5 Extraordinary Lives Influenced By Music
5 Extraordinary Lives Influenced By Music
You may not get a straight answer when you ask a visionary with unwavering focus what music has done for him. Or a revolutionary, armed with just an olive branch, how music gave him the strength to stand up to bigotry and injustice. However, ask a spiritual leader the same question who doesn’t listen to music but understands its message, you may begin to get an idea.
Not all music and songs speak on an ethereal level. But pair an extraordinary song or music with an equally extraordinary individual, sparks fly and the universe bends to their will.
Tom Hanks – The Vocabulary of Loneliness
Living in 10 houses in the space of five years can cause anyone to feel displaced. Leading a vagabond existence in his teenage years, multi Academy Award winning Actor Time Hanks experienced his ‘wow’ moment in Strauss’s Also Sprach Zarathustra.
‘…going from a kid trying to figure out what’s interesting in this life to young man yearning to be an artist. I started asking myself: ‘How do I find the vocabulary for what’s rattling around in my head?’
It was after frequenting the American Conservatory Theater, Tom Hanks discovered the ‘Vocabulary of Loneliness’. This gave him an opportunity to experience plays he never knew existed. Family man Hanks admitted his first marriage to Samantha Lewes was to ‘quell the loneliness’. However, it wasn’t until his marriage to Rita Wilson, he found a person who really ‘gets him’.
Featured in Stanley Kubrick’s masterpiece 2001: A Space Odyssey, Strauss’s Also Sprach Zarathustra conjures feelings of existentialism. Perhaps it did the same for Tom Hanks when he was living a nomadic existence.
Jimmy Page – & The Skiffle King
Described by the Rolling Stone magazine as the ‘Pontiff of Power Riffing’, Jimmy Page is without any doubt one of the best guitarists of all time. The man who founded Led Zepplin apprenticed with a session guitarist in his early years. This early experience allowed him to master the science behind perfect mic placement. Hence, the fame, recognition and a repertoire of classic songs.
However, ever wondered what inspired Page? Skiffle. In his book Your Song Changed My Life by music journalist Bob Bolein, Page finally answers what inspired him to pursue music? It was an influential skiffle musician Lonnie Donegan. According to Page, it was Donegan’s ‘Rock Island Line’ in 1955 that inspired countless British musicians. And Page was one of them.
“So many Brits of that age talk about skiffle music [and] Donegan was king,”
Here is a Scottish born Donegan singing about the Chicago Rock Island and Pacific Railroad Line in the 50’s influencing an entire generation of British artists. Out of which one would go on to define the genre of rock, blues and folk. If there ever was a unique set of circumstances where an artist was influenced, the Donegan-Page would be it.
Steve Jobs – I Imagine
What do you get when you put two highly creative people in a room? Imagine what Jurrasic Park, Indiana Jones and Jaws would be like without John Williams musical genius. Or Imagine what woul d Fitzgerald’s magnus opus The Great Gatsby would read like without his wife Zelda edits – Yes, she edited his works. Or maybe go a little further and Imagine how Nikola Tesla and Mark Twain’s friendship resulted in the main character of A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court being loosely based around Tesla.
And what if Steve Jobs took inspiration from John Lennon when designing his products – Imagine that. Jobs during his demonstrations admitted that he used music to come up with new product ideas. Even though Jobs listed quite a few songs, Imagine was one song that really inspired him. And if you look at the lyrics, you understand the connection between Jobs and Lennon.
You may say I’m a dreamer. But I’m not the only one.
Jobs and Lennon were creative soul mates born a decade apart. Even though they would never meet, Lennon was able to inspire Jobs through his music. This is a true testament of the power of music – its transcendent ability to inspire.
Martin Luther King – ‘Tell Them About The Dream Martin!’
The Civil Rights Movement was no walk in the park. It took a magnanimous effort to bring centuries old pre dispositions to its knees. Some would say the job isn’t done yet. However, one thing everyone can agree on is that bigotry and systematic exclusion of minorities was dealt a major blow on the afternoon of Aug 28, 1963.
Dr. King was a strong individual who inspired millions. However, sometimes even strong people need some support. At the height of the Civil Rights Movement when the opposition was using every tool to quell this movement, Rev. CT Vivian recalls Dr. King singing ‘Balm in Gilead’ with his eyes closed.
There is balm in Gilead,
To make the wounded whole
There’s power enough in heaven
To cure a sin-sick soul
Since the beginning, music has been used to inspire and motivate. And it comes as no surprise when one of the most important movements of the twentieth century needed a ‘war’ song from a traditional African American spiritual that offers salvation through Jesus Christ. Even though the ‘balm’ has done some healing over the years, the disease of racism won’t be cured unless the mind follows.
Dalai Lama – The Message
It takes an extraordinary individual to appreciate the message behind music. This is done by adopting a panoramic view and understanding the effect it can have on the masses. Before a One World Concert in the Carrier Dome in 2012, Dalai Lama was asked what kind of music or song he liked the most. To which he had a simple answer.
‘I am not much interested in music and these things. At the same time, I respect and admire them‘
He also added, artists today have the opportunity to reach millions. Through their music they can send a strong message of peace and conciliation. This act alone can solve most conflicts in the world today.
Music Speaks. Music Inspires. Music Teaches. Music Restores Faith. A chameleon by nature, music has the power to create moments, transcend limits and elevate an individual beyond his/her talent and abilities. These harmonious sequences of notes do much more than just entertain or help relax and unwind.
Some use it to invent innovative products while others use it to spread peace. Either way, every soul on this planet needs to have a personal soundtrack. For the biggest tragedy would be to waddle through life without a purpose flowing through your veins and a song in your heart.