One of the many oddly incredible things about music is the relationship between the songwriter and the listener. More specifically, a there is a relationship, despite the fact that the two people have never met and one of them is totally unaware of the other’s existence.
Like, I know I’m not alone in feeling that I know Adam Duritz or Eminem better than I know most of the people I’m actually, technically acquainted with. Good lyrics resonate with listeners in a way everyday interactions never will, simply because of how guarded people normally are. That defense mechanism isn’t there in music—an artist’s raw emotional story is there for the observing.
I’ve thought for a while that my generation will be defined by the struggle between doing things “manually” and doing them with technology, whether it be finding information, drawing, writing, or connecting with others. The way we emotionally interact with music and musicians is a microcosm of this conflict. The technology, mass distribution of everything, allows us to powerfully connect with people who will probably never know we existed. And in some ways the connection is stronger than ones we have with people who do know we exist.
So maybe equality of the involved parties isn’t the greatest measure of how meaningful a relationship is. Musicians, authors, even fictional characters can impact us in ways “real people” can’t, even when (or maybe because) information is almost exclusively flowing in one direction. The lack of immediate feedback might be what allows expressions of music or writing to be so much more emotionally open than everyday interactions. We can also identify with these expressions unashamedly, with no fear of what the songwriter or author with think of our doing so.
It’s different to think of being friends with someone you haven’t met. But all of us are.