In the past few years, I’ve written a number of articles addressing music and what it can do to heal yourself and sometimes your loved ones. If you have a friend or relative who has Alzheimer’s there’s a short documentary on what music can do for even the profoundly lost loved one.
The name of this extraordinary documentary is Alive Inside: A Story of Music and Memory. Most important of all, here is the link: http://www.netflix.com/WiMovie/70299276?trkid=13462100 If you don’t get Netflix, the whole documentary is free on You Tube. Just type in Alive Inside.
And music is a potent weapon for a number of other things. Take a moment to examine this link if any of you have a friend who is depressed or is autistic: http://henryharveybooks.com/uncategorized/music-a-potent-weapon-to-fight-autism-stroke-tinnitus-and-more/
It’s Great to Have a Tool to Help Yourself…But…You Have to Use it to Make it Work. Actually, I’m talking about me now. Having researched and written these articles does not mean they automatically save you. It’s like buying a bottle of Tylenol. It doesn’t work just sitting there in your medicine cabinet. You have to take action.
Most of you who read these blogs are aware that Pamela and I have had the triple-whammy in the past two years…actually a quadruple whammy. The very day we signed the papers to sell CrossBow, or home in Pennsylvania, I was mowing and Pam came out, her jeans soaked in blood. We went directly to the Emergency Room and that began a two year race, against uterine cancer, which we barely got through, only to be hit with a thing called lymphedema, which in most ways has been far far worse to handle…and will continue to handle. And then, to top it all off, in the middle of it all, we discovered that a hip replacement was in our very near future. It’s been a very, very, very challenging two years, and we’re in therapy now for the hip and just beginning to see the light of day.
The only extra problem was an invisible one. We had both locked-down our emotions so completely, that we had become incapable of experiencing certain emotions. Laughter and true joy were the first to go and with that, the ability to cry, or even feel the most basic emotions. We’d been running on autopilot. The other day, I’d gotten up, put the dogs out and began perking some coffee. Business as usual. And then, it really wasn’t my conscious mind that did this, but at 6:45 in the morning I logged onto my computer and found my fingers typing in instructions to go to my music library.
I typed in a single word: Puccini. For me, Puccini is where I go when my back is against the wall. If you think operas and ballet are the things of Bugs Bunny cartoons, you’ve missed a lot. For me, it’s the most powerful tool to get past the 450 barriers and walls I have up in my brain. It cuts through everything. I put on La Boheme, probably his best and most famous of Puccini’s creations. and like a zombie just sat there, emotionless as the arias began. And then, tears started running. As a guy (we aren’t supposed to express grief, you know) so there’s a little muscle that holds everything back. Well…. not this time. And then I played what I know to be a big handful of songs that do about the same thing. Splinters, I guess you’d say psychic splinters began coming out one by one. There were a lot of them.
I don’t expect you have the same group of songs, they can be anything, though for me, of the many thousands of songs, Puccini has distilled it perfectly…….for me. I’d be curious to know what songs YOU go to, to cry, to feel like you just might make it after all, to laugh, to feel romantic, to feel loved.
Music is one of the most powerful weapons to fight back against depression that you can imagine. I speak with some authority on this topic. And I guarantee you, if you think about it, there’s a song, that can bring out any emotion I need. Try this You Tube of Mari Samuelsen: https://www.youtube.com/watch?
It may sound silly, but there are three songs that I go to if I’m about to go to battle on some plain. First one is Fanfare for the Common Man. The other two are by Russian Composers, Shostakovitch and Prokofiev. You can’t beat that triad when you have to go to do some kind of battle, literal or figurative.
If you get anything out of this article, if you know someone who has Alzheimer’s hit the link from up above. That clip will blow you away like nothing you’ve ever seen. There’s hope for getting through the barriers. It’s Music. I’m not joking.
And, to end on a lighter note, I have my own special picks of music around Christmas. At the top of the list is a young girl singing Ave Maria in a church on Christmas Eve. Hard to beat Jackie Evancho. That’s as good as it gets. And then there’s Karen Carpenter, who can kill with her voice, and ole Nat King Cole, there are a bunch. I’d like to hear your favorites, too!
We’re just about ready for Christmas now. If you know someone who has Alzheimer’s, my Christmas present to you is that link. It works…consistently.
You two did a backdrop Monet for a stained glass installed at WakeMed Hospital in Cary NC a few years back … don’t remember if I told Pam or not .. that work was a result of my grief when our son died from a congenital heart defect at 2 yrs old in 1991…
I ALWAYS have music
Sure we remember you! And your advice is right on.
Love Louis Armstrong, too. Wonderful World…and for us, We Have All the Time in the World,
which is a bit ironic. It makes you realize that we really don’t…and should appreciate our loved ones while we have them.
Pam and I are down in the Asheville area and absolutely LOVING IT! We had high expectations and this place far exceeded them.
Thanks for writing.
Henry and Pamela
Man, I love to laugh and cry at the same time! Thanks for the inspiration Henry.
I’m betting you’re talking about Mari and her exquisite handling of Vivaldi. Just utterly blows my mind.
Merry Christmas/Happy Holidays.
Henry and Pamela
Tidings of Joy!
Pat and Phil
You have an heck of a lot easier task here. In my younger days, I could really butcher the spelling of Chanukah, Hanukkah, Chanuka, Harmonica. Did I get one right? Never saw a double k before this word.
Anyway, we’re thinking of you, too!
Hoping one day you can break free and come on down for a little R&R.
Big hug and Love to you, too!
Henry and Pam.
Blog: Music….that’s an easy one. 1- Hallelujah version by Jeff Buckley, though I really like Leonard Cohen. 2- Pachebel’s Canon in D-minor played loudly. 3- Copland’s Appalachian Spring and Fanfare… 4- Any Harp blues by Charlie Musselwhite.
Down loaded hundreds of 1930-1940 songs (Pat’s mom era) and put them on an iPod mini, 1″x1″, and let Pat’s mom listen to her songs through a very comfortable set of headphones. She died a few years ago at 100 and it helped with her dementia problems but then after a while, she refused to wear the headphones.
Thanks for sharing! Rufus Wainright does a good job with Hallelujah as well.
Regarding Pat’s Mom…a question: Does it only work with headphones???? Could they wire a nursing home with Sirius music and let people choose what they like?
This is an article that strikes a nerve. My mother died of dementia
a while back. She never let my father play records in the house
because she didn’t like the looks of stereo equipment and those
“ugly wires.” She became more and more isolated when she quit
Music cuts through the toughest barriers. It releases endorphins,
and lets the suppresses emotions flow.
The iPod is a wonderful break through for seniors. This should be
mandatory for every nursing home.
Merry Christmas! And loved Vivaldi.
Sorry to hear about your mom…and your dad. I have no idea why every nursing home doesn’t install, say, a Sirius radio main station, and then let each person in their room pick what they like.
Merry Christmas and yeah, Mari is terrific!