On Thanksgiving Day I caught a holiday special on NPR. The hour long show featured stories of Americans especially grateful for music. Each story had one or more narrator with samplings of the music that inspired them. The stories and the music touched me, and I remembered the words of the philosopher Nietzsche (himself a musician) who said: “Without music, life would be a mistake.”
Most of the NPR stories revolved around love and death. There were stories about music leading to romantic encounters that led to happy, enduring love. Other stories told how music can heal deep wounds that life inflicts on us. In one sad tale, a woman describes how she lost her true love in a cruel, untimely fashion; yet, in the end, their shared love of music saved her from despair, and in her ongoing love of music has come to feel she’s gone beyond the pains of her loss. She lives, she seemed to say, in a mental atmosphere beyond anything that death could do to her—thanks to the subtle effect of music on her consciousness.