The Art of Music, Apple Pie, and Coping

It was another rough week at school full of tests, quizzes, and homework. I sit in my room with my earphones in, completely engulfed in the melodies emitted from the device. As the each track ends and a new one begins, between that three-second pause, I am momentarily lost in anticipation for the next song to bring me a new sense of wonderful oblivion. My heart rate picks up and my eyes close, and suddenly I feel a hand on my shoulder. I immediately jolt out of my chair and give a short yelp as my mother tries to calm me down. “Kelly, what’s the matter with you? I’ve been calling you for an hour from downstairs. Come eat dinner.”

Music is an invitation to relieve the mind, body, and soul of stress. Every human has negative energy that needs to be channeled to some place and the reality is, we thrive on emotion and must maintain a healthy equilibrium in order to function. Whether it is turning to external remedies or looking to one’s self, coping is a necessary process. Depending on the nature of the obstacle, people seem to seek some kind of remedy to offset the ordeals in life. Some seek comfort in reggae, others in folk, and maybe some in hip hop. Melodies allow for people to reach a subconscious part of themselves and enter their own tranquility; thus, any tune has potential to create stability in life.

The breakdown of blood sugar in the brain produces energy that leads to a production of chemical messenger substances called neurotransmitters. They deliver the messages from one portion of the body to another, regulating the mood, mind, memory, and behavior (Marcus).

Music can be so intoxicating that it may be difficult to cease listening once engaged in a song or artist. Although it is meant to be therapeutic, music may impede on its original purpose when one becomes too consumed in it. For instance, one may indulge in Frank Sinatra because of his enticing voice and lyrics. In “More” Sinatra sings:

“More than the simple words I try to say, / I only live to love you more each day. / More than you’ll ever know, my arms long to hold you so, / my life will be in your keeping, waking, sleeping, laughing, weeping.”

Ironically, people often find themselves listening to music about human connection alone. To isolate oneself is a dangerous habit. While it can provide a chance for self-reflection, too much of it can separate one from society. Although Sinatra mesmerizes his audience, along with many pleasures in life, too much of one thing is not a good thing. Music has potential inadequacy for some and could easily derail an individual, delaying coping.

Although there are plenty of addictions that surpass the severity of addiction to Frank Sinatra, it is imperative to consider any risk when choosing a particular coping mechanism.

When one listens to a song, it should involve meditation about the artist behind the composition. When an artist composes a song, he or she typically involves life experiences with people. Without compassion, love, or support from each other, people simply would not survive. Music is a common denominator for people to share thought and emotion. In Bob Marley’s “One Love” he expresses the unification of people in a simplistic way as he preaches about a universal emotion that exists in all humans: love. Love breeds peace. The song emphasizes the opportunity for people to collaborate with each other and peacefully coexist. Beyond using the song itself to cope, people can rely on one another for comfort.

Created by the American Pie Council in 1986, National Pie Day is a great way to celebrate pie’s ability to spread happiness to others.

Remedies come in a variety of different forms to alleviate unwanted stress and everyone has a particular way to tailor to individual needs. Although struggle and pain are both an inevitable part of existence, it is human instinct to seek protection or relief from harm. To avoid the depths of despair, one could find solace in an artist such as Wilco. The harmonies Jeff Tweedy and his band mates sing acknowledge melancholy, but find a way to convert it into an optimistic perspective. In the song “What’s the world Got in Store” Tweedy sings:

Close your eyes and go to sleep, baby / Take your head off your feet, honey / Cause you’ve been working hard and I know you’re tired / You been trying hard not to think I’m a liar / What’s the world got in store? / What’s the world got in store for you?

Wilco finds a way to reconcile the downbeats of life with its potential for great opportunity. By placing the two notions adjacent to each other, an individual has the opportunity to contemplate the prospect of what has been and what will be. Once the assessment is made, the person is likely to answer the rhetorical question Tweedy poses. In another Wilco recording, “Radio Cure,” the band expresses that “distance has the way of making love understandable.” Again, Tweedy expresses how distance, which commonly separates those in love, can bring people together to understand love. One common misconception of coping with difficulty is avoidance (Robbins), which can only prolong the problem. Consequently, all humans need to endure pain and undergo a coping process to come to a happy conclusion.

Plant foods, such as apples, contain phytochemicals that protect the brain (Marcus).

In some cases, people have to confront society and resort to their inner self to find truth.
Although it may not be healthy, apple pies offer this same kind of comfort. Any variety of apple pie can help someone cope. Self-expression is the pivotal platform on which people create their individualism and every person has a certain way to cope with internalized emotions, each distinctively. One is essentially lost until he or she has found what it is that truly allows unique personality to evolve. It may be difficult to cope with the time period or popular culture that dominates society. For songwriter, activist, and poet Bob Dylan, challenging popular consensus was necessary in order to find his own voice. An array of different issues allowed him to become a revolutionary in a culture of bigotry, racism, and war. Before Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. spoke his famous words in Washington D.C., Dylan initiated a sense of calm over the crowd with his “When the Ship Comes in.” He expressed his conflicting views with an irrational America in a rational way. In his own unique voice, lyrics, and attitude, Dylan articulated his personal thoughts on racism to the nation symbolically and literally. In a recent article in Rolling Stone, Bono comments on Dylan’s career: “The really unusual thing about Bob Dylan was that, for a moment in the Sixties, he felt like the future. He was the Voice of a Generation, raised against the generation that came before.” Just for the audacity to remain true to his genuine character, Dylan participated in an historical moment. When a person can maintain his or her own identity despite the mainstream culture that opposes and even ridicules it, then that person has reached ultimate self-expression.

The essential difference between the Elegant Farmer apple pie and all the other pies baked around the world is that it is baked in a paper bag. This brilliant technique creates a uniquely crunch top crust and a light, flakey old-fashioned bottom crust (The Elegant Farmer).

According to the Oxford English dictionary, coping means “to manage successfully” (Aldwin). Coping is an art that people must experiment with to find their personal remedy. Music enables me to deal with stress in a healthy manner, as does apple pie. However intoxicating or unconventional these processes might be, I find comfort in them. Although these work for me, they may not be the answer for everyone; therefore, every human must find their appropriate coping mechanism.

An organic apple pie recipe is the perfect way to find your personal identity through pie. Use ingredients like large crisp organic apples, packed brown sugar, cornstarch, and freshly grated nutmeg.

Image Credit: Edward Kimber / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Reference List

Aldwin, Carolyn M. Stress, coping, and development : an integrative perspective. New York : Guilford Press, 2007.

The Elegant Farmer. 2008. http://www.elegantfarmer.com/, November 18, 2008.

Kronauer, Eileen Maher. Apple of Your Pie. Harvard, Massachusetts. October 9, 2008. http://www.appleofyourpie.com/index.html.

Marcus, Susan Archibald. The Hungry Brain. Thousand Oaks: SAGE Publications, 2007.
Marley, Bob. Legend. Tuff Going, 1984.

Robbins, Paul R. Coping with stress : Common Sense Strategies. Jefferson: McFarland & Co., 2007.

Sinatra, Frank. Classic Sinatra. Capitol, 2000.

Tweedy, Jeff. Being There. Reprise Records, 1996.

Tweedy, Jeff. Yankee Hotel Foxtrot. Nonesuch Records, 2002.

The Upper Crust of Pie Appreciation. The American Pie Council. 2008. http://www.piecouncil.org/index.php.

Wenner, Ann S. “100 Greatest Singers of All Time.” Rolling Stone. 2008. http://www.rollingstone.com/news/coverstory/greatestsingers/page/7, November 18, 2008.