When I was struggling with depression, music was the escape. It was the only thing that I felt had no judgment. Whenever I played a song, I knew it wasn’t going to yell at me for feeling anxious or disconnected from everything.
It was going to make me feel better about it.
The thing I find with music is that I never listen to a song and picture a blank sheet. When listening to a song, even for the very first time, I’m immediately drawn to something I associate with that song, whether that be a person, a place or a memory. All of which play a huge role in our mental wellbeing.
And I genuinely believe that’s the same for everyone. I know for a fact that if my mum is having a bad day she will listen to her favourite band of all time, The Beatles, and that will no doubt take her to a happier place and help her feel better. The music of The Beatles has even helped create more memories for her when she took a trip to Liverpool recently and made sure to visit The Cavern Club – the club that began the band’s success story. Not a bad mark for a band who haven’t released new music since the 1960’s to leave on someone.
As for me, there is one album in particular that was very key in the transitional period of attending therapy and the years to follow, and that album is 1989 – Taylor Swift. It’s an album I’d listen to in the car, while I was cleaning up and even when I was out on an evening run.
The lead single, ‘Shake It Off’ was hugely important to me in this difficult time. The meaning of the song is to shake off all the bad vibes, no matter what the cause. To this day, I still find it impossible to listen to that song and be in a bad mood afterwards. But during that difficult time, even if momentarily, I could shake off all the despair and let the light in.
The single ‘Shake it Off’ and album 1989 played a huge part in my first solo trip in 2015. In particular, the two tours with Kiwi Experience in New Zealand and a one week road trip tour with 19 others across California, Arizona and Nevada. Whenever I was put in charge of music for the long journeys, it wouldn’t be long before a Taylor Swift song, usually ‘Shake It Off’ was played. In doing so, I created some great memories and made some of my strongest friendships from my travels with people saying that they think of me every time they hear a Taylor Swift song.
Taylor Swift’s follow up album was released in 2017, titled Reputation. The overall meaning of the album is that as we journey through our lives and make changes to chase our dreams our reputation will change. And despite that being something out of our control, we shouldn’t let that get in the way of us pursuing happiness.
When I was depressed, very few people knew about it. It was something I was scared and ashamed to speak out about. But, after nine months of therapy which gave me a boost in confidence. I now have the attitude that I’m going to have a go at things in life. I’ve had first-hand experience of how bad it can get and I’ve lived through that and I’m stronger now because of it.
With that new outlook, my attitude changed from being a shy, anxious guy who had no desire to leave his comfort zone to someone who wants to permanently live and grow outside of it. With that, my reputation would have changed for the better, in the eyes of some, and for worse, in the eyes of others. That’s just the way life works. But am I going to let the thought of people giving me a bad reputation get in the way of me chasing happiness? Absolutely not.
With her two albums in 1989 and Reputation, Taylor Swift’s music has helped me through two distinct periods in my life, letting the light in as well handling the change in my reputation that comes with that. And last week I got to attend her show at Wembley Stadium in London.
I’ve been to a lot of gigs and festivals in my life but the Taylor Swift show was different. It was a sold-out Wembley Stadium with 75000 people in the crowd of different ages, from parents with their young children to groups of friends in their twenties. Taylor Swift created an inclusive energy with a huge crowd in a huge venue that had me feeling an unbelievable level of joy and happiness for the entire time that she was on stage and days to follow. Truly a night that I will never forget.
We all listen to music every day, and the music has the power to change and define our feelings.
In this blog post I’ve highlighted how one artist and her music has helped me out of a very difficult situation, how the music has helped me create memories with new friends around the world in situations I would have never found myself in the past, as well as creating memories with old friends in a stadium filled with 75000 strangers who are all connected through one thing: The love of music.