One of the things I love most about music is that every single song holds some sort of memory. Unexpectedly, a song trudges out from the speakers, and for approximately three minutes, you are suddenly transported back into a specific moment in time.
It could be the moment you passed your driver’s license test, and you drove around for hours with your windows down and music on full blast just because you could (for me, this song was “Whatever You Like” by T.I...Embarrassing). Your first slow dance (mine was to “Let it Burn” by Usher at Kara’s Bat mitzvah…Also embarrassing). Even the harder moments in life, like the passing of a friend who deserved more time (“Casamir Pulaski Day” by Sufjan Stevens always reminds me of Sam).
Almost every moment is touched by music, and immediately you feel those same emotions that hit you the first time it played. It makes you laugh, or it makes you cry. No matter what, it makes you feel something.
When our creative strategist class was graced by creative genius Kathy Hepinstall, she told us the story of the first time she heard Adele’s “Someone Like You”. Immediately after listening to the touching arpeggios, she was determined to find out who hurt Adele because she was so deeply moved by her music. Of course, this story was one hundred times funnier in-person due to Kathy’s comedic antics, but she also made a great point: “We are not music. People can’t just feel how we feel.”
It’s obvious that Adele boasts incomparable talent, but I think part of her success relies on her ability to express her experiences in a way that everyone relates to. That’s why we sit around crying, eating a tub of mint chocolate chip ice cream and playing her songs on repeat after a bad day. We’ve all triumphed, and we’ve all failed. And now, we all hate that godforsaken man who broke Adele’s heart!
We’ve all felt the way that Adele feels. That’s why music works — it recreates moments that we’ve all been through. It brings us back to memories when we felt something.
But as Kathy said, we are not music. To make people feel something, we need to relate to them; to understand them.
To better our world, I think we should all channel some of Adele’s ability to relate to people. Yes, it sounds like a crazy and semi-sketchy idea to idolize that woman full of heartache and perfect pitches, but each one of us has an immense power to shape society and empower others. Once we can understand each other, I think everything else will fall into place.