The Emotional Connection We Have to Music – and Why I’m a “Music Photographer”
Updated: Jan 2
Leaves fall, the sun sets early, the cold seeps in. The beginning of ‘depression season’ as some call it. Fall can be rough, and a few years ago for me, going through one of the toughest times in my life, the cold didn’t just seep, but rather rushed in.
I had never been that into music. The only music I had listened to had been off friends’ playlists on Spotify. I never tried to find my own music, my own that I could connect to. During a dark November, a friend sent me a film. A short film online called ‘Thunder Road.’ It was a film directly connecting a song with the memories a man had with his mother at her funeral. The film really introduced me to the power of music and what it means for people.
‘Thunder Road’, as with most music, is a song that is different for everyone. It is recognized as one of the greatest songs from one of the greatest artists of all time. Someone who helped give a voice to America. Everyone knows what they think of when they hear Springsteen.
Fast forward to this year, the leaves have been falling for about a week. This morning, I stepped outside and had to turn around to run back inside and grab a jacket for the first time in months. And as I was procrastinating from doing my homework one night, a video popped up on YouTube. It was Bruce Springsteen, telling the story of ‘Thunder Road’ on VH1.
Bruce explained, “I was trying to get that feeling so people would wanna go chase it. You wanna make someone feel something so they’ll go in their own lives and chase that thing.” That fall years ago I had found my own ‘Thunder Road,’ figuring out what it was to grow up and find who I am. Driving down a beach road the day before thanksgiving, during a nasty storm, 45 minutes out to the lighthouse at the end of Duxbury Beach. No one but myself and Bruce to keep me company. I blasted that song and belted out “woaaaoo thunder road.”
I took those emotions, those notes, those lyrics, and put them directly into the photos I took then, whether I knew it or not. That day a seed was planted, one that would take years to bloom. I had started driving down that road.
I sit here now, listening to the song, getting chills every time he gracefully pounds that piano at “roll down the window and let the wind blow back your hair.” Every time I shoot photos for a concert, band or people in my life, I know it’s what I’m supposed to be doing. There’s no better feeling than bridging that connection between the momentary and the forever through the release of a shutter. Capturing that pure joy, sadness, nervousness, pride, comfortability, uncomfortability, whatever it may be.
We’re all creating our own thunder road, I hope you don’t let a little rain keep you from rolling down those windows. It's the right road for you, just keep driving.
Which brings up my next point, "And if you don't know where you're going Any road will take you there" ('Any Road', George Harrison). More on that later...
Some of my favorite versions of 'Thunder Road'
More about Ben M. Collins