Rock Concerts Unite Body and Soul


This article originally appeared in Issue# 34

Often called the mind-body split, the conflict arises when the mind (ego) exerts control over the body's impulsive, nonverbal and often inappropriate spontaneous expressions. Because these essential parts of each individual's personality are poorly integrated, awareness can be fragmented and a crucial sense of wholeness missing.

Today's turned-on listeners may not realize it, but their response to rock's frenetic beat may be akin to ancient rituals designed to recreate this wholeness.

Especially in the shared group experience of large concerts, the rock audience becomes the closely related clan/tribe participating in the deeply emotional rituals created by the priest, wise woman or shaman.

The music's rhythmic beat mimics the heartbeat and the newly created tribal members share the physically freeing sensory overload. The repetitive drumming and frenzied dancing helps them experience the sense of power that a total involvement with the body can give.

As the ceremony continues, the repetitive movements stimulate an enlivening energy throughout the body. Heavy rhythms propel each cell to vibration frequencies, electrifying them with energy. The mind relaxes, absorbed in internal vibrations and sensations, the mind and body are reunited.

This physical enlivening of the body is most obvious in such songs as Van Helen's "Jump," Kenny Loggin's "Footloose," and the Hooters' "And We Danced." Mind-body integration is expressed verbally when Duran Duran sings 'There's a fine hoe drawing my senses together/And I think it's about to break/If I listen close I can hear them singers/Voices in my body coming through the radio."

This reintegration of mind and body also causes the reconciliation of opposites with the listeners' consciousness. Good and evil are no longer opposed. "What is" is accepted. As a result of this balance, the critical function is suspended, which helps to explain the apparent amorality of much rock music.

This attitude allows teens an outlet for their sexuality and the innate instinctual qualities usually repressed by cultural conditioning. Such songs as Billy Squire's "Stroke Me, Stroke Me," and "Lay Your Hands On Me" by the Thompson Twins provide a safe outlet for behaviors that are repressed in ordinary life by an adult culture that advises teens they are "too young."

L.L. Whyte observed that the ego alienated from the body never truly loses itself in God. In this time of the dominance of the rational mind, the music of youth has unconsciously found the problem and attempted to heal the fragmentation of consciousness. This is the positive result of rock music. We, as adults, can now work with this phenomenon to become aware of its use and advantages. With the insight of teens, we can consciously learn to balance mind and body.

Author Bio: 

Susie Sherrill is a doctoral student in the Institute of Liberal Arts at Emory University at Atlanta, Georgia, where she is studying the universal neurosis of humanity.