the necessity of art

I remember when I first fell in love with Regina Spektor’s music. I had just turned 16 and had learned how to drive a stick-shift.  My mom had put me in charge of driving my brother and some teammates to football practice every day.  As I made the 20-minute trek back and forth and stalled at every red light, Regina sang to me in the background.

I bought the album Far and fell in love.  Why did I buy that album?  I don’t remember.  I saw it at Target and thought, I would like this.  I had known some of her previous songs, like The Call, Samson, and Fidelity, but I hadn’t listened to anything else by her.

As I undertook the stressful journey of switching from 2nd to first gear at every red light,  I fell in love.  Her lyrics were more than just “I love you but you broke my heart”, but they told stories.  I became obsessed with finding out the hidden meaning behind each song.  I tried to discover her stories.

I love her music because her songs are more than just a love songs.  She uses metaphors and similes and alliteration and puts it to music.  She uses her music as a commentary on relationships as well as deeper issues in society. Her voice is so simply beautiful.  Accompanied by simple piano melodies, this combination provides the perfect setting to touch other’s minds in a moving way.


This is the type of art that I appreciate. Art that makes me think and makes me want to change.  Art that moves me to be more creative and see the world around me in a different way.  Art that helps me empathize and understand someone else’s perspective. Art that motivates me to change.  Art that instigates gratitude and appreciation.

There is a necessary power behind any form of art: music, theater, poetry, paintings, photography, and literature.  It is because of these things that we can understand each other when it seems impossible to find common ground.  It is through these mediums that we can connect with others.  For me, music holds some of my fondest memories.  I turn to music when I am in pain and I find empathy through the lyrics.  I turn to music when I am happy as it encourages celebration.  I also can have a deeper appreciation for experiences that others are having that I have not experienced.  As Atticus Finch would say, it provides an avenue for me to crawl into someone else’s skin and walk around in it.

Art’s ability to touch our hearts in ways that nothing else can is almost a necessity for experiencing humanity.   It is through art that we can see the world in all of its different lenses.

When I listen to Regina now, it brings me back to driving that stick-shift in the dead heat of the Arizona summers.  It brings the calm of knowing that I can accomplish anything. It reminds me of the power of music and creativity in my life.  It inspires me to be productive and learn something new.

I am curious, what does music or any art form do for you?  Do you associate specific music with certain experiences or emotions? If so, tell me about some pieces or songs that do this for you.

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