The Transcendent Healing Power of Music

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 “Without music, life would be a mistake.”

~Friedrich Nietzsche

[dropcap]O[/dropcap]n any given day, when you think about listening to music, can you take it or leave it? Or do you feel compelled to drink it in, let it transport you to another world and blow your mind?

When I was in 5th grade, I bought my first album (with my own money) -- Hotel California by The Eagles. I listened to that record at least ten thousand times. To this day, I still adore it.

The guitars start playing, queue the drums . . .

On a dark desert highway, cool wind in my hair, Warm smell of colitas, rising up through the air. Up ahead in the distance, I saw a shimmering light. My head grew heavy and my sight grew dim. I had to stop for the night There she stood in the doorway; I heard the mission bell. And I was thinking to myself, “This could be Heaven or this could be Hell.” Then she lit up a candle and she showed me the way. There were voices down the corridor, I thought I heard them say…”

I was literally in the music . . . transcending all thought, and moving straight into my soul. The lyrics, the beat, the vibe - it was all there. I would lay down, close my eyes and just dive into the sacred waters of that song’s amazing sound.

You see, music has always either helped me remember significant past moments—and actually re-live them—or allowed me to completely forget everything. It’s been both my sanity-restorer and my escape.

Before my mom passed away, I asked one thing of her - that she keep in contact with me when she gets to heaven through music. I could barely get the words out of my mouth, but I had to know what to look for when she was gone. The thought of being completely disconnected from her was too much for my heart to bear.

This is Your Brain on Music

By Dr. Daniel J. Levitin “Music may be the activity that prepared our pre-human ancestors for speech communication and for the very cognitive, representational flexibility necessary to become humans.”

Read the Book >

After her funeral I was completely destroyed. I got into my car to head home and with tears streaming down my face, I turned on the radio. And there it was, “Fire & Rain” by James Taylor. My mom had been listening to James Taylor—and that song in particular—since I was in her belly. At that moment, I knew it was a nudge from her, because I instantly felt better.

It kept happening – I’d hear “Fire and Rain” when I needed her the most. After my Uncle Jim’s wake (he was my mom’s brother), I was explaining to my cousin Brian, uncle Jim’s son) “the James Taylor phenomenon.” I think he thought I was wacko, until we got in my car to drive home. There it was, as soon as I turned the car on:

I've seen fire and I've seen rain I've seen sunny days that I thought would never end. I've seen lonely times when I could not find a friend, But I always thought that I'd see you again.”

Brian looked like he had seen a ghost, but I knew who it was. My mom was with me on my darkest days.

To take this story to another level, the next month, James Taylor was performing in Chicago. I happened to be online that morning and saw the upcoming show. I grabbed a friend and with no tickets, we headed to the concert venue. When we arrived, I saw a man standing alone outside the concert hall with two tickets in his hands. Asking him what he was selling them for, he said, “Face value . . . I just want to get my money back out of ‘em.” And y’know, they were 2nd row center. WHAT???

I knew every word to every song he sang that night, and since we were sitting so close, I could look right into his eyes as he sang. It felt as though I was right on stage with him . . . truly incredible.

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As the show was ending, a security guard who’d been standing nearby the entire show—and who’d clearly seen me beaming—walked up to me, singled me out and asked if I would like to meet James after the show. My mind reeled: What the f@*k is going on?!?!

“Oh my GOD, yes I want to meet him! I have to tell him something,” I gushed to the guard. Within minutes, I was standing with Mr.Taylor, explaining the whole story about my mom. What was happening was unreal and I knew my mom was behind it all!

I had almost the identical experience with Wynonna Judd (another one of my mom’s favorite singers), but I’ll save that for another blog!

As Mr. Ludwig van Beethoven once said, “Music is a higher revelation than all wisdom and philosophy.”

To which I say, “Yay, mon!”

Valerie singing with Lionel Richie’s guitar player at The Smog Cutter,

Do you have an incredible music story to share?Have you been contacted from the other side?Do tell.