Alive Through Sound: The Power of Music

By: JoAnn Snavely

The other day, I was driving down the interstate with my windows down and radio up. The song, “Make Out” by The Greeting Committee played, and I received a visceral response to the song. From the opening chord, I felt my mood change and had so many feelings I couldn’t do anything but smile and want to scream at the same time. As cheesy as that may be, it’s true. Those simple guitar chords and vocals turned my dull drive home into something so exciting and memorable–memorable enough for this article to be born.

I’m not sure if you can tell by the past few months of articles, but I love music–almost to a fault. I find everything I can within music and have spent the past school year *almost* exclusively writing about music, so what better way to begin my final semester at the Herald than to tell the ‘why’–to tell the ‘why’ behind my passion for music and the reason I tell the stories I do about it.

I wish I could say that I’ve been obsessed with music and that I was born with a guitar in hand or something cheesy like that, but it simply wouldn’t be true. I grew up primarily listening to music at church during choir worship, paired with the occasional Jimmy Buffet song that played on 100.7 on the weekends with my dad. I never even really listened to mainstream radio until I was about 7 years old. That began on a bus ride home when I discovered Raleigh’s local iHeartRadio station (105.1). I would then make it my primary goal to have my mom play those stations at any opportunity. I jumped into the mainstream music bandwagon by exclusively listening to Taylor Swift, Adele or anyone else in the Hot 100. 

That all changed very quickly once I got my first phone in the 6th grade. I discovered the endless world of Apple Music and learned that there was other music outside of what played on the radio (crazy, right?). These early stages of my music journey were still rather embarrassing, and I wouldn’t come into my own until I ended my middle school career. This was when I discovered a band called Wallows, and my music journey was quick-started from there. Even then, I had lapses in judgment (NF and Yungblud I’m looking at you) as far as my taste evolved, but I quickly found my own. I fell down the rabbit hole of the indie genre and no matter how much I dabbled into other genres, indie would always hold a primary place in my heart. There was something about those upbeat instrumentals and funky lyricism that had me hooked for life. I became obsessed with music and it quickly became an essential part of my day-to-day life.

It became a staple for me. I went nowhere without an airpod in ear. I turned every hobby of mine into something relating to music, whether curating playlists, or playing music, or watching videos of my favorite artists. I loved it. Almost every waking moment, I spend thinking about music. Music was and still is the thing there for me in my darkest times; it’s the background to my fondest memories and is the way I associate my feelings. It reminds me we’re not alone–whether we’re happy, sad, or embracing any unfamiliar emotions. Someone’s been there and done that (take Mr. Worldwide for example) and written a song about it.

Music’s grip on me would soon strengthen on a fateful Sunday in 2020. On 02/23/2020 I attended my first live show EVER. I remember it so vividly (probably because it was only 3 years ago, but still), I had convinced my mom to buy me VIP tickets to see Wallows in honor of their debut album. I was filled with anxiety and nerves to meet the band that began my love for music, and even to see them live was a concept that blew my mind. If you couldn’t guess, that live show only furthered my infatuation with music. I truly believe it was an experience incomparable to anything else in the world. One thing was clear, I had to see more live shows, and I bought tickets to every show I could get my grimey little freshman hands on. Obviously, I was in for quite the shock when March rolled around and refunds for every concert ticket I had bought came back into my account. My dreams had to be put to a halt, one that continued like a second date that never happened, until 2022. 

My first live show back was (you’ll never guess) Wallows. I got to see them VIP on their next tour in celebration of their sophomore album, Tell Me That It’s Over. There I was, over 2 years later in an unfamiliar city all alone, but it was oddly okay. The social anxiety that plagued me over the past few years seemingly disappeared. I made one of my closest friends at that show, and as miserable as I may have been at some moments during the show, those meant nothing in the long run. I was back where I belonged, living through music, and for music. I was alive through sound.

I would go on a hiatus for a few months before I got the pleasure of attending a handful of shows to round out 2022. I attended venues that served 2000 people and ones that fit 200. I made so many memories and met so many amazing people along the way. Even now, I have a handful of shows in my repertoire before I leave for college this fall and am eager to continue watching live music away from home. 

Live music hasn’t been the only outlet that I put my love for music into. I have also put an immense amount of time (and money) into physically collecting music. I have talked about my record collection in depth quite a few times here at the Herald, but, in short, I began collecting vinyl back in 2017 and have amassed quite the collection since then. I also more recently dove into CD collecting back in early 2021. Although that collection is significantly smaller, I love it. Just being able to have my favorite musical projects in my hand and to play them out of a speaker instead of shuffling a playlist on Spotify is so special to me. It’s one of the purest forms of music, in my opinion, and I cherish it more than anything.
My journey into writing about music seemed to follow suit. On 03/25/2021, I published my first music article–ignoring my small artist article from the end of 2020. What began as a simple album review turned into a 9-page breakdown into every single song on the album. I spent hours writing about it and analyzing each individual lyric, listening to each song 15 times at minimum. Although that article is inarguably not my best–I found my niche. I found out how putting my thoughts on music into words came naturally to me. Those lyrics I listened to on a daily basis held so much meaning and having an outlet to interpret them in any way I could was and still is so freeing. It was already a vital part of my life, so why not write about it too? I always loved writing, but I quickly became miserable writing about random topics or politics once a week. Those articles were fun, but were incomparable to the joy I felt in simply writing about music. It unlocked a part of my brain that had been locked up for years; I fell back in love with writing, and I learned that I was able to knock out a music article in a matter of minutes. (This article so far has taken about 30 minutes to write). 

I started small, doing album reviews and genre breakdowns, but I fully dove into music when I began the “Alive Through Sound” series that I am writing within now. I took my love for live music and wrote about the magical experiences I had at those shows. I quickly knew I had to go deeper. I began my “Spotlight on Rising Stars” series where I was able to speak to my favorite musicians and interview them about the most important thing to me: music. Asking about my favorite songs and learning the tales of woe and triumph hidden within the stanzas of each song is enchanting to me, and I am graced to have the honor to break down the rhetoric within music. 

Music is powerful, there is something for everyone to be found through music (unless you’re insane). Music is so important, not just to me, but as a society, it defines us. It is embedded in our history and is reflective of the happenings of the world. We are nothing without music, and I simply wouldn’t be where I am today without it.

‘Alive through Sound’ Series

This is the seventh installment of the ‘Alive through Sound’ series at the herald. Check out the last article in the series ‘Alive Through Sound: Songs for the Class of 2023’ where I curated a playlist perfect for the Class of 2023. I can’t wait to continue this series as it broadens its reaches and blossoms into something new each week.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s