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Listen to the music. It helps


Someone once asked me to describe happiness, I got into the whole idea of was it about the perfect, job, relationship, meal, day or joke. I couldn't decide because they all made me happy but the actual essence of the pure feeling of happiness that was harder to think or come by.

I kept thinking on this for a few days and I realised at one point during the day driving home from work listening to Talking Heads on the radio and singing along that it was music. It had the power to lift me out of any slump even if it was for a 5-minute breather before I fell back into the black hole.

Nick Hornby wrote in his book 31 Songs that a perfect song should stand alone in its perfection and not evoke any memories of better times or generally not be good for sentimental reasons but simply because it is a good song. I disagree.

I firmly believe that music has the power to heal and the power to lift your spirit. For me music can lift you in three distinct ways and I am going to use one of my all-time favourite songs Stand by Me by Ben E King to illustrate this.

Memories
Whenever Stand by Me comes on the radio I am transported back to my childhood in Ireland when this song made a comeback in 1987. I am reminded of the film of the same name and all my friends in the neighbourhood singing along to it for pretty much the whole year. I can listen to this song, close my eyes and meditate on memories that are more vivid than a photograph of a time when 2 months off in the summer was a lifetime, when I could have played football for 12 hours a day, and when travelling a mile to the next neighbourhood was an adventure. Bliss.

I'm not crazy
I guess we have all had one of those eureka moments where you have listened to a song for years but you never actually heard it properly. I never knew what he was singing about until I heard it during a pretty bad episode of depression. When he sings, “When the night has come and the land is dark” he could be talking about the night time, but to me it’s almost a literal description of some of my symptoms of depression. Hang on, that means I am not crazy! That means there are other people like me. I’m not crazy!

I am not alone
Stand by Me sold millions, was covered by John Lennon and was number one in the US and the UK. It had a message that countless people got. If that is the case it is OK to be depressed, it is OK to feel alone, and it OK to say that sometimes you need someone to stand by you in this struggle.



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