Billy Joel, a famous rock musician who has stood the test of time from the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s, once said that: “I think music in itself is healing. It is an explosive expression of humanity. It is something we are all touched by…
27). I believe this is a thoroughly accurate and insightful comment about the role that music plays in the human experience. If we look around to the different periods and different cultures of the world throughout humankind’s history, we see music as one of the few timeless facts of existence. Music is touching, as Mr. Joel says, because it expresses the inexpressible. In other words, it allows us to connect to concepts, emotions, thoughts, beliefs, and the knowledge of other people, just by the simple act of listening. Going from the beginning of my life to the present moment, I can think quite clearly of the defining soundtrack to that progression of events. Starting in the mid- to late-1970s, which was during my childhood years, I can recall bits and pieces of my favorite music. I know that classics like “Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer” and other Christmas songs were still very much popular. More generally, however, I remember Schoolhouse Rock! very vividly being a big hit at my school and with my parents. Schoolhouse Rock! was a television program that had a number of hit musical recordings for children. I think that the social aspect of Schoolhouse Rock! helps me remember so much about it, partly because it was so incredibly popular with kids my age. I preferred “Science Rock” the most, probably because it reflected my young interest in the sciences, particularly space and physics. It would make me feel happy about my love of learning as a young kid in physics class. Also from my childhood, I remember loving Mister Rogers Neighborhood and the songs he would sing to his television audience. His voice is iconic of my time as a young child growing up in front of the television. In my adolescence, between 1984 and 1991, my taste in music started to be influenced by my family and friends. In 1984, at 11, Stevie Wonder was my favorite performer. His song “I Just Called to Say I Love You” struck me for Stevie’s great singing ability and skill as an instrumentalist and lyricist. At about 13, I began to like the music that my friends liked. In 1987, I remember Guns N’ Roses’ “Welcome to the Jungle” being extremely popular, along with U2’s “With or Without You”. Listening to this music helped me feel connected with others, just like the children’s music of the 1970s had the decade before. Nevertheless, this new style of rock music that was emerging did give me an element of rebelliousness that pop music from singers like Whitney Houston and Rick Astley lacked. Accordingly, I tended to like the heavier rock more. My taste for heavy rock continued in that direction for much of the remainder of the 1980s. I bought tape cassettes from Quiet Riot, Def Leppard, and Whitesnake, all of whom really represented the youth of that time. In line with Billy Joel’s insight, I think the music I listened to helped give me a point of contact with other young people at that time. Moving away from the 1980s and toward today, I no longer associate hard rock or metal with comfort. Rather, I find comfort in contemporary R&B music. “R&B” stands for “rhythm and blues”, and refers to music that combines elements of hip-hop, soul, and funk (George, 2003, p. 23). Contemporary R&B is polished with saxophone sounds, drum machine rhythms, and talented vocalists. In terms of finding comfort in music, I usually turn to voices like Alicia Keys, Mariah Carey, and Jamie Foxx, who all represent that genre of music. When I am feeling disappointment or stress, this music helps me put my problems into perspective. Because much R&B music deals with grander problems, it helps me realize that some of the challenges I face do not compare in size and scope with those being sung about in R&B music. ...
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