Wrapping the Mind Around Music

Piano man and Billy Joel fan Alex Hitrick explains why music is so inspiring to a captive audience worldwide both to the musician and the listener.

If music be the food of love, play on.

William Shakespeare

It was on September 4, 1971, that “Smoke on the Water”, the signature song by the band Deep Purple was conceived through a tragic accidental gunshot flare fired by a fan.

On Sept. 4, a member of the audience fired a flare gun during a Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention show, as reported by LA Weekly. The old casino in Montreux, Switzerland overlooking Lake Geneva burned to the ground.

No one was hurt, but Deep Purple was planning on recording an album at the casino the next day. As smoke engulfed the casino, the band watched it burn down, and “Smoke on the Water” was born.


Inspiration and the feelings that are born out of them are sometimes the results of tragedies. Music is heavily influenced by emotions of love and loss.

Music has benefits for the listener too. Medical News Today suggested that music can be a coping mechanism for people facing stress and anxiety and even for those with Alzheimer’s Disease.

The Mayo Clinic reported that memories associated with music are often preserved for people with Alzheimer’s Disease and other forms of dementia because the key areas of the brain linked to music are undamaged by the disease.

Music benefits everyone, from caregivers who when listening to music to reduce anxiety and stress, provides a way to connect with loved ones, to partners for cultivating romantic interest, to those who are focusing on their next school exam.

I love music. It makes sense to me as a listener and is one of the ways I can get through the day besides writing stories and drawing pictures and comic book creations. Music tells stories. We as a human species crave stories.

And when I was thrown into the behavioral health inpatient ward of a major medical institution in Washington, D.C. due to a mental illness, one of the coping mechanisms was music therapy.

Music therapy was first introduced to military hospitals in 1945 to help World War Two veterans recover from their wartime experiences. According to the Cleveland Clinic, music therapy has many benefits:

  • Lowers blood pressure
  • Improves memory
  • Enhances communication and social skills
  • Encourages self-reflection
  • Reduces muscle tension
  • Self-regulates thoughts and emotions
  • Increases motivation
  • Manages pain
  • Increases joy

Whether you sing in a choir or a band like Deep Purple; whether you sing in the shower or sing at Carnegie Hall; or whether you are a tenor or a soprano, music can change your life.

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