Where Words Fail Music Speaks. 

No matter race, age, gender, social economic status, or political affiliation.Music speaks to us all; it is truly a universal language

Mississippi to Germany; The Culture Shock.

Years ago, I had the opportunity to serve overseas in The U.S. Army; it was one of the most enlightening experiences of my life. It was the first time this country boy from Mississippi had stepped foot outside of America. Nuernberg West Germany was my home for two years.The experience was a culture shock.The food, music, cobblestone roads, the Autobahn and of course the language. Americans have been in Germany since the end of WWII, many of the locals speak and understand English. What I've learned was that the German people enjoy when foreigners attempted to understand their culture. It's a demonstration of respect. The military encouraged service members to speak the language of the natives and to assimilate. Learning to communicate with the locals had its challenges, but I eventually learned "some German".

Nicht verstanden English, But I Love American Music! 

As I began to travel around Nuernberg, the first bit of German I learned was the phrase Nicht Verstanden English. It basically means I don't understand English.I would hear this often.But when I'd encounter someone who could speak English. The phrase was ich verstanden English. Yes, I understand English. As I settled into my new world. I began to take advantage of this once in my lifetime opportunity. Shopping malls, restaurants, concerts, oh yeah and Oktober Fest. You can't go to Germany and not experience Oktober Fest. It was the late eighties and a new form of American music was taking the States by storm. Hip Hop was growing in popularity whether you liked it or not. It was becoming the"Rock N Roll" of the time.Hip Hop in the eighties and early nineties was far more inviting and diverse than what it is now( maybe not). A young MC (rapper) was on a world tour that came to Frankfurt. His songs were all over the popular radio. His name was LL Cool J this was before NCIS. I got my hands on a ticket, and went to that show; my first hip hop concert. I was not prepared for what I was experiencing. A crowd of  10,000 mostly Germans were singing/ rapping every word to every song that LL COOL J performed that night. The people around me were pronouncing English words with clarity and precision.Years later, I shared this story with some veteran friends of mine, and they had similar experiences while being stationed in other countries where English was not the first language. Music can often bring people together who would otherwise not come together under any other circumstances. We can have a shared experience without saying one word to each other. Music speaks to our basic humanity, the one thing we all possess and express to varying degrees, is our emotions.

Music Therapy. 

My experience in Germany left an indelible mark upon me. The way People respond to music and the impact it has on all cultures is truly fascinating to me. Have you ever been in a funky mood and suddenly. You hear your favourite song from five years ago, and all the fond memories from the period began to rush over you. Like a cool breeze on a hot and humid day? Music can be a form of mental therapy. Fun and energetic picking you up when you feel down, Soft and melodic, setting the mood for a relaxing, quiet evening after a long eventful day at work. It truly is the universal language. For all it's worth. I believe that the first composer was God (whatever you may choose to believe in is your right, but this is only my beliefs and not an endorsement of any religious affiliation). If you have ever been on a long walk in the forest you will probably understand. The birds singing, crickets chirping, woodpeckers hammering away and so on. Or maybe on safari the low deep bass roar of a lion, The percussive sound of a  herd of running Cape Buffalo. Nature is God's symphony.

Listening Without Prejudice.

During turbulent times in American history, music has healed the hurt and united us all. During the Civil Rights movement of the 1960's, music did more for closing the racial divide than any laws passed in Congress along could have ever done. The Jim Crow laws of the deep south separating the races were not effective when acts from Motown came to town. The rope lines and balconies could not separate the youth once the music started playing.The more the youth attended concerts by popular Rock N Roll artists such as Chuck Berry, Ray Charles, The Motown Revue, and many more.The kids realise that they had more in common than not.Trying to imagine the world without music, would be like standing on the shore of an ocean, unable to hear the rustling of the gulf breeze or the crashing of the surf against the shore while watching the sunset on the horizon. To put it another way, without the sound of music life experiences would not be as enjoyable. So the next time you put in your earbuds and start in on your morning workout, or the drive to the office listening to your favourite recording artist. Take time out to stop and really listen to the music.

C. Lewis

Children songwriter.