Music isn’t just enjoyable to listen to, it also helps bring us together as individuals and speak truth to power.
Here’s a transcript of our conversation:
Brittany: Hi, Emma.
Emma: Hi, Brittany.
Brittany: So I know you and I both love music. I know. So I sing, I play the piano. I played violin for a hot second when I was younger, but I’m also a music journalist, so I get to go to music festivals and like concerts and write about it. So this has been something that I have loved since I was a child. So today I thought it would be fun to talk about music and the power it has and not only like bringing people together but just like it unites a lot of people, right? it’s a really cool superpower that exists on this planet that I think is really, really cool. So, Emma, I know that you love music too. Do you wanna tell us, like what is your connection with music?
Emma: Gosh, I mean, similar to you, I grew up playing a whole bunch of different instruments and played in the worship team at my church for years and years. band and all of that good stuff. But beyond that, even beyond my school years, I just love music. It’s one of my favorite hobbies is just finding new stuff to listen to. And especially reading into the history of music. And I, think I’ve mentioned this before, but sort of from like the sixties through the nineties, that whole era really fascinates me Cause there were so many different things that were happening with music and lots of exciting changes and new genres and all of that. So I’m a huge fan and I love talking about music’s significance to us as a culture.
Brittany: Awesome. So we have a lot then. I think you’ll have a lot to chime in with cuz we are gonna talk about a little bit about Woodstock, which I love, even though, even though I love festivals, there’s too much mud at Woodstock for me. Yes. But, ok, so the first thing I wanna touch on, we did have an episode on this so we won’t spend a whole lot of time on it though, is rock and roll, right? Rock music. So think of like the Beatles or like the Rolling Stones music that not even your parents listened to, but like your grandparents listened to. So this was like the first time music was like trying to think, not harder, but yeah, harder I guess. You know, they were guitars, they were drums, it was faster, it was, you know, all the young kids were listening to it. Well, rock and Roll helped defeat communism in Russia, the USSR. So that was really cool because the young people loved Western culture so much. They loved the rebellious spirit of rock and roll music that even though they were living under an oppressive regime like that, they had to fear for their lives in a lot of way. You know, people were being jailed for little things, but it didn’t stop them even though rock and roll was not allowed, even though this is funny too, blue jeans were not allowed cuz they were associated with rock and roll. Wow. And they, that was like a black market. They sold them underground and wore them. Anyway, so this music was so powerful that the government literally couldn’t stop it. And it tried, it like opened its own clubs where you could only listen to like old school Russian, like folk music and like German folk music back in east Berlin. So nothing they could do could stop this because the music was just too powerful. There was something about this music that inspired the kids. So even you know, a time when the world was, was falling apart, these young kids were uniting under this. And there’s this beautiful, you can, I think you can probably Google footage of this. I don’t know cause I did not try, but I’m pretty sure you can. So we talked about the Berlin Wall. Before that was this big wall erected in between, Eastern Germany and Western Germany, and Western Germany was where the West influence was there. So there was capitalism and the eastern side was very oppressive. It was still living under like the old, the old school days. It was part of the USSR. So very different just separated by this like one wall. And it was like night and day on each side. So very scary time. but when the Berlin Wall fell, even before it fell, people on the Western side would like play rock and roll music for people on the Eastern side to hear. Wow. And to just kind of make the government mad, right? Cuz they didn’t like it. But their beautiful footage I was telling you, I think you can Google is that when the wall finally came down in 1989, I was only four at the time, so I barely remember this. But when the wall came down, there were like people singing and dancing all throughout the night as they took the wall and there were bands playing, there were like concerts. And this was this beautiful moment of people from the East and the West who had to be, they weren’t enemies. Their governments were, but they were separated. Families were torn apart. And here they were just like dancing in this music and celebrating their freedom. And it’s just this beautiful moment in history. So that’s something I love since you like the whole 1960s thing. Emma, do you wanna talk to us a little bit about maybe like Woodstock and anti-war movement and stuff that was going on in the sixties?
Emma: Yeah, absolutely. Music was such a huge part of the anti-war movement of the sixties. And of course, we’re talking about the Vietnam War specifically. a lot of this was sort of generic, you know, people shouldn’t be fighting with each other. Nonviolent type. Type stuff. Yeah. Give peace a chance. But it was really sparked by the Vietnam War, which was the first war in a long time that people had to be drafted for. So you had people who saw their high school classmates get drafted and the way that it worked, it was actually really crazy. I don’t think we’ve ever talked about the draft on here. So very quickly I’ll describe.
Brittany: Oh, Connor and I did, we did a, yeah, we did an episode. Yes. Just recently actually.
Emma: Awesome. So basically people would randomly be drawn as soon as they were 18, they were eligible. And they would just be sent off to Vietnam without really any consent in that. And that was a huge deal. And I think it really opened a lot of people’s eyes to, you know, why are we going to war? What are the reasons? And it was not like World War II where there were sort of some clear, threats to our country and a really clear need to be involved. It was much more, hazy, the reasoning. And I think it got a lot of people really worried about, wow, why is our government forcing people to go fight in this war for, for no basically apparent reason to us. And it caused a ton of protest music to pop up. So the whole folk music scene of the sixties and seventies was really wrapped up with the anti-war movement and like you said, sort of peace and love and all of that stuff, and hippie, kind of the hippie movement. So when people talk about the sixties and seventies, a lot of times that’s what they’re thinking of. And one thing that I don’t love is that sort of turned into really disrespecting people who had been sent to Vietnam afterwards. Yes. And that’s something that I really am disappointed by. And I think it’s really unfortunate because like I said, a lot of those people who were sent to Vietnam had absolutely no choice in the matter. So to disrespect them is not a good thing. And I just wanna note that. But the music was a hugely powerful tool to wake people up to what was going on in Vietnam. And there were all sorts of amazing songs that came out that sort of described the realities of war and sort of the struggles of working-class people who were being drafted and sent over there while, you know, politician’s sons didn’t have to go. Fortunate Son is one of the most famous ones that said.
Brittany: Yes, that’s one of my favorite and Masters of War. Those are two of my, yeah.
Emma: Yes, Credence’s Clearwater revival. Bob Dylan was huge. And my grandparents were young at that time. They were, I wanna say like 18 to early twenties age throughout that period. And they always talk about how crazy it was being a young person and being kind of a part of that scene. They were total hippies. They loved Bob Dylan and, you know were totally part of the movement. Funny story. They were actually supposed to go to Woodstock and then they couldn’t get a ride there or something. They didn’t end up going. But yeah, they were like super wrapped up in that movement. And they always talk about just how powerful the music was for that. So I think it’s a really cool example of how, you know, when a whole culture or a whole subculture sort of comes together and says, Hey, we really care about this issue, we should try to raise more attention for it. It can be really powerful. And unfortunately, I think a lot of times in modern sort of Hollywood and music scene, it’s for stuff that’s so silly and it’s like this cancel culture stuff or this weird social justice stuff that doesn’t really make a lot of sense, or it’s not really based in fact and in reality. But it is a very powerful thing that we have at our disposal if we were to choose issues that really mattered. And to be honest, I would love to see more musicians in modern times talk about war and talk about how the United States is involved in all these wars we don’t need to be involved in. And there were a few that tried in the 2002’s. Green Day was one of them, and a few other sorts of pop-punk bands that were big at the time, but it was not very popular to do it back then. And it’s an interesting thing to see how the anti-war music has kind of evolved over the decades.
Brittany: That’s a good point. And also, okay, so not even just antiwar, there’s like the political messages, but there’s also a way connect access to other people. So I go to music festivals a lot, and the festivals that I go to are not like Woodstock, right? It’s not the rock and roll, it’s DJs and there are lasers. There’s literally like fire shooting out of the stage and everybody’s dancing. So a lot of like rock and roll, people do a little bit of dancing, but this is like, people get really into it. I even take dancing lessons to do the kind of dancing that you can do there. People get really into it. But the cool thing about it is my favorite author, Jonathan Haidt, wrote a book called The Righteous Mind. And in the book, he has a whole chapter on this music I like it because it actually is very primal. There’s something in our brains where it’s wired to do the kind of dancing I do, and I’ll explain it. So from our earliest times of being humans, we used to, and you see this in movies and you see it with like native tribes in Africa, you see them dancing around a fire right to drums. And they’re just dancing as a society, as a tribe. And they’re coming together. Well, it’s very similar at these festivals because you have these drum beats and then you have these like lasers, right? All these things for your eyes to see. And then you have the dancing. And it’s crazy to me, I have met so many friends of people I have never met before. We have nothing in common. And I guarantee you we have nothing in common. You know, sometimes they’re much younger, sometimes they’re much older than me. But while we’re at these festivals, we talk together and we dance together because it doesn’t matter because the music kind of takes over and it’s this beautiful thing. So Jonathan Haidt wrote about this, and they’ve actually done like brain scans and they’ve done all the psychology about it, where this kind of music specifically, just breaks down barriers of people feeling like they don’t belong with people. So there’s some sort of thing about it that makes people go back to those primal roots of when we were, you know, living in tribes back in the day. So that always makes me so excited because you think about it and it’s like that one little thing left over from ancient times, but it’s how we can bond with people that we don’t get along with. So in a time when we’re so divided. It’s really fun for me to go to these festivals where, again, if I saw these people every day, we probably wouldn’t agree politically. We probably wouldn’t agree on a lot of things. But when we’re at these festivals, we’re like the best of friends. And it’s so cool that it’s the music that does that. Right. It’s the music that brings us together. So for me, I mean, that’s one of my favorite parts about going to festivals and going to concerts is that for a few hours, you get to be with people who, it doesn’t matter that you agree or not. Like you’re just all dancing together and you’re in that moment living in that music. And music is so emotional. I’m sure you experience that too, but like, music can bring you to tears, you know? And so it’s this really just this experience where nothing else matters and it’s so beautiful. So I don’t know if you guys are into music. I hope you are. I actually know a few people that don’t like music. There are people out there, there’s like a room for it where they don’t resonate with music. Isn’t that sad?
Emma: That’s, very interesting to me.
Brittany: Yes, and it’s rare, but like, I have a friend here in DC who like, no, I don’t get music. And I’m like, that’s my whole life. That makes me so sad so. Yeah. So yeah, I think music is just one of the most powerful things in the world.
Emma: I completely agree with you. And I will say too, during the Pandemic when there were no live concerts, I had such a hard time because I love watching shows. It’s one of my favorite things about living in Nashville. There’s such an. Oh yes. The live music scene here and when I lived in DC before I, during the pandemic, I was really missing that. Unfortunately, once I got to Nashville, there was quite a bit more going on. That’s good. But I think we’re meant to be around other people. We’re meant to enjoy the arts in that way. And it is a cool thing where you can use it as a voice to speak up for things you believe in, or it can be something that’s not political at all that unites people. It’s pretty rare to have a medium and an art form like that. So I’m glad we can share our appreciation of music. Yes. We will wrap it up here today, guys. Thank you so much for listening. Maybe let us know what your favorite kind of music is. Yeah, I’d be curious to hear. And we will talk to you all again soon.
Brittany: Talk to you soon.