Music: How do you choose yours and what does it do for you?

If there’s one thing in which everyone takes ownership, it’s music. There is some fundamental part of music that people connect with: Some take comfort in lyrics that put words to emotions they can’t express themselves, others like to get lost in an entrancing beat. In my case, like many others’, my preferences were broadened in high school, and again in college, but overall they are growing more decisive and structured with time.

What’s really interesting to me, though, is how those tastes develop in the first place. I’ve had a penchant for classic rock, Paul Simon, and Michael Jackson from an early age thanks to my parents’ extensive record collection I grew up listening to. The first song I ever learned by heart (and the last – if you talk to anyone who’s spent time with me, they can attest to my constant fudging of lyrics) was Chantilly Lace, a song by the late Big Bopper, about a broke young guy whose (call) girl won’t go out with him. So there’s an early parental influence.

And beyond the question of how and when our tastes develop, it’s fun to think of the power of music. In an article in Psychology Today, Amy Fries says, “Many people tap into music both to inspire their imagination and boost their energy levels.” And it’s true, think of how much easier it is to stick with a workout or get through a tough post when you’ve got just the right blend of music to pull you through.

Music also inspires us to do more, to give more – think of the One campaign concert from a few years ago, or the Katrina and Haiti relief concerts. The Playing for Change foundation is an awesome group of musicians from all over the world who are working together for global justice and peace causes, and they use social media to promote themselves.

What have been the strongest musical influences in your life? Has one song or artist ever changed you, or inspired you to do more?

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