The End Is Near: Music as a Function of Healing

by Car Car Binks // The Feminine Musique

I could not have fathomed in February the near constant state of anxiety I would be in only six months later. I could not have imagined the feelings of loneliness, helplessness, and rage that now define my daily life. The fear that accompanies every trip outside and every viral hashtag. The anger that sits at the bottom of my stomach every time I turn on the news.

girl in red - rue

In a year where every waking moment has been marked by trauma and grief, music has remained the one constant in my life. When I sat alone in my empty apartment in March, I listened to music. When I walked along an empty Horseshoe in May, I listened to music. When I checked our state’s death total in June, I listened to music. When I sit alone in my office now, I listen to music.

The act of listening to music can both distance us from the relentless anxiety of everyday life while grounding us in something tangible. I can’t control where the virus spreads or who the next hero to die will be, but I can control what gets queued. The decision is mine to make: it can be upbeat and fun or slow and sentimental. It can be a new favorite or a classic hit. It can even be an entire album that reminds me of a better time.

Phoebe Bridgers – Savior Complex Lyrics | Genius Lyrics

I can listen to the same song eighty times in a row if I want to because sometimes I want to. I can play music that I know makes me cry because sometimes – fuck it – I want to cry. I can even play music that I don’t even like because it’s an unprecedented time and who knows what I like anymore. There is an endless amount of songs for an endless amount of emotions and experiences, and even though we are already eight months into the year, I believe we have only just scratched the surface on our collective pain.

Feminist author and activist bell hooks argues that theorizing is a way of naming her pain: “I came to theory desperate, wanting to comprehend – to grasp what was happening around and within me. Most importantly, I wanted to make the hurt go away.” What is music if not theory? We search for the songs that relate to us on our deepest and most nuanced levels; music that helps us identify what we are feeling and guides us on a path to healing. Music – like theory – makes the hurt go away, and there’s been more than enough hurt to go around.

Chloe x Halle – ROYL Lyrics | Genius Lyrics

All of this is not to say that music is a cure-all – there is no cure for what we are experiencing other than radical change – but music is uniquely positioned to provide answers to questions we didn’t even know needed asking. Listening to music can help name our pain in a way that we cannot do alone. Enjoying music can be an act of self-care in a time and place that is committed to putting our friends, families, and communities down and keeping them there. Above all, though, music can make it all hurt a little bit less and sometimes that’s enough.

Check out Car Car Binks on The Feminine Musique, every Friday from 2-4PM on WUSC!