Music has power. That seems almost silly to say because obviously music has power.
Music, being one of the longest standing traditions of human kind, from before any formal language was developed, is obviously incredibly important to humans. Time and time again, however, music has proven itself to be one of the most incredible motivators for people. Time and time again, music proves that it has power.
On occasion, this power is not so great. The power of music can be too much, and can be used negatively. There are fabled stories of a song, released in English as "Gloomy Sunday" by artists such as Billie Holiday, that has repeatedly driven people to suicide. This song was composed in Hungary in 1933 by Rezso Seress, and was originally about the desperation of war, titled "Vege a vilagnak" or "The World is Ending" in English. The song was later given new lyrics by poet Laszlo Javor about a man who committed suicide after his lover's death. This version was titled "Szomoru vasarnap" or "Sad Sunday" and became far more popular, leaving the original lyrics almost forgotten. Upon later English versions, the song became known as the "Hungarian Suicide Song" and was rumored to be so sad that many people killed themselves after listening to it.
More recently however, the opposite effect is more common. If you check out almost any band's Youtube videos, Instagram posts, Twitter mentions, you'll see hundreds of fans praising their music, often for one reason above the rest.
"You saved my life."
The above statement is one that many artists have heard, and for many artists, it is the greatest thing that they could hear. Their music is helping people, saving people, changing the world. Their music has power, and that power is good.
One of the most recent songs that has helped in this way, has provided an incredible service. That song is "1-800-273-8255" by Maryland rapper Logic. If you thought that the song title seems an awful lot like a phone number, then you were right. The song title is the number for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.
The song tells the story of Logic's depression and anxiety. He sings about his suicidal thoughts and the pain they brought him, but then the song shifts.
He begins to sing about his life now, his happiness, his freedom from his fear and want for death. He ends the song singing about the availability of happiness for everyone, regardless of where they are now.
The song has had a tremendous impact on the lifeline. On the day that the song was released, the lifeline received its second highest call volume ever.
They received over 4573 calls on that day alone. Google searches for the lifeline increased by over 100% on the day of the single's release, and again on the day of the album's release. The lifeline has a new search baseline 25% higher than before the song.
The Facebook page saw three times the normal traffic on the day of release and the twitter page had over 1 million visitors over a five day period. The website saw an increase in monthly traffic of over 100,000 people for the months of April and May. Many people who called mentioned Logic's song, and over a third of those said they resonated with the feelings in the song. Logic himself said that "1-800-273-8255" is "the most important song I've ever wrote."
Music is powerful, and it can be used for good. This is evidenced through the plethora of songs and artists out there who are credited with saving peoples' lives. Not only that, but all the songs released to fund disaster repair, such as after the 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Japan.
Over the entire course of human history, very few things have stayed with us, and have been as ingrained into the human mind as music.
Everyone has their own preferences, everyone knows their favorite artist or their favorite album. Music has evolved and changed over the years, bending and shaping to the culture of the time, yet it persists.
It has been here since the dawn of man, conveying thoughts and emotions, a universal language, a way to represent fear and sadness and a way to represent hope and happiness. I know that I have my own emotional connections to songs, and I feel like most everyone does.
Music is powerful, and that is not something we should forget. Our words have power and our feelings root in music.
Dalton Fox is a recent graduate of Oak Grove High School and soon-to-be freshman at the University of Alabama. This summer he is working as a news intern with the team at The Lamar Times, The Petal News, and The Hatteisburg Post.