A song is unfixed in time and place (as distinct from the bodies it takes over). A song narrates a past experience.
When it is being sung, it fills the present. Stories do the same, but songs have another dimension which is uniquely theirs. A song, whilst filling the present, hopes to reach a listening ear, in some future somewhere. It leans forward, further and further. Songs lean forward. Without the persistence of this hope, songs, I believe, would not exist.
The tempo, the beat, the repetitions, construct a shelter from the flow of linear time. A shelter in which future, present and past can console, provoke, ironize and inspire one another. Most songs being listened to across the world at this moment are recordings, not live performances. And this means that the physical experience of sharing and coming together is less intense, but it is still there, it is present in the heart of the exchange and communication taking place.”
This is a quote from a BBC Radio 3 Documentary program essay by John Berger (I have an old book on my shelves by him: On Seeing.His writing has been described as “a listening voice”). Other art forms do what he is describing here, but music has special qualities. It can surrounds us in a way that can be like an embrace, or touch us directly like the most intimate words of a friend.