The musician is a healer, and a way we’ll make it through

I cried on the dancefloor and it felt great

Rachel M. Murray
Human Parts


Image from Cristoph’s show in Brooklyn, NY Feb. 2022 by me

I cried last night on the dance floor, and it felt great. It wasn’t just the news, personal stressors, or many things. Or that in the past recent memory, that live music didn’t happen.

It just couldn’t happen. We needed it to happen, and it couldn’t. All the live streams from people’s bedrooms and studios — the past few years have felt bizarre for musicians when their gift, their passion, is to perform. To be unable to play music or share the experience with others must have felt beyond frustrating. It must have felt crushing.

But I heard music last night and felt dancing and people connecting to the music and realized how the category of ‘musician is a performer’ misses all of it. They’re healers, first and foremost. They allow us to heal our souls with their craft. I’ve seen it happen to myself, and I’ve seen it happen to others.

At our essence, we all need healing. We all suffer pain, loss, guilt, fear. (Fear especially). And the kind of healing that comes from music is something we need to highlight in navigating the future because we desperately need it.

There is something otherworldly when music and light combine in live dance music. The combination of visual effects and a good sound system, and an experienced professional create a space in a club that is a garden. It is a place where music appears out of nowhere, bounces off the walls, swirls around us, hugs us in a way that only the emotional connection of music can provide.

There is something that comes out of a musician when they’re playing that nobody else can replace — I genuinely believe the healing that comes from live music is more than just a fun night out. We are spiritual creatures, even if we don’t have a sense of religion. That spirituality is expressed in music and is an affirmation of how much we need to connect with others to connect to ourselves, to understand and heal ourselves. We need to connect to a higher purpose and our sense of wonder at the beauty of reality. And while most art forms can move us deeply, there is something revolutionary about the power of music. Late at night, listening to music falling asleep is likely a solitary experience.

You are in your head, listening, experiencing a bond with an artist who has dedicated their time to craft something. Artists create interlocking layers of melodies, snippets of the past reworked, glimpses of a future that promises the goodness that comes out of us. And that gives us a sense of wonder and reminds us of the wonder we had as children that we often struggle to experience again as adults.

Image from Cristoph’s show in Brooklyn, NY Feb. 2022 by me

That sense of wonder can appear again, in a dark room with loud bass, with neon companions, with a few hundreds of your newest friends. It comes when you hear a track you fell in love with and suddenly recognize that it’s playing. It comes when you see the smiles and raised-up hands and the way people dance before the drop of a beat. It comes when the lights come on stronger and hit at the notes at all the right crescendos. It comes when you see a small group in the back away from the main dance floor dancing in unison, one girl cheering the group, “Yass! Yaaaaa!” It comes when a group of friends hugs each other, swaying in time, connecting with the wonder we had falling asleep to music, but now together. It comes when you see a DJ playing music and his grin wide across his face as the crowd responds, stopping to clap at us (Cristoph, you’re a godsend. Truly.)

It comes together when we experience the sounds we heard when we were alone and have them experience together again. Always together — music is, most of all, a reminder that we are by default a species that requires together.

No doubt there are great articles explaining the neurochemistry of what happens with melodies, of how everything seems richer with a soundtrack that hints, and what life feels like when it has meaning and joy. I think that’s why at one moment I started crying and could see a few other people on the dance floor lost in this beautiful, wonderful moment of healing. One man with his eyes closed, slowly swaying. Watching healing from listening to music and hearing it live gave me healing.

For some reason, I was crying, but I couldn’t be happier.

The musician is a healer. They give us so much of what matters in life. I hope they all know how much that healing is vital for us. I hope they see what a gift it is they give us. Perhaps when we see artists as healers of souls, we’ll navigate to understanding that the arts are the infrastructure of us as a collective — an expression of wonder, of what makes us connect and heal, and what we can build in beautiful futures.