The Immigrant Song

In previous blogs, I’ve been more than critical of guru’s claiming a numbered list of thoughts, habits or actions to be the secret formula to success and happiness. You know, the 3 to 10 things you should do to succeed in life, or at least as an entrepreneur or in a job, and why not, in a marriage, relationship or parenting. Don’t get me wrong, there might be some great advice or help in those lists but at best they are fragmented generalizations rarely worth your selective memory space. I dare you to recite any such list you have read in the last 3 months.

Why I am so critical of a numbered list has as much to do with the immeasurable but deeply unfounded disappointment in my former math teachers as with my experience that any perceived reality is far too complex, unique and situational to be reduced to a single number of rules, actions or thoughts.

Anyway, I thought 10 items on a list to be the maximum number palatable for audience and guru’s alike and 3 to be the dummies number. Imagine my luck when I came across Benjamin Hardy’s 35 things you should know before becoming successful, another well-intended contribution to the life-learning internet library. The first 33 suggestions, ranging from popular wisdom to boring platitudes, do not really differ from things you have read a hundred times. Tell me otherwise if you disagree. Reading number 34 left me bemused: The Music You Listen To Determines Your Success In Life. Plenty of you are now thinking you must have been listening to the wrong kind of music at one point in your life. Rest assured, it is never music causing misfortune: it was an iceberg, not the orchestra causing the Titanic to sink. Nor do I think the other 34 statements carry in their own right any more legitimacy to success. Hence I disqualify advice #34. It bothers me though. It suggests there is right and wrong music. Qualifying the latter as Entartete Music is just a step away.

I understand all music acts on its audience and connects to the real world but what charms one individual gives headaches to another. I am totally overwhelmed every time I listen to Ligeti’s Herbst in Warschau while others just hear dark painful ugliness. This short piece of music equals for me the auditory archetype of fall. Not just the season when thousands of leaves fall off a tree but also the fall to their demise of millions of victims of war and genocide. But that is just me: musical meaning remains vague but foremost intensely personal. The last 15 seconds of this piece always send me in a spiral of uncontrolled sorrow and awe for all human suffering. I can very well fathom this doesn’t resonate with you and that you hear something totally different, if not noise.

I have no advice to give you but to stop reading any list claiming any solution to any problem you think you might have, reclaiming valuable time. Time you could spend on listening to music. Your music.

With Syrian fugitives turning into European immigrants , I side with Finnish conductor Susanna Mälkki who says: There are days when Led Zeppelin is the only right thing to listen to.