A song can be comprised of a couple different factors. You have the instrumental part of it. Once you put the beat to a piece it becomes something your body naturally reacts to. Whether it be a fast or slow tempo, anybody can recognize a good beat and/or instrumental. You might find yourself tapping your feet, gyrating, clapping your hands, or snapping your fingers. As optional as it may be, lyrics can also be added to help make up a song. This is the message that song writers and musicians what to convey to listeners. This is the part we actually sing or rap along to. Most people repeat song lyrics daily. Words are powerfully embedded in us even as toddlers from Barney’s infamous “I love you” to the much more adult song lyrics written by R. Kelly. How can the words of any single song affect your life?
But the words you speak come from the heart—that’s what defiles you. ~ Matthew 15:18 NLT
I think back to my teenage years and the fondness that I had for rap and hip-hop music. It might not seem like it now, but I had ninety-five percent of the artists of No Limit Records’ albums. I didn’t have them for just show either. I could tell you exactly what P, Silk, and Mia X said word for word on every song. Now, R&B from the 1990’s was my music of choice. I could listen to Shai, Boyz II Men, SWV, Xscape, and Keith Sweat all day! Of course, I listened to other genres of music. My church roots kept gospel music high on my list as well.
Your emotional state and music influence each other. Whatever your mood or current circumstance dictates your choice of music at that particular moment. In return, music has the ability to make its listener feel a certain way. The expression “feel-good music” is proof. Whether it be to help cope with the pressures of life or to perk up and energize that workout, music can affect your entire mood. Some fighters have been known to listen to certain songs as added motivation for their impending match. Lots of people actually have a certain on-the-way-to-work song that they listen to in traffic to prepare mentally for that job that they need yet absolutely hate having to go to. Then there are the saddest, broken-hearted song lyrics ever which become extra relatable after a recent break-up. Classical music, though these songs lack lyrics, can be quite a mood-setter as well. Maybe you’ve seen the murder suspense in which Hollywood produced a scene for some crazed serial killer to play classical music in preparation for the inhumane act soon to be carried out on a bound and terrified victim.
Music is the art of thinking with sounds.
― Jules Combarieu
I personally found that my actions were greatly affected by what I listened to. What I realized is that for me, it was mainly the lyrics that had the greatest effect on what I would actually do. If you know me well enough that I have trusted you, then you will know that I attribute my promiscuity during my teenage years to a number of things. One being the lyrics of my favorite female rap artist at the time – Lil Kim. The lyrics I would repeat were completely inappropriate and explicit. I felt her lyrics deeply, though. Being young, naïve, and impressionable I looked at her words like they were a blueprint. Blueprint for what? I was too young to know which is exactly why I should not have been listening to her music. Now, there were plenty of lines that I could not mimic. However, it was certainly within my abilities to act out much of the sexual content that she outlined. I didn’t realize how the lyrics I quoted, though seemingly harmless, helped to shape who I thought I was.
I remember a few years back when listening to Jazmine Sullivan’s “Bust Your Windows” had me thinking that crashing my minivan into an ex’s car was the thing to do. I was upset, true. I can’t help but to wonder if I would have reacted differently had I not kept that CD fixed in my minivan’s player with that particular song on repeat? I had convinced myself that I could be as crazy as some song lyrics said that a woman should be given similar circumstances.
Now I will take you back to the last few years of my life. I listened to all different kinds of music. Music was a way to help me get through the days at work. Humming, snapping, sometimes even singing in between calls. Music blared in my ear unbeknownst to the caller on the other end of my call center calls. Still unaware of the impact that the lyrics I chanted all day had on my mood and overall behavior. Every “sad love song” as Toni Braxton would call it, would leave me extremely down and depressed at the thought of my own less than ideal love story. I can laugh about it now, but back then it was like Vivian Green said an “Emotional Rollercoaster.”.
In the beginning, God made it a point to not just blink His eyes, snap his fingers, wave a magic wand or twitch his nose. He SPOKE the entire world into existence. The truth is that there is power in the words that we speak as well. So, even when I was just singing along. I was speaking a way of living and certain attitudes over my life. 1 Peter 3:10 says, For he that will love life, and see good days, let him refrain his tongue from evil, and his lips that they speak no guile. I had to become conscience of repeating the “I’m sad, lonely, depressed and heartbroken” type of lyrics. I needed to have better control over what I heard, and consequently what I allowed to come out of my mouth. I wanted to be more careful about the lyrics that I thought about, what I fed my spirit and subsequently what was in my heart. Spiritual growth and development aside, this was also imperative for the state of my mental health.
It is not what goes into the mouth that defiles a person, but what comes out of the mouth; this defiles a person. ~ Matthew 15:11
So, I’ll never forget that afternoon in November 2017 when I was leaving work. I was preparing for my ride home, cigarette in hand as the radio blasted Cardi B. A car pulled up behind me. I had worked with this woman for almost five years having exchanged very little conversation on a personal level. She actually stopped me for no other reason but to suggest that I listen to the gospel radio station she was listening to instead. I didn’t even know there was such a station in Jacksonville. I immediately tuned in to that station, and I would never turn it back….. (to be continued)