M. SCOTT MORRIS: Music digs down deep into the mind



This is the audience participation portion of today’s column, so take a moment to think about your favorite music.

It could be a song played at your prom, or something your grandkids introduced you to. Maybe it’s a full album, or a particular performer or band.

Got it?


Hold what you’ve got.

I’ve been trying to write about music for four weeks, but nothing was worthy of publication in the Mighty Daily Journal, no matter how many clever – or clever-seeming – words I strung together about the soundtrack of my life.

I carried this low-level frustration until reading a Los Angeles Times review of a new documentary, “Alive Inside.”

A man named Dan Cohen discovered something that should resonate with anyone who took today’s audience participation seriously.

Cohen visits dementia patients, finds out their favorite music, then plays it for them.

The following comes from Kenneth Turan’s review:

“And there is Henry, who goes from catatonic to effusive, speaking not just sentences but entire paragraphs, telling the world, ‘I’m crazy about music. Cab Calloway is my No. 1 guy,’ before going into a perfect imitation of Calloway’s patter.

“‘Henry has been quickened, brought to life,’ explains best-selling author Dr. Oliver Sacks, whose books include ‘Musicophilia: Tales of Music and the Brain’ and who explains the part of the mind that deals with music is the last to fall victim to dementia. ‘Music is a back door to the mind,’ Sacks explains. ‘Henry has reacquired his identity for a while.’”




Music digs deep into our gray matter, where it hides and waits to be triggered, and we don’t have to be dementia patients to experience the effect.

I occasionally buy soundtracks to favorite movies. My assortment includes “Garden State,” “Once,” “Punch-Drunk Love,” “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind” and “Stranger than Fiction.”

They’ve carved grooves into my mind. I sometimes sing or hum along, which usually isn’t a problem because listening is a private pleasure.

But one time an album I already loved became a soundtrack.

“Everything that Happens will Happen Today” is a collaboration between Brian Eno and David Byrne. It was a gift from former Mighty Daily Journal photographer C. Todd Sherman.

I can’t tell you how often I’ve listened to it. The number would be staggering. I’m listening to it now – “Sweet, smart and sexy, the day my life began …”

Oliver Stone used many of the songs for “Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps.”

I’m usually a conscientious moviegoer, who doesn’t text or talk on the phone in the theater, but every time an “Everything that Happens” song played, my wife had to shush me to stop my singing.

It was a weird, embarrassing experience, but how could I doubt music’s effect on Cab Calloway’s No. 1 fan?

Maybe now you see the value of today’s audience participation.

M. Scott Morris is a Daily Journal feature writer. Contact him at (662) 678-1589 or scott.morris@journalinc.com.

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