Friday, October 7, 2011

Thankful for "The Whole Love" of Music

Over the past few years, I have developed quite the affinity and respect for Wilco. Jeff Tweedy and the rest of Wilco together create extremely interesting, varied, sometimes energetic, sometimes just plain emotional music that sometimes carries on for a long time (they have some tracks in excess of ten minutes)—different than anything else I’ve ever heard before. Some of Wilco’s songs are perfect for fuelling the energy of a party (“Heavy Metal Drummer,” “I Might”), and others are the kind you need to listen to by yourself in your car, so the lyrics can be tucked around you and all of the interesting sounds can serenade you alone (“Country Disappeared,” “Ashes of American Flags”).

Emmett in his Wilco concert merch from Joel: "Wilco Loves Your Baby"

Wilco just released their new album called The Whole Love on September 27. I love it. I was thoroughly impressed and have thoroughly enjoyed listening to the album. I thought that I would write a post about Wilco and their new album this week.

I started with going to their website, and the first thing my eyes locked on was a large link that read, “Please Read Henry’s Story.” I thought, How nice; probably a story about some fan. I complied to the site’s request and read Henry’s story.

Well, Henry’s story ended up being an emotional one about a boy named Henry. He was a musician at heart, inherently, from birth, and he also happened to love Wilco.

He died when he was 18. His mother wrote this beautiful story about him, and her story ended with a very moving description of the way that Wilco and The Whole Love impacted her, in light of Henry and his way-too-soon death.

Having read that story, I have decided to turn down another side trail (which leads to a huge general expanse of meaning instead of something smaller and specific), instead of just reviewing Wilco’s new album. Yes, it’s awesome. Yes, you should listen to it. Yes, you should listen to all of Wilco’s albums because they are all awesome.

There’s more. Down the side trail I’ve decided to take, I see the bigger picture. I see how many of us, in many different ways, respond to music that our fellow human brothers and sisters have created—it impacts us.

We were created to react to music, to feel rejuvenated by music and to be inspired by music.
I have always known that people connect with some music, but perhaps not others, and that’s maybe because of the way we were wired “musically.” In some way or another, we were created to connect with music. 

What Henry’s story reminded me of is that music also brings us together (just like Henry and his mother connected with each other in a certain way through Wilco’s music). Music creates community. Music can facilitate connections between people that would have never existed without it. Lyrics can “hit home” and make the listener feel like he or she is not alone but instead connected with others who feel the same way.

Because of Henry’s story and its connection with music, many people have connected with Henry’s mother. Many people have been inspired by the story; in fact, Wilco also has a link on their site to donate to Henry’s fund, a non-profit organization that provides help for youth age 12-20 who have drug addictions.

The impact of music doesn't stop there. Not only are we wired to connect with certain music, and consequentially, with other people through that music, music lives on past those connections to play a significant role in perpetuating itself:

Music facilitates a passionate cycle of creativity.

Songs impact and inspire souls to create something—like more music—that impacts other souls into reacting another way, and the cycle continues. Songs can dig down to your guts, strum your heart strings, make your head tingle and your eyes water and your soul feel more alive than it has in many months, or perhaps many years. Emotions and inspiration and passion can be transformed into music. Music breeds feeling. Feeling grows into love. Love keeps us alive.

Wilco in particular is doing exceptionally well in connecting stories, experiences and people by creating music and lyrics that envelop the soul, excite the mind and inspire others to action.

This Thanksgiving, I’m very thankful for music – I’m thankful that God added music into the mix when He created us and this world.

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