Throughout the twenty-one years of my life, music has been one of my closest and constant companions. Even as I am writing this article, I have music blaring on my earbuds. It is my source of comfort, solace, and escape. Whenever life gets unbearable or challenging, I listen to music; likewise, whenever I feel happy, I listen to music. Whatever emotion I may be feeling, I can find a song or a musical piece that reflects it. This article will be an exploration of the soundtrack to my life, and I hope it captures at least a fraction of my love for music.
I grew up in a house where the radio was always on, and that is my earliest memory of music. Even though I had very few options for what I could listen to, I still enjoyed it. I would listen to all kinds of songs and often dance along. My parents have captured me in motion, swirling my blanket around and gleefully smiling at the camera. As I grew up, my love for music only increased. It was fostered by the people I met as I grew up. For instance, I remember Sundays when I was in the seventh grade when I went to a science class where the teacher would play me songs. Soon enough, I would be insisting that she play music as a reward all the time. I would strive to quickly write my notes or finish a quiz so that I could hear music, which I believe made me work even harder (my science grades improved!).
The event that changed the trajectory of my life forever was getting an iPod Shuffle for my 13th birthday. It was a tiny green thing that would soon become my most beloved possession. Every day, I would escape into imaginary worlds for hours while listening to music. It became my habit, hobby, and ritual. At school, I did not have many friends, and music was my solace, so I could not wait to go home, get my headphones on, and escape. Music never left my side, called me names, or isolated me; it healed me. In fact, I believe my iPod was the reason I stayed sane during those years. I relied on it so much that it became an extension of me. I still have it, even if it is broken. I can’t bear to part with it because it was there with me through a lot. I know I am being too sentimental over an object, and that is probably unhealthy, but I still refuse to let go.
Nowadays, using apps like Spotify and YouTube on my smartphone, listening to music is considerably simpler. I spend a significant amount of time listening to music or carefully curating playlists to match every emotion. I love discovering new songs; the joy you feel as you listen to a new song that you really vibe with is unparalleled. I’ve also found music to be a great conversation starter. When I meet people for the first time, I usually ask about what songs and artists they love and discover new music through them. As a first-year undergraduate, I have been lucky to find a few friends who’ve helped me discover new music, and it has been a great bonding experience!
The power of music in my life is particularly evident in the way that it has shaped my relationships with people. My father played a big role in instilling my love for it, and we bonded over music a lot. He would play me songs by artists like Madonna, Stevie Wonder, Westlife, the Backstreet Boys, Paul Young, Boney M, and ABBA. In turn, I’d make him listen to songs I loved, even though he unfortunately didn’t like most of them. One of the fondest memories of my father is his singing I Just Called to Say I Love You by Stevie Wonder to us. We also have impromptu concerts in our living room where all our family gets together and plays songs that we love on YouTube. We would sing along and listen to the recommendations of all of us.
My mother, too, played a role, especially in my love of song lyrics. Even today, she’d dissect the lyrics of Sinhala ballads and songs one by one and tell me while she is cooking. She becomes so passionate and excited to make her daughter understand the complexities of lyrics, and I love her for that. Quiet mornings and evenings with her in the kitchen, listening to songs on the radio while she sings and tells me the meaning of the lyrics, are some of my most cherished memories.
Another relationship in my life that music positively affected is the one with my siblings. The three of us have different tastes, but we still sometimes begrudgingly listen to each other’s favorite songs. My sister’s and mine are more aligned, and we would spend nights in bed in the dark listening to music by sharing earphones. My brother only listens to rap, even though I really tried my best to get him to like artists I like, such as Taylor Swift (the only Taylor Swift song he loves is Bad Blood, and that’s because of Kendrick Lamar!). Trips are the most fun, as we would bring our Bluetooth speaker, play our favorite songs, and sing along. Our poor parents must endure us belting out the songs at the top of our lungs—a free concert from their children, we’d say.
The soundtrack to my life would not be complete without mentioning some of my favorite artists. Their music shaped me and lifted me up when times get tough. Artists such as Taylor Swift, Lorde, Lana Del Rey, and Florence + The Machine have been particularly influential in my life. Groups such as Bleachers, The Lumineers, Imagine Dragons, Coldplay, Cigarettes After Sex, and Wallows are some of my favorites. Musicians such as Hans Zimmer (the Interstellar track anyone? OMG), Ludovico Einaudi and Max Richter are perfection! These artists and groups are but a few, and my heart aches for not mentioning them, but for the purpose of this article and to not bore you, dear reader, I thought I’d keep it short.
So, have I ever gone through a breakup? No, but I still sing along to Taylor Swift’s All Too Well and Adele’s Someone Like You as if I’d gone through the worst of them. Have I ever been in a relationship? No, but I still go a bit crazy listening to Beyonce’s Halo. Forget about emotions; think of all the songs I love but don’t understand a word of, which brings me to my next point. Think how amazing music is to move us even when we don’t know the language or even if we haven’t experienced some emotions intertwined with some experiences. Music is wondrous, to put it slightly; it heals, it soothes, and it revives. Artists and musicians are some of the most amazing people out there, and I applaud them for what they do.
I’m still on this journey, always striving to find new songs, film soundtracks, or classical pieces I’ll love. The soundtrack of my life is getting longer and longer, and I’m here absolutely loving it! Music will always be an important part of my life, and the memories associated with it and the people in it will forever be treasured by me.
Rtr. Kusali Rupasinghe
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