Stay Tuned

People say there’s a song for everything. For love, for loss, for growing old, and growing up. They say songs make them feel something when nothing else can—that where words leave off, music begins. But what is it about melody that’s so intoxicating? How can a stranger’s song make us want to think harder, love deeper, and live better? How is it that music always just gets it, and how much of who we are is born from what we listen to?

For me it’s always been about the beat. Not because I’m a drummer, I’m not; and not because I particularly love hard rock, I don’t. I’m addicted to the beat for a reason that’s much less musically rational and much more socially relatable—I’m addicted to the way it makes me feel. If you ask a music theorist about the role that the beat plays in a piece of music, she’ll tell you that a beat represents a basic unit of time. She’ll explain that a song’s beat is crucial to its arrangement, as the piece could not exist without some form of rhythmical boundary. But if you ask the same question of a teenager who just started his own garage band, he’ll have a much different, much simpler explanation. He’ll tell you that the beat is the pulse of a song—that is, it’s what makes it stay alive. It’s what makes us bob our heads to a Luke Bryan song, it’s what makes us play fake drums in the air with invisible sticks, as if we’re on tour with the Rolling Stones. It’s the 30 seconds leading up to the inevitable drop in every Avicii remix. The beat lets you in in a way that lyrics often can’t, and melody seldom does. It can take you back to Woodstock, or launch you into a generation yet unlived. It can soothe your soul, and make your heart race. It can ignite a flame, and douse a fire. It can teach you about an era, a people, and a moment in time. It speaks to us without words, making it the same in every language, but different in each song.

Recently, I’ve been thinking a lot about the role that music has played in my life, and more specifically, my time at Colby. Because I’m a singer, as well as a fan, I spend a lot of time focusing on what makes a song sound good. Sometimes that focus manifests itself in me collaborating with my fellow a cappella group members on an old Stevie Wonder song, and sometimes it manifests itself in my refusal to get out of the shower until I feel that I have done justice to Whitney Houston’s “I Wanna Dance With Sombody.” Regardless of the manifestation, however, one thing has remained true throughout: music has always made time for me.

This Sunday, I will be taking the Colby stage for the last time. And while I know I will continue to sing, and listen, and dance, and feel, I can’t help but wonder how my relationship with music will change once I leave this space.

They say there’s a song for everything. And while I can’t imagine that a piece of music could represent how I’m feeling right now, it’s nice to know that if I close my eyes, I will always be able to feel the rhythm of this most special place.

As I said, for me it’s always been about the beat.

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