As context for this story, you need to know that I play Clash of Clans. It’s a strategy game where you build a village then pillage other villages for loot using sassy little cartoon villagers and participate in “wars” with other villages.
The game has a chat feature, and one day I was chatting with one of my team members. We get people from all over the world, so it’s fun to learn more about them.
The person in question was named Gladiator in the game, and I knew he was a med student in Pakistan. The question I asked was, What kind of music do you listen to?
I expected a genre, or maybe an artist I’d heard of, that we could chat about. Instead, his response was the best answer I’ve ever heard, and has actually changed the way I listen to music. He replied:
I like music that makes me feel things.
Consider me bowled over with profoundness. Can you imagine a better litmus test for the music you listen to?
Music is an art form that conveys feeling at a visceral level. Whether it’s nostalgia for a time in your life when you first heard that song, or one you played it over and over, or if it’s the words and the tune of the song itself that tug at your heartstrings, isn’t that the magic of music? To give words and melody to the human experience—both for the artist who creates it, and for everyone forever after who resonates with it?
I think I’d been listening to music rather unintentionally, but Gladiator’s simple answer shifted my paradigm. I took it one step further, and even started collecting music for specific feelings I want to hear and feel: Which music makes me feel relaxed? Which music makes me feel energized? Which music helps me feel focused while I’m working? Which music makes me feel sleepy? Which music feels like a soothing balm when my heart is aching? Which music makes me feel like everything is going to be OK?
I created a whole new set of playlists based on my answers to these questions. And I’ve used this as a tool to become more discerning about which feelings I want to invite into my day. I removed some songs from the rotation if they were simply catchy, but shallow. And I have a renewed connection to some old favorites. All around, my music collection is so much more beautiful, loved and useful now.
I’d love to hear what if this resonates with you! And if you have music recommendations, let me know in the comments.