If you don’t believe in the power of music, watch this video of Henry, a man who has spent the last ten years in a nursing home.
This clip is from a new documentary called Alive Inside which follows the “awakening” that occurs when people who exhibit memory loss and Alzheimer’s are given music to which they have a strong emotional connection — often, music they grew up with. In the video clip, Henry is barely responsive before one of his caretakers puts headphones on him and starts up one of his favorite tunes on an iPod. Almost instantly, Henry begins to sway from side to side and sing with his eyes wide open.
After his headphones are removed, Henry is excited and answers questions about his favorite music, recalling memories. “I’m crazy about music, and you played beautiful music, beautiful sounds,” he says. “Cab Calloway was my number one band—guy I liked,” he remembers, before breaking into a vibrant rendition of “I’ll be Home for Christmas.”
According to neurologist, Dr. Oliver Sacks, “Music imprints itself on the brain deeper than any other human experience. Music evokes emotion and emotion can bring with it memory.” He adds, “Music brings back the feeling of life when nothing else can.”
The interviewer asks Henry, “What does music do to you?” and he responds, “It gives me the feeling of love, romance! … The Lord came to me and he made me a holy man, so he gave me these sounds.”
What is your favorite music? What will awaken you when your memory seems to be gone?