“Don’t die with the music in you!”
Dr Wayne Dyer
Imagine a world without music! Music in all its forms; your favourite band as you work out or jog, that symphony orchestra that brings deeper emotion to the surface or the music of silence as you surf, fish or sip a wine with a loved one; music is the energy of our spirit. A world without music would be so colourless, dry, dull and boring. Music, an art form that we all need, it’s part of us, it’s part of our souls, it’s part of our spirit.
In this episode of Universal Man we look at music and the role it plays in our lives and the invitation we all share to make music, to harness of the power of music to make something unique and special from within ourselves that will add beauty to our world.
At Greg’s wedding he and his beautiful wife danced the bridal waltz to Bon Jovi and Bed of Roses. They had choreographed their dance to this beautiful music. The wedding guests gathered close around as Greg and Char spun and dipped and twirled. As we watched we were all lifted up, there was something special in the music, in the dance and in the love being danced and celebrated. It wasn’t just music, it wasn’t just dance; the intent to go within made it all so much more. Music’s such an important thing. It’s kind of like a way inside into our spirit. It helps us find meaning. It’s a time and space when we can actually relax, switch off, dream, do all sorts of things. It’s that … it’s like a way in.
Historically, music has played an enormous role in cultural change. You know, in the early days everything was classic. It came from all the classic European composers. As time went on culture changed the music and the music changed the culture. In the 40s and the ’50s we went through all the swing music, then all of a sudden rock and roll turned up. Culture changed on the back of rock and roll. Then it was like heavy metal and into rap and hip hop and all these different versions of music now that are out there. And all of those have led to all of these subcultures. So the very nature of humanity and our culture, throughout the whole of the planet, has been driven by music. All the ceremony of tribes and different groups around the world, they’ve come together around music and dance.
As men, we need to really deliberately engage with this. We need to say, what role does music play within our lives? How can we use it to make us an even finer man? We go back to our pillars, know thyself, grow thyself, and brotherhood. Most guys spend a bit of time doing some introspection. Maybe a bit of a journal here or there. Or maybe going for a long walk or sit on a mountaintop and just thinking. And how often have those times you have been accompanied by some music. Maybe some melancholy music or something to make you think a bit deeper, you know. There is something there.
Music catalyst, litmus test and inspiration – changing your stateMusic is a catalyst. And it is a catalyst for deepening friendships. It is a catalyst for when you’re getting stuck, how to unstuck yourself. It’s a catalyst for relaxation or going inside. Music can bond you and those around you. Some sporting teams have a particular song that they play / sing at the end of every game. It helps create culture, a feeling of belonging; a sense of ‘us’. Rituals like this produce the glue that can stick you together in the tough times. It becomes a unifying song.
Music is almost a bit of a litmus test of how relaxed you are within your own self. If you’re in a great zone, music’s going to be part of your life. When you’re not in a really good space, you’ll often find music is not there. Pricey cannot sing, hopeless bloody singer. But often when walking along a beach, especially when on his own, he will sing! He is in great space; walking along a beach, singing away; in great spirit and great for his spirit!
Music is something that can really inspire you and take you to a new level. It’s really interesting how when you use music, that there’s certain times that you want to use a certain kind of music as opposed to another. Like when Greg goes to the gym, he will always listen to Foo Fighters. It just gets him in the mood to work out. But when on a plane flying interstate for some work, he will listen to way more melancholy tunes, because he doesn’t want the intensity of the gym music. What music does is it changes your state. It changes your emotional state and where you are in the moment. We use music to get us into the right state of mind or to reinforce or deepen that state.
Some looking for inspiration may put on some classical music or maybe some epic soundtracks or something that, you know, straight out of Gladiator or Braveheart to get pumped up. And if you use it in that way, then it becomes a magnificent catalyst for growing yourself, knowing yourself, and brotherhood.
One time Pricey was returning from facilitating a young adult retreat and a young friend of his, Dave, was sitting in the passenger seat. It was about half past eight at night. As he started off on the trip Pricey put on a CD of beautiful music. The first song that played was the theme from the movie Life as a House. It’s this beautiful, orchestral piece with a sense of epic and of awe. They were driving along, this piece is playing and Pricey looked across at Dave, and he was just in his zone with tears coming down his cheeks. Pricey’s gut feeling said not to say anything because the music was taking Dave into a space that he wanted to be in, that he needed to be in. It was a really special kind of a moment.
We all use music in the way we need to – to put in sync with our best self in that moment. On a plane, relaxing, listening to melancholy music – then off the plane and into an important meeting – perhaps game time music – in Greg’s case it’s Guns N’ Roses or Metallica or something like that – for Pricey, showing his age, Eye of the Tiger!
How often do you see athletes now before a match, you see like the pre-match. And everyone’s in the changing room and they’ve all got those great big headphones and all listen to their own tunes or whatever they are. And just trying to reconnect with their spirit that they’re going to take on to the field. The whole thing about this, too, is it can create a sense of balance. Because when we’ve turned the music off in all its forms, we can go within ourselves in a kind of an overly serious way – we over think things. We can be going around in a circle. The music almost takes us out of that.
This takes us back to the science of state control or emotional state control where really there’s three to four main ways of changing your state quickly. One is just shift your posture. Everybody knows what it looks like to see someone who’s depressed as opposed to the shape of their body if they’re confident. Another is your breathing rate, if you change the rhythm of that, which is like at the core of things like yoga and meditation, that changes your state as well. Then the last one is that mindset and then rhythm. Every state has a rhythm to it.
That’s why when you listen to music and you start almost connecting with the rhythm and the beat, your state shifts immediately. And there’s an old rule that if you’re stuck in a depressive or a sad state or a stuck sort of state, get up and go for a walk around the block. Because physically, that will start to get you moving into a new space. And music can do that on the spot. It can get that change of state that you need and get you shifted again.
Rhythm! Think of Robert De Niro doing the tango with that gorgeous woman in the movie Scent of a Woman. It’s a powerful scene. But here he is, rhythm, and he’s in his zone. And what it all does is, it’s a way of being gentle with yourself. It’s your space, because each of us has got our song. Our particular music. Often a couple will say that was our particular song. You have been out to dinner with friends and then all of a sudden a song will come on and the couple will look at one another and, you know, smile. It’s special. It’ their song!
This ‘our song’ business – it creates this sense of ritual and tradition amongst us. And this is the important thing about brotherhood. We men need our rituals and traditions and music can be a vital part of that. Grego has a couple of mates and they did a lot of backpacking when they were very young fellows. They didn’t mind a beer back in the day. One of the things they had was when this Guns N’ Roses song came on called Paradise City, which they just loved, they made this little pact between themselves that whenever that song would come on, it wouldn’t matter where they were, they would go to the nearest place possible and scull a beer. Most ridiculous ritual traditional you’ve ever imagined. But when you’re 19 and 20, this is the kind of crazy stuff you did.
Have you ever been in a bar with a group of three or four mates and a spontaneous kind of a sing along starts. And you go from one song to the next and you look around, then you get home and you think, wasn’t that great? You kind of belonged. It was you felt a member of that particular group. It was like a tradition ritual. Often one song in particular, or one type of music becomes YOUR anthem individually or collectively; and that is good.
An anthem is … an anthem is the song of a group, right. It is literally what gets the hairs on the back of your head upright; Waltzing Matilda, Only 19 or The band played Waltzing Matilda! Watch the Superbowl when Star Spangled Banner is played or be trapped in the stands of Anfield as the Liverpool faithful sing, “You never walk alone!” or courageously wear green and gold at Murrayfield as the crowd sing, ‘Flower of Scotland’! It is powerful, it is anthem – it is spirit; it is us! And even when what is being sung is not YOUR anthem – when those around you are singing their anthem – it brings from within you a deep sense of awe and respect.
A mate of Pricey, Matt, was the defensive coach for the Scottish Rugby team. And he tells that when the Scots get up, they sing Flower of Scotland. It isn’t just a song. It’s much more. It goes to the heart. And those men on the field, they’ll tackle a giant after that.
So what the message here for Universal Men is that music is a tool. It’s a catalyst for creating belonging, for creating memory, for creating state change, for growing yourself, knowing yourself, and brotherhood. And a whole range of other wonderful things that make us uniquely human.
And when music’s not there in your life, go find it again. Wayne Bennett titled his book, “Don’t die with the music in you!” He based it on a quote from Dr Wayne Dyer. Everyone of us has our unique music within and around us; give it expression – dance and truly live!