve heard much zydeco. Drop me an email though if you want: whenigodeaf at gmail dot com.

    Comment by Susan M — February 1, 2007 @ 6:09 pm

  11. Music is more about sonics than meaning for me. It’s about the experience of hearing and appreciating beautiful or interesting sounds. Sometimes the sonics can accentuate and add meaning, but for the most part I’m not much of a words guy. I rarely pay much attention to what the music is trying to be about. So I probably learn less than I could. But like the best literature, music can teach us a lot about ourselves and about being a human.

    As I look through my music thinking of what I have learned or what could be learned from it, I can’t think of a lot of specific things. In a general sense, I think a lot of the value of music and literature and other arts comes from experiencing life through the eyes of someone else. Honest, thoughtful expression of ideas and feelings usually has some value, regardless of the specifics.

    I did come up with a few specific examples:

    Handel’s Messiah taught me in a powerful way to appreciate the Savior.

    I learned from Elliott Smith’s music why some people take drugs (and his demise re-emphasized to me why self-medication is not a good idea and why people need love).

    From TV On the Radio I was reminded of the personal cost of conflict: “I was a lover before this war.”

    I haven’t learned anything from Radiohead, but they make great noise.

    Comment by Tom — February 1, 2007 @ 8:23 pm

  12. I’m exactly the same as Tom when it comes to the sonics of music. I rarely listen to the lyrics of a song, I mostly like stuff for the way it sounds. That’s why I enjoy Sigur Ros as much as anything in English. There are some exceptions though, mostly hymns. Poor Wayfaring Man of Grief; Come, Come Ye Saints; I Stand All Amazed all bring me to tears if I’m listening to what I’m singing.

    Comment by Rusty — February 1, 2007 @ 8:43 pm

  13. Great post! Not being at all an emotional person, music is about the only way I express myself. I only wish I were a better musician.

    I’d have to say that both the sounds AND the lyrics of songs teach me things. Sometimes each by themselves but usually through the brilliant combination of the two. Certian phrases mean more because an inspired composer put the music they did to that phrase. This is easiest for me to recognise when scripture is put to music but occurs in all genres.

    Comment by Bret — February 1, 2007 @ 9:14 pm

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