A song can pull someone out of even the deepest and darkest of places, but has every song saved somebody? Even the stupid ones? With billions of people on Earth and billions more songs, you’d think it would stand to reason that there is at least one recovering alcoholic out there saying, “the ‘Numa Numa’ song saved my life, man.”
I was curious, so I started out by asking my therapist if she had any examples from other patients of such a thing she could divulge to me without being too specific. Of course, she explained that answering my question directly would come too close to violating doctor-patient confidentiality, but she did tell me that Cotton Eye Joe has pulled enough people out of despair to be considered by top psychologists just as viable a treatment for depression as Zoloft.
So it’s true! Any song, no matter how unexpected, can connect with at least one person when they need it most. With this confirmation from an expert beneath my wings, I decided to do some independent research to further support my hypothesis.
During my weekly phone call with my dad, I asked him about the end of his first marriage.
“Was there a song that got you back up on your feet and brought you to mom?
“When my first wife left me without a word, I was in shock for months. Waking up one morning to find the person that you thought to be The One gone without a trace is something I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy. I would never have been able to get back into the dating scene and meet your mom without Froggy Went A-Courtin’. He did right and that made me believe that I could too.”
From there, I stayed on theme and asked my best friend, Angela, how she coped with her recent divorce.
“The legal battle took a toll on everyone. How did you get back to a new normal after that struggle?”
“The divorce was rough, but what really broke me was losing custody of my kids. I wouldn’t have gotten through that without Ring Around the Rosie. We all fall down, but if you have the courage to get back up, to rise from the ashes, you can overcome anything.”
To get some more perspective, I reached out to my buddy Jackson. I was lucky to have my weekly call with my dad, even if I took it for granted sometimes. Jackson didn’t have the same privilege. He lost his parents in a car accident 5 years ago.
“It was hard for a while for sure, but when I think of them now, I can’t help but smile. The Cha Cha Slide was a huge part of that. I was low, all the way to the floor, but thanks to DJ Casper, now I’m at the top and I’ll never, never stop.”
Inspired by these stories of triumph, I did some introspection and dusted off a memory I had been trying to repress for a while, but it came to me now more like an old friend I hadn’t seen in ages than as a specter from the past.
When I was 22, I narrowly survived a fire in my apartment building. I moved there from my college housing just after graduation. I was finally starting to feel like a real adult. A space that was completely mine, things that I didn’t have to share with anyone, and a feeling of true independence that I was feeling for the first time in my life. All of that and nearly more was taken from me in the blaze. I was lucky to be found hiding in my bathroom by the volunteer firefighters just in the nick of time. For the rest of that 22nd year, I was distant and cold. I felt closer to death than I did to life, but that all changed on my 23rd birthday. I don’t know what it was exactly, but when Patty and Mildred Hill wrote “Happy birthday to you. Happy birthday to you. Happy birthday, dear Chris. Happy birthday to you,” it felt like they were speaking directly to me. I finally had permission to be happy again.
This all just goes to show you that happiness, light, redemption… These things can be found even in the most unexpected of places and in the most surprising of moments. As long as we’re willing to keep our hearts, minds, and — especially, it would seem — our ears, open. So, the next time you feel lost, forlorn or alone, turn on the radio and who knows? “Di Di Di Da Di Di Do Do” could ring out like a message from God and the Hamster Dance could give you just the strength you need to persevere.