Stories of Music gives the reader (listener? viewer?) an emotionally satisfying journey through the world of music, as Holly E. Tripp weaves together the stories of more than 40 authors and artists, from 11 countries, telling in their own words and mediums how music has impacted their lives. I found it to be a very emotionally moving book.
Having grown up within a musical family, Tripp was fascinated by stories of her great-grandmother, especially the one where she held “jam sessions” through a telephone party line. Her own parents gave Tripp a guitar when she was 16 and she has been writing and playing music ever since. But it was after the sudden death of her brother that she fully realized the impact music has on emotions – and healing – as the songs that kept coming to her somehow brought him closer to her, and helped her deal with his death.
When she began this book Tripp says she put out a call for submissions from authors and artists, thinking she’d be lucky if she got 100. Instead, more than 1,000 poured into her inbox, and she carefully chose those which she felt represented people universally, and best told the impact that music has on individuals to offer fun, hope, healing, and impact on their lives. The result is an interactive, multi-media book that contains stories, poems, photographs, and music and videos that the readers can listen to and watch on their mobile devices.
I love how the anthology is laid out. The first poem (which I listened to the poet read aloud) talks about music weaving through generations in an old home. Then the stories advance through time, with artists’ stories from their childhood, through adulthood, of how music has impacted their lives. My favorite photograph lies at the end of the book, of an aged pair of hands clutching sheet music. “Music,” Tripp says, “… transcends religion, race, language, and even time.”
There are fun stories of music and children; a powerful poem about Civil Rights marches; and a story on how music is helping an artist’s home country of Bosnia heal after war. There are the impactful stories of bringing Mozart’s music into a prison and using rock music to help heal depression. And there’s the history of traveling musicians, from the beginnings of time to a group who currently participates in the Massachusetts Walking Tour every year. Another story (with included music) of a cellist – which bridges generations through Saint-Saëns’ “Le Cygne” – is beautiful to read and listen to. It’s nearly impossible to pick a favorite, but I was really touched by the story of an interview with Glen Campbell shortly after he was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in 2011.
Stories of Music is a wonderful book, which I found hard to put down. There were times when it had me in tears at the moving examples of how music touched – and many times saved – lives. It also made me smile, as one artist describes how kids in Haiti enthusiastically play music after their meal, even more excited about the music than the food.
Tripp has done a marvelous job of bringing music to life, and showing that music indeed, does speak a universal language. No matter what country or background, what religion or political persuasion, the artists in this book all have one thing in common: music impacts their lives, and they use it to communicate their hearts.
I would recommend this book to anyone, musician or non-musician. Tripp plans to publish a second volume, and I can’t wait to read it.