If you missed Diane Sawyer’s 20/20 interview with Gabrielle Giffords, you can watch it in its entirety here. But if you watch only one clip, make it the one below. Because Giffords’ husband, Mark Kelly, knew she would one day ask what she went through during her early recovery, he filmed it. In that footage, we see the healing power of music: Giffords, who still requires hours of daily therapy helping her recall words, sings along to Tom Petty’s “Free Fallin’ ” and Cyndi Lauper’s “Girls Just Want to Have Fun.” As one of her therapists explains of survivors of brain injuries, “Music is accessed in many different areas of the brain that aren’t designated for language, and they can retrieve the lyrics through another side of the brain to get words back.”
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If you don’t already wish music had a body so you could hug it, watch this clip from “The Memory Loss Tapes,” part 1 of the 2009 HBO documentary series The Alzheimer’s Project, in which we see a man who can’t remember his wife stand up with his old a cappella men’s group and perfectly sing lead. Then watch the trailer for the 2011 Sundance film The Music Never Stopped, based on the true story of a son with a brain tumor who who regains lost memories through music and the estranged father who finally began to understand him when he learned why that music was so important.
What are your favorite stories of music’s healing powers? Let’s keep it rolling.