“Time can bring you down, time can bend your knees.
Time can break your heart, have you begging please.
Beyond the door there’s peace I’m sure,
And I know there’ll be no more tears in heaven.”
These lyrics were penned in response to tragedy, when guitarist Eric Clapton’s son Conor fell to his death from a New York high-rise window. The music helped him heal.
In 1994 the city of Sarajevo was daily under siege. Mortars and artillery fire instantly transformed once beautiful buildings into rubble. Sarajevo’s citizens were frightened, weary and increasingly despondent. Then, one February day, a mortar shell exploded in the market killing 68 civilians. Many more were wounded and maimed from the blast.
A cellist with the Sarajevo symphony could no longer stand the chaos. He took his cello to the market, sat down amidst the rubble and played a concert. When he finished, he simply took up his instrument and left.
Every day, for 67 days, he came to the market. Every day he played a concert. It was his gift to the city. He did it because he felt his community must find a way to survive, and music can bring hope.
Music is a great gift. When I need to start my day in the right frame of mind, sometimes I’ll sing. Music aligns my thoughts and emotions; my mind and spirit. When I awake in the middle of the night, I go back to sleep best if I sing in my head. Music calms and centers. When I find myself experiencing a moment of happiness, I’ll sometimes sing out loud. (It works best when others are not present.) Music expresses joy like nothing else can.
One of the greatest cellists of all time was Pablo Casals. He exiled himself from his native Spain during the regime of Francisco Franco and became a world citizen and a great humanitarian. Casals passionately desired that the world exist in peace and harmony. He said once that if all the orchestras in the world were to play Beethoven’s 9th Symphony simultaneously, then peace would come to the world.
I wonder if that is true. But if not peace, then perhaps joy might come. Or hope. Or healing.
It’s the gift of music.