I remember the first time I felt it. It was in 8th grade, when a friend of mine put a certain 45 on his turntable.
I felt a jolt of energy and exhilaration unlike anything I had experienced before.
It was a rock and roll anthem – in this case, it was Elton John’s “Saturday Night’s Alright For Fighting“.
By the time Elton was shouting “Saturday, Saturday, Saturday“, I was hooked, and I knew it would be for the rest of my life.
Why was I so sure about that? Because my brain had been exposed to something very powerful, and life affirming.
It was pure, unadulterated joyous energy. It didn’t even matter what the song was about (although I’m glad I wasn’t paying much attention to the lyrics of “Saturday Night” – I really didn’t want to become a juvenile delinquent looking for fights every weekend).
Fast forward the clock about 3 more years, and another anthem raised the bar even higher. It was “Bohemian Rhapsody” by Queen. My friends and I predated a very similar scene in the movie “Wayne’s World” when we cruised down the streets of Milwaukee singing “Scaramouche, Scaramouche, will you do the Fandango” at the top of our lungs.
The joy of the anthem struck again.
Since then, I’ve brought other anthems into my life again and again, and they are always available when I need them (on my trusty iPod).
When I saw this video for the first time, I immediately recognized I was experiencing the “Anthem effect” – and I’m sure you saw that too (and I gotta think Chris and Scott were in that place as well).
All this joy during a rock song poses a very interesting question – Can we duplicate this feeling in “real life” when the music stops?
My answer to that is an emphatic, WHY NOT!!!
Think about YOUR favorite anthems, and visualize that feeling. Feel that joy. Why are you feeling it? Sit back and really try to understand how your brain is working at that moment. Here’s a little help, courtesy of Daniel Levitin, author of the great book “This is Your Brain On Music“:
“The rewarding and reinforcing aspects of listening to music seem, then, to be mediated by increasing dopamine levels in the nucleus accumbens, and by the cerebellum’s contribution to regulating emotion through its connections to the frontal lobe and the limbic system”
Say what? That’s the science. (I’d like to say it was a “no-brainer” to understand, but that’s truly a pun too far.)
It’s interpreted this way: Anthems tap into brain structures tied to motivation, reward, and emotion. Those songs are giving you all those things, and usually at a high volume to boot.
Motivation, reward, and emotion. Now listen to your favorite Anthem again. Feel how it pulls those three levers as you anticipate, and then experience, the crescendo (like my “Saturday, Saturday, Saturday” or “Scaramouche, Scaramouche, will you do the Fandango“).
Make your life one big anthem. Find those things that truly motivate you. Do them with verve, fine style, and passion. Then reap the rewards.
You won’t be livin’ on a prayer very long. You’ll be a rock star, producing your own Bohemian Rhapsody. And lovin’ every minute of it.
“Any way the wind blows…….” 🙂