Friday, March 18, 2011

Headbanging with Wolves

The story of a Norwegian boy who frightened off a pack of wolves who were surrounding him by blasting them with a heavy metal track, made me think about the significant times in my life when music in general, or a particular song, has been inextricably linked.

Every time I hear 'I See Red' by Splitz Enz, I recall sitting next to my mum in the car when another car rear ended her as she waited to turn into the driveway of my uncle's house. Hearing Tears for Fears always makes me think of an old girlfriend. Songs by my boyhood bands, Australian legends, like Midnight Oil and The Angels, transport me back in time. I associate Stryper with my early years as a Christian when I abandoned all my heavy metal music, including giving away my 15 album strong KISS collection. It was time when I needed to hear 'To Hell with the Devil', by Stryper rather than 'we worship you Satan' by Possessed.

At different times and in different situations, the lyrics of particular songs can be remarkably poignant. "Wherever you Go" by Richard Marx is our song. The words were so appropriate as my wife and I spent most of our courtship separated by thousands of kilometres. In this song we heard our own voices, our emotions, our thoughts expressed better than we could have done ourselves.

This is the real power of music: to connect to the heart of the listener. Regardless of the style of music, (everyone knows metal rules anyway), the songs I love, speak to me. They provide words when I cannot find them. Have you ever listened to the lyric of a song and thought it was written for you, or to you, or about you?

Sometimes these kinds of high impact songs can be helpful, they provide happiness, empathy and even comfort, but sometimes they can be harmful. How many times can you listen to a song before you know the lyric, and at what point do you believe it? When does it become a part of you forever? When does it transform your mind? When does it convince you? When does it drag you into dark places and lock you up? When does it seditiously plant lies in your mind?

When wolves surround you, how will you scare them away? Are the songs in your head powerful enough to defeat your enemies, or are they eroding your will, weakening your resolve, leaving your vulnerable. Hugely popular heavy metal band, Disturbed, have called their current tour, Music as a Weapon. I rest my case.

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