This post–and indeed, this concept–might seem kind of odd, but to make an incredible understatement, music is a central and key component in my life.
For me, music is a stimming (self-soothing) strategy. When I’m stressed, nearing a meltdown, or recovering from a meltdown, I listen to, play, or sing along to music.
Music is also a Special Interest subject. While I couldn’t necessarily recite rote-memorized information about classical periods or individual composers, I’m pretty familiar with a fair amount of artists and songs from a wide variety of genres and over the past nearly-20 years, I’ve collected almost 7TB (terabytes) of music in MP3 format, organizing them meticulously in layers of folders and subfolders on my hard drive. I will probably write in more detail about this in a future post. 🙂
Also, because like many Aspies, I feel complex emotions very deeply, so deeply so that I often have a tough time pinning them down and/or expressing them to others, music serves as a convenient, concise method of communication. I’ve often turned to my partner or other close friend in my Inner Circle and said, “OK, this song right here? Sums up everything I’m feeling. Just feel the music. It fits my state of mind perfectly.” I’m not sure how well this works, what goes on inside their minds when I do this, but nobody has objected.
I often organize my music into different “themes”. In a parallel universe, I’m probably one of those people who creates a variety of themed “Various Artists” CDs/collections of songs that all center on one theme. For example, a “breakup songs” CD, a “road trip soundtrack”, or a meditation playlist…you get the idea.
Naturally, as I progressed through my autism spectrum discovery and progressed through the process, I began to do a lot of….well, processing. Processing of information, realization, memories, emotions, awakening, and indeed, identity. Because this undertaking generated powerful thoughts and emotions, music automatically played a vital role. My mind went to work immediately, drawing associations, searching for the right combination of key signature, instrumentation, tempo, genre, lyrics as applicable, and general mood, to match as closely as possible what I was thinking and feeling at various points in the journey so far.
Here’s one beginner’s song list, as it relates to my Asperger’s journey so far and the crests and troughs of moods and emotions I have experienced. Each song on this list was chosen for any one or combination of a variety of reasons; maybe the music bears an uncanny resemblance to an emotion, or perhaps a lyrical passage expressed one of my own thoughts exceptionally eloquently. Or maybe a song has proven to be therapeutic for me in some way, or perhaps I could relate to the song/singer particularly well, or some other feature along those lines.
Some notes: I’ve linked to videos of each song; all links are in-tact as of today, and all were completely ad-free, at least on my screen. Since “live” versions can be assaulting to the senses and can distort the music/singing, I’ve chosen only decent-quality studio/album versions of each song where possible, even if that choice resulted in a less-interesting video. 🙂
“Mad World” by Gary Jules
“If You Could Read My Mind” by Gordon Lightfoot
“Dreamland” by Saint Low
“Alone” by Colin Newman
“Enjoy the Silence” by Depeche Mode
“In the Waiting Line” by Zero 7
“Mmm Mmm Mmm Mmm” by Crash Test Dummies
“People Are Strange” by The Doors
“Stereo” by The Watchmen
“Everything Is Automatic” by Matthew Good
“Maybelle” by Ida
“Would” by Alice In Chains
“You’re Standing On My Neck” by Splendora (Theme song to MTV’s “Daria” series)
“Around the Sun” by R.E.M.
Maybe at some point I may either edit this post or write a follow-up post to explain what each of these songs has meant to me in terms of learning about my Aspie-ism and why I included it on this list. If you’d like me to write such a post, please feel free to let me know in the comments. 🙂
If you’re also into music, and you have found any songs to be helpful, therapeutic, or expressive of your thoughts, feelings, realizations, etc, I’d love to hear from you! Please feel free to add to this list in the comments 🙂