I have always been drawn to music. From the time I could remember, I was fascinated with songs, the words they used, the sounds they produced, the ways they could make me feel. My first love at a young 4 years old was Shania Twain; I could listen to her Come on Over album on repeat for hours, singing every song verbatim in time the beat and making sure to parrot my then-idol’s voice the best I absolutely could.
Thus began a long love story, with the main interest for the better part of my young life being country music. But thanks to my mother and brother, I received a well-rounded pop music education that blew my little brain — from The Beatles and Journey, to Queen and Aerosmith, from Destiny’s Child and TLC, to Whitney Houston and Michael Jackson, my eyes and ears were opened to the extent of what music could sound like. I can recall many a summer afternoon spent loading an iPod with the biggest buffet of music I could possibly add at one time, and then sitting on the floor of my room listening to every single song I just added. I can still remember all the afternoons my brother and I spent sitting in his first car, parked in the driveway, rotating CDs in and out of the disc player as we air-guitarred and dashboard-drummed our way through half a day.
Now a young professional with a job, I can’t exactly sit in my room or in my brother’s car to spend hours listening to all the music I want. Instead, my AirPods get quite the workout, jumping from one playlist to the next, sometimes for a full eight hours per day.
This week, as I was chugging through my workload, I had a moment to discover some long-lost favorites, as well as some different takes on some of my favorites. I recently discovered Live on the Inside, an album I once played into oblivion from country music duo Sugarland, was hiding on Spotify this WHOLE time. So imagine my surprise when I scrolled down on the Sugarland profile page to see it sitting before me. It was as if my entire childhood came flooding back to me. As I listened to their covers of Pearl Jam’s “Better Man” and R.E.M.’s “The One I Love,” I was suddenly the 13-year-old sitting on my bedroom floor, marveling at the talent it took to produce such thoughtful covers.
In my travels through the thick forest of Spotify, I also discovered some acoustic versions of songs from more other artists I’ve come to enjoy. From an acoustic attempt of Alessia Cara’s all-too-relevant “Growing Pains,” to piano versions of Wrabel’s “Jupiter” and “Hurts Like Hell,” and even a few piano takes of some R&B favorites I’ve come to amass like H.E.R.’s “Slide,” I found myself traveling down a rabbit hole of music that — by a little patience in my searchING — I have been lucky enough to rediscover. To hear again, but while reconsidering the song in ways I have yet to do.
This is what makes music such a thrill for me. As someone who can neither sing nor play music, I marvel at the talent it takes to reenvision your own song (or someone else’s), to strip it back, rearrange it, and put it back together in a way that still fits, that still makes sense, and still moves your audience. This, to me, is a different kind of intelligence, one that I will never understand but will always be in awe of nonetheless.
So what matters today is rediscovery, the revisitation of present and past favorites and the reinvention of those favorites. What matters today is the way a song can transport you right back to a certain place, time, memory, event, or feeling, the way all it takes is an opening chord to stop you in your tracks and make you crack a small smile as the memory washes over you. What matters today is finding time even in the midst of a busy work day or busy life to seek out what makes you happy, what feeds your inner self, what makes you pause and look up for even a single second.
What matters most today letting whatever it is that fuels your soul move you, letting yourself feel what you need to feel when you start to feel it. Because that feeling of being moved may be just what you need to recenter yourself and make it through the day with a little smile on your face — and a song in your head.