When it comes to mental health, there is no one cure all medicine that works for every single person on the planet. Each of us are so different that what works for one person isn’t going to work for another person, and what works for you today might not work for you tomorrow.
When I was about eleven years old I discovered the Friday night special on the local Calgary radio station. It was a DJ whose name I can’t remember, who played house music until well after midnight. And sometimes I would just lay just outside my door (because that’s where the plugin was), to listen to the radio.
When I was about four or five, maybe younger, I heard Walk Like an Egyptian for the first time, and that was the moment that I was hooked. I still remember my mom turning the television off in the middle of the song, and honestly part of me is absolutely still bitter about that.
Music has the kind of ability to transport our minds like nothing on this planet. When we hear good music, whether we like the artist or not, we can’t help but dance. Today one of my absolute favorite songs is Watermelon something or other by some English guy, I don’t necessarily adore the lyrics, mostly because I can’t remember them, but I do love the song itself.
I am listening to Michael Jackson right now, and he was a constant in our house growing up. Along with Bob Marley, the Five Tops, the Supremes, and Los Lobos, we listened to a lot of music growing up, and as we got older music in our house shifted from the classics to Snoop Dogg.
I will never, ever, forget the first time my mom realized what Snoop was saying in one of his earlier albums. I don’t remember which one it was, I think it may have been his first, but I remember she had proudly presented it to my brother for his birthday. He was playing it in his room, and she heard the lyrics, I’ve never seen her throw anything in the trash so fast.
Even though we swore she had bought it for him, it was like the first time she heard me singing the lyrics to “Let’s Talk About Sex,” I was six, she was less than impressed, but she didn’t stop me from listening to the song.
Music through the centuries has evolved, but the one thing that remains absolutely true is the fact that music makes us feel something. The first time I heard Nemo by Nightwish I played that song over and over again because it made me cry. It made me weep like a baby, and I had never experienced that before. I can’t listen to that song today.
My December by Linkin Park is another that makes me weep, I listened to that song before I decided that I needed to enter recovery to find out what the fuck was wrong with me. Chester Bennington is the very first artist whose lyrics made me feel like someone in the world understood what it was like to be me.
When I am at my most stressed it’s probably because I haven’t been listening to music, and I am absolutely convinced that music is medicine in ways that I didn’t fully comprehend until just this moment. When I started LMBG four years ago, one of the first things that I did was to buy a whole bunch of cannabis.
After mom would go to work I’d lock the door, open the balcony door, turn on the music, and spend the day getting stoned and thinking about my life and the things that mattered to me. Music was a huge part of the early development of LMBG, mostly Blues and Jazz, because there’s just something about Blues and Jazz that awakens that more spiritual side of me.
But today I am listening to Michael Jackson, and I am remembering how different was in the 80s and 90s. Everything was bigger, louder, a lot more sexual for sure, but in a way that was…just different than it is now. In the 80s and 90s sex was brand new to the big stage.
In the 70s it was all about love, but in the 80s and 90s it was in a very real way about connection, as time has gone on, sex and music have continued to wrap around each other in ways that I don’t think we’ve fully been able to discover yet.
One of my favorite songs of all time is “Never Gonna Give You Up”, by Rick Astley, for no other reason than it makes me laugh, I don’t know why because it’s a very heartfelt song, but I just spent two full minutes cackling as I listen to this song, and I think it’s because it reminds me of Milli Vanilli.
When I was about seven or eight, my friend Kate Barnes and I would dance to this song while it played on the TV, my step-dad used to make fun of us but we didn’t care. We were both completely heartbroken when we found they lip synced their songs.
Back in the 90s people were absolutely obsessed with 2Pac and the West Cost vs East Coast rivalry, you’d think it was our lives that depended on how it was going to eventually turn out. The drama of it all just added to the love of the music, and through it all, we danced, sang along, laughed, cried, and created the soundtracks to our lives.
Leave a comment if you remember recording songs of MTV or Much Music using a stereo instead of downloading it with the press of a button, so you could have a tape to carry with you at all times.
I will say that for me music was less of a love and more of a complete and total obsession, the first time I saw Metallica on Much Music I started to understand what real music was….the pain, the sorrow, the fear, the love of the craft was evident in the songs and in the videos.
There was an art form to making music videos that many artists just can’t capture today, music videos were like mini movies, and they added to the overall quality of the song.
No matter what I am feeling, no matter how anxious I am, there is almost always a song that brings me back to reality and reminds me that I exist for a reason, even if I don’t fully understand the reason behind why I am feeling the way that I am.
I cannot recommend music therapy for everyone on earth, enough. Whether you are healing from mental health or physical issues, music can totally change your mood.
If you’re feeling down, ask yourself if you’ve taken time to check in with your artists lately.
Sending all my love,
Devon J Hall