I've wanted to do a blog post on this for a long time now. In light of some recent events, I figured it was about time I tried to put my thoughts into words. We're going to do a little thinking together, okay?
Alright. Think with me about the
first time you heard a song. Pick one of your favorites and think about
everything that went through your head as you listened to the lyrics and felt
the music rush into your ears. Reflect on what was going on in your life as you
heard it. What kind of emotions come back to you? What memories appear in your
mind? How about the song itself? What about the song did you find so appealing
the first time you heard it? Was it the music? If so, what about the music? Was
it the beat? The way all the pieces came together? Was it the lyrics? If so,
what about them? Did they speak to a situation in your life? Did they resonate
with you on a deeper level? Did they teach you something? Take a minute to
answer before continuing...
So, whatever the case, we can all
agree there was some reason that the song hooked you. Something about it made
you listen again and again. Perhaps loved it immediately and played it on
repeat for hours once you found it. Perhaps you didn't think you liked it, but
when you heard it again later you realized how much you did. It doesn't matter
how it happened, what matters is that you listened to it again.
You see, the first time you hear a
song you’re more critical of it than the music you already know. The mind hears
music differently than everyday sounds. It's powerful, and releases the same ‘happy
chemicals’ in your brain that some drugs do. So it's no wonder your mind is
hesitant to let in music it doesn't recognize.
But there's a certain magic that
happens the first time you hear a song. Your mind strains harder to interpret
all of its elements. Because music has all of the crazy effects on your head
that it does, your brain craves it. It will literally pick out parts of the
song you do like, whether you like the overall music or not, just for that
feeling. Whether that means relating lyrics to real life dilemmas, causing your
foot to tap to the beat, making you smile because something reminds you of a
funny inside joke, or whatever! That's the power of the first time (that includes
other things, too—not just music). Your mind works over-time to find everything
good it can about the experience and turns it all into something. Remember, that's
no matter if you think you like it at the time or not.
There’s also a problem with the
first time. It only happens once. The word “familiarity” comes to mind. When
your brain works that hard to find
something good about a song, it will inevitably grow to be familiar with it.
Even if it's just a little bit, you've officially been exposed. Even if you
don't hear the song again for months or years, when you hear it again you'll
still have that sense that makes you say, "I feel like I've heard this
before." You still have that memory of the first time. The rush of a new
experience. It's the reason we like certain music. The mind interprets the
music a certain way, and if it finds a sufficient amount of good qualities in a
song, you'll probably catch yourself saying something like, "Hey, this is
Sometimes it takes a little time. I
can sometimes hear a new song and not like it much at all. A week later, when I
hear it again, I'll like it more. Then a week after that, the third time
around, I'll find myself wishing Youtube had an auto-replay button. Because, you
see, the mind isn't always very receptive to new things, but given some time
and exposure you'll find it can come to appreciate them even more than what
you're already familiar with.
Now that we've gotten all of this
thinking out of the way, I have a challenge for you. Go find a song or an
album, a band—something—you've only
experienced once and give it another try. I think you might be surprised by the