If you think about it, it should be self-explanatory. We have have had a number of them, in our lives.
Impactful songs are those that trigger deep emotional reactions.
The reaction is so strong that it often comes in a physical form, such as tears, shivers, smile, laughter, hoot, and fist in the air. Some leave such strong impressions, that years later not only do we remember when we first heard it, where we were and what our immediate reactions might have been. Some people describe that experience as life-changing.
My assumption is that most people in developed societies have encountered at least a handful of impactful songs in their lives. But for some of us are more passionate and are actively looking for those impactful songs.
Then there are some of us who are makers of music, and our primary motivation is to create impacts through our creation. That motivation may sound quite similar to the stereotypical “I wanna create hit songs” mentality — but the difference here is that for impact-driven musicians, more is not necessarily better. Depth and strength of the impact on listeners is weighed as much, if not more, than how many ears the music reaches.
Which brings us back to the point of view of listeners. We musicians can easily inflate our head to think that it’s all up to us — if we concoct songs, performances, productions, recordings well enough, then we’ll create these impacts. We cannot. Listeners take as big, and possibly bigger, role in creating the listening experience and making it impactful to their heart and soul. One could be listening to the greatest reading of Beethoven’s 5th but it s/he isn’t paying attention or hasn’t had life experience/emotional temperament that connects to that piece of music, the impact isn’t there.
So an impactful music experience is made through connecting music/musicians with the right audience, and together they create the impacts. The listeners’ lives are enriched or changed for the better, and the feedback from that listening experience energizes the creators to create more. The positive cycle emerges, and everybody involved is happy. 🙂
The mission of ImpactfulSongs.com is to bring together a community of musicians and listeners who are impact-driven, to make a world more fertile place for the above cycle. I intend to pursue this goal by sharing my personal accounts of music that’s been impactful in life, and my theories/observations about how musicians and fans can go about creating (or encourage creation of) impactful music.
Photo: Olivia Alcock
Sometimes I find that one of the most impactful emotional reactions I can get from a song is nostalgia. When I hear a song I used to listen to a lot during a specific point in my life, it can sometimes bring me back to my childhood – to the times when I first listened to the song. Occasionally, this transcends the actual meaning of the song and gives it a new meaning to me as that song will always remind me of a specific scene in my life.
When I’m having a rough day or I’m feeling stressed, I can go back and listen to some of the songs that remind me why I do what I do and why I love listening to (and more so, creating) music, because it reminds me of a time a while ago when I wasn’t so stressed out, and usually this really gets me back on track.
I don’t know if other people get the same reactions from some songs as I do, but I think writing on the power of nostalgic songs would make for a good post on your blog, Ari.
Great points Aaron, and addressing the power of nostalgia has crossed my mind — I’m sure I’ll get around to it some time. It is my theory that our mind is more open during the formative years of mid-teens to perhaps early twenties, when the music we soak up seem to define our musical taste for the following years. There are songs I heard then, that if I were to encounter now I would totally not get — but back then it worked for me and thus they still take up places in my heart.
But that’s also more on the side of the listener’s state than the power of the song. True that the song has to be quite decent to make that impact, but in these situations the listener may be doing more of the heavy-lifting than the song. So to be honest I’m not sure what, from the songwriting point of view, we can explore to connect to someone’s nostalgia, other than creating a revisionist art with a manipulative intention to capitalize on nostalgia. I may be a bit harsh in saying that, but while we’re always influenced by the past, I don’t believe in being a revisionist either.
Anyway, I’m sure I’ll write about nostalgia one of these days. Thanks for suggesting that.