If I’d never been diagnosed with Lymphoma, you wouldn’t be reading this.
It’s unscientific (and twee) to suggest that music saved my life – the indispensable NHS and six fortnights of chemotherapy did that – but if combatting any disease is contingent on mental approach, then music has definitely been instrumental (geddit?) in my recovery.
August 20th, 2016 was a shite day, but the oncologist enthused, “if you must get cancer, get this one.” He had a calming aura and an awesome beard. I trusted him. “You’re young and fit,” he said. I felt old and fragile. Off work, I had to keep occupied, so I listened to the radio all day. Listening became my ‘Keanotherapy’, a light counterpoint to the robust chemicals in my veins.
An indie trainspotter in my youth, music was once my daily bread. I’d scrutinise publications incessantly, with my encyclopaedic brother, for earth-shattering factoids about Carter B-sides. We once undertook a spectacular, near-fatal geek-off over which Portishead album was better. The years had turned that colourful young pedant beige, but now circumstances gave him time to begin afresh.
When a chance comment over a pint enabled me to link up with an online music review site as a contributor, Keanotherapy became glorious wish-fulfilment. Then, on December 8th, Dr Awesomebeard gave the all-clear. We high-fived, like you do with your oncologist. Catharsis peaked that night with my first show as a reviewer – the force of nature that is Kate Tempest.
Faced with an ugly disease, appreciating and evaluating others’ creativity was beautiful. To immerse myself in new music again, by artists like Desperate Journalist, Loyle Carner and Man and the Echo, has brought untold renewal. Music may occasionally break its most vulnerable performers, yet it enhances the mental and physical health of billions every day. What better therapy?
Check out Kate Tempest’s ‘Europe of Lost’ below