If you are cool, you already know what this post is going to be about.
I read this fascinating book a few years ago by Oliver Sacks called Musicophilia. It’s a sizable book full of odd-ball stories revolving around people’s love for music. -philia means “love for” in Latin.
I read it well after I was diagnosed as bipolar, and by the time I read it, my medicine was under control. More on that shortly.
Sack told one story in which a man had gone for a run, and a thunderstorm had formed out of nowhere. This was before cell phones, so he ran to the nearest pay phone to call his wife about his whereabouts. Well, lighting struck the pay phone while the man was holding the phone. He was, of course, electrocuted, but he survived.
While he recovered, he discovered this newfound affinity for music. He had never played any instruments, and he didn’t have a noteworthy appreciation for it before his accident.
This is where the story gets crazy.
Out of nowhere this guy learned how to play the piano proficiently. Not just well; he started to play complex music on the level of professionals. There are more details, but I don’t remember them off the top of my head.
Sacks also tells numerous stories about people who are epileptic. The story that stuck out to me is one about people who take Lamictal, the drug I use for a mood lifter. It’s first use was for people with epilepsy, and it is still being used for those purposes I learned recently.
Sacks writes that some people who take this medicine develop a deep appreciation for music, out of thin air. I read this story and discerned my love for music came about sometime after I started taking Lamictal.
Growing up, I always liked music, but you wouldn’t necessarily catch me jamming out to Beethoven or Mozart. In college, I studied whilst listening to those two composers, not to mention I sometimes exercised with them in my ears.
In college, I also came to love Hans Zimmer, who does film scores. I don’t think I ever fully appreciated movie scores until after I was diagnosed. Now I’m a bit of a snob. *Apologetic grin*
I’ve told people this story, and the general consensus is that it’s fascinating. I find it fascinating, of course, but also a little spooky because I wonder what other personality traits my medicine effects. *Shoulder shrug*
Honestly, I don’t think I’m too much different in terms of likes and preferences since I started taking my crazy pills, as I so fondly refer to them. But the music thing is definitely a change.
I liked music before, but now music moves me.
I love listening to music while I read. I’ll be reading something and suddenly get chills up and down my arms and legs (which is really uncomfortable when I’ve just shaved). This phenomenon causes me to disengage from my book to assess what changed in my environment.
More often than not, it’s the music I’m listening to. “Well, shouldn’t that be obvious right away?” someone may ask.
I’ve written about my inability to multitask, and this goes for reading whilst listening to music. I’m not sure why I like having the music on because I don’t hear it most of the time, but I don’t always enjoy reading in complete silence.
I have recently learned that the music I’m listening to can enhance my experience of the book I’m reading. Let me ‘splain.
A year or so ago, I bought the entire Sherlock Holmes collection, which came in two volumes. Around this same time, I was thinking about buying another Hans Zimmer soundtrack. I loved the ones I had, but I wanted a change.
You can sometimes find entire scores on YouTube, which means you can listen to them before deciding to buy them. I decided to listen to the soundtrack from Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight while I read some Sherlock Holmes short stories.
Random trivia fact: If Christopher Nolan directed it, Hans Zimmer more than likely (100%) did the score.
I had already read some of the Sherlock Holmes novellas, and they were kind of creepy to me, but nothing overly scary or suspenseful.
Let me tell you, the combination of listening to The Dark Knight during my reading of Sherlock Holmes was a baaaaaaaaAAAAADD idea. I was afraid to turn my lights off that night when it was time for bed. No lie.
I decided it was not prudent to buy The Dark Knight soundtrack. Instead, I bought the soundtrack from the second Robert Downey, Jr. Sherlock Holmes movie.
It is nothing short of magical to listen to Hans Zimmer’s Sherlock Holmes soundtrack while reading the original Sherlock Holmes stories.
The experience was still super creepy, but it was enjoyable at the same time. I wouldn’t recommend it for the faint of heart, though.
I am convinced Hans Zimmer at least skimmed through the stories to find inspiration for his score. I don’t know if I’ve ever felt such a sense of unity between two things.
It isn’t simply a matter of “Oh, this is quite pleasant.”
It’s the feeling of hitting a baseball on the sweet spot of the bat.
It’s the feeling of listening to gorgeous harmony.
It wasn’t just an emotional experience for me. I felt it physically, in my very core. You may think I am exaggerating. I am not. Like I said, music moves me.
One last interesting story.
I started reading The Dark Tower series by Steven King at the beginning of the year, and I guess I listened to the Sherlock Holmes soundtrack a lot during this time as well. (I still haven’t finished the series—one more book!)
No joke, whenever I hear the Sherlock Holmes soundtrack, no matter what I’m doing or reading, I am instantly transported into the world of the Dark Tower.
Once I discovered this, I of course had to foster it. I started listening to the Sherlock Holmes soundtrack exclusively during my time with the Dark Tower books.
I’ve been wondering if that particular connection will ever be severed. I almost hope not.
Author’s note: If you made it to the end of this veeeerryyy long post, congratulations! I owe you a snickerdoodle. Or a cookie of equal deliciousness.