When I was 15 or so, my Dad and I were driving to some far-away destination (perhaps the Bangor airport) and a particular song came over the radio, which had been playing a steady stream of inane, familiar classic rock. My Dad (who had heard the song before) exclaimed, “Neil Diamond!” and excitedly turned up the radio.
This event was unusual for a number of contextual reasons. First, my father was (and perhaps shall always be) of a somewhat somber sort. In particular, during that period in our lives, we were dealing with a number of familial crises including financial strife and drug addiction, and although Da and I shared a bit of comfort in each other’s stalwart company, we were both pretty depressed at the time.
Second, the only music I had ever actually witnessed Da enjoying was classical or Indian music, and this was most certainly neither of those.
Suddenly we snapped out of our driving din and were paying rapt attention to ourselves and to each other. As the music swelled, a long-quiet emotion rose up in me to meet it: Joy. And with it, hope. Though I can’t remember the particular song (probably Sweet Caroline), the upbeat rhythm, melody, and heartfelt vocals caught my ear, and Da’s response caught my interest. I was immediately compelled to hear more.
Not long after that, I listened to several albums, and found that Neil Diamond’s ability to resonantly channel emotional comfort was one of the most effective cures I’d found for lifting my own mood.
Years later, having begun to study for myself the nature of resonance and psychology, I am reminded profoundly of that moment when I was introduced to the emotional influence of music. Though I had always enjoyed music (having been a devout fan of Ma and Da’s record player and selection of records, ranging from Johnny Horton to Van Morrison to Harry Belafonte to the aforementioned Indian musicals), I had not realized its ability to affect the psyche until that point in time.
Now, as I sit here contemplating writing (and even singing) my own songs, I do so with the benefit of Neil Diamond in my reflecting pool. The harmony of music enables words to resonate, and together, they can produce Truth.