“The Music of Your Life!”

By Larry John

I am sitting here watching a movie called Alaska, and rather than listening to the talking and the sound effects, I am listening to the music. Many people call this background music. During the beginning of a movie, credits will run telling you who wrote the musical score.  It will tell you it was written by some guy named Marvin Schwartz or something. But who the heck cares? They pay these composers a lot of money to write these scores, so this music doesn’t come cheap. Except for the main theme I dare you to sing back to me any of the music you heard unless it was already a popular song. Sure, there are some movie themes you can sing like the themes from Superman, Indiana Jones, The Sting, Batman, Rocky, The Sound of Music, Chariots of Fire, and Star Wars, to name a few but I dare you to “la la la la” to me 15 more movie themes. What is the theme music to Men in Black, All the Pretty Horses, The Man from Snowy River, White Chicks, or Halloween 3? You don’t know do you…but they all had music, lots of music. There was music every few seconds and it was all for you to get in the mood for the scene you were watching or about to see. The music gets you ready for the happy scene, and there’s courageous music for the courageous scene, scary music, hurry-up music, slow down music, fighting music, empowering music, loving music, pensive music, sad music, car chase music, new day music, suspense music, concurring music, anticipation music, peaceful music, longing music, consoling music, etc., and these are just some of the examples of music that I am listening to right now, in the last 15 minutes on this children’s movie, Alaska.  We have been trained to FEEL a certain emotion based on the MUSIC, and we don’t even hear it. Sure we “hear it” but we don’t “hear” it. It is there to be felt but not heard.  Again, I dare you to sing  back the score from anything you’ve just viewed. Unless the music is popular music that was or is popular now, you won’t remember it. This music totally controls you and your emotions, but you don’t hear it. If you want to have some fun go to a movie with some friends and after the movie is over as you are walking out say, “Man I loved the theme music and especially the background music. That Marvin Schwartz is an incredible composer.” They will look at you like you are crazy. And yet without this music the movie would have been terrible. You would have hated it. After all it was the music that helped you go through all the emotions of life during the movie. Remember it is the music that controls you. The music makes you laugh and it is the music that makes you cry.

Yet in real life, outside the movie theatre or when the TV is turned off, life goes on without music. I don’t hear music every time I get happy or sad, scared or peaceful. Do you? However, many of us use music to manipulate or change our emotions. I know as teenagers, we had to have music playing 100% of the time. If we didn’t have our music we would go crazy. And we wanted our music as loud as possible to help drown out the hundreds of voices yelling at us in our mind. Our music and the volume of our music was that which gave “emotional reason” for life. If the music was cool, we were cool. We couldn’t be cool listening to our parent’s music. We were only cool with loud Rock and Roll music shaking the walls at home or vibrating in our cars, and the need for music has never stopped. Teenagers still need it to be cool and rebellious.  But it doesn’t stop there. When I listen to classical music I feel intelligent. I don’t think that Beethoven wrote his music to make people feel intelligent, but when I hear Beethoven, I feel intelligent. The fact of the matter is that Beethoven was writing the Rock and Roll of HIS time, so when people were listening to Beethoven during Beethoven’s time they were probably feeling cool and rebellious.

I have always asked friends that if their life were a movie, what type of movie would there life be? You know, is your life a drama, musical, animated cartoon, comedy, documentary, horror flick, action, mystery, romantic, or a romantic comedy? Well maybe the type of movie your life mimics is determined by the music you are listening to. I mean it is hard to take the music from a horror movie and put it under a comedy and get the same effect? You wouldn’t want the music from a musical to be put under a serious documentary. It would change the whole idea of the movie. You wouldn’t want to be hearing There is nothing like a Dame  playing in the background while watching the lady getting stabbed to death in the shower in Psycho. You wouldn’t know whether to laugh or scream.  You wouldn’t want the theme and background music of Die Hard playing during Cinderella. It could make Cinderella look a little evil. So if music is important to the mood of movies, is music important to the mood of life? I think maybe it is. Here’s another question, what music do you hear? I don’t mean on the radio I mean in your mind. Sure, all of our moods change like the music in a movie, but we all have a “most of the time” theme that plays during our daily lives. Is your music scary? Is your music happy? Is your music dramatic? Is your music peaceful? We all have music that moves the “movie of our life.” For example, today I was in a meeting with a room full of “much too happy people” who were all smiles, all of the time, and telling each other how good life was. I could hear Don’t Worry, Be Happy  loud and clear. I think I saw one of the ladies mouthing the words to Whistle A Happy Tune.   Well, maybe not.   I don’t want to say life is not good…but to be pragmatic about it …we’re just not always happy. We don’t have to listen to the theme music to Matt Damon’s The Talented Mr. Ripley and hate life…but life is not all good and not all bad and just like a movie, your music is always changing. You ought to enjoy the different emotions. That’s what makes a movie great. We love the emotions of life. They are all good even when they are bad. But I digress.

I have a friend who is not happy unless there is a lot of drama in her life. She might be hearing the background music of Charlize Theron’s movie Monster. How can anyone be truly happy when they hear that music in their ears? Of course if you love drama in your life you wouldn’t want My Fair Lady’s, Wouldn’t it be Loverly playing in your ears. That would make life much to “loverly” and if your life is a life of serious drama that just wouldn’t do. They say that some of us march to the beat of a different drummer, but I think it is much more than just a drummer. I say it is a full orchestra. A big symphony orchestra playing the music that we want to “ACT” our life out to. Your life’s music is a drama, musical, animated cartoon, comedy, documentary, horror flick, action, mystery, romantic, romantic comedy, or a hybrid of a few. We all have the music of our lives playing in the background of our lives.

It seems so simple. Change your music, change your life. The problem is just like a movie; we are not always conscious that the music is playing and many times we don’t even hear the music even though it is always playing. You won’t be able to ACT to the script of The Jerk while listening to the music of The Godfather. As for me…I want to ACT to the theme music and background music for FOUL PLAY. I could watch that movie a thousand more times and still want to watch more.  I’m not a James Bond, Indiana Jones, Rocky, Superman, Spiderman, Rudy, Dracula, The Lion King, Sherlock Holmes, Rhett Butler, Patton, or Scarface.  That music doesn’t work for me. I love laughing too much. I also don’t want to take life that seriously. That is why my wife and I live life as if on a “permanent vacation”. As for me I just love a good romantic comedy! That’s the music I hear. And as I HEAR…SO IS IT! What about you? Think about it.


The Pragmatic Thinker