My friend Dennis has a theory. If you’re listening to music with someone and you both know the words, it’s human instinct to rush to the chorus.
You've got mud on your face
You big disgrace
da na na na na
WE WILL WE WILL ROCK YOU
Try it out if you don't believe me. If you blast it really loudly in a car, you may even get a whole street singing. And who doesn't feel better after some Freddie Mercury?
In this past Sunday’s New York Times, David DeSteno wrote a fascinating article about the practice of compassion. He conducted a bunch of experiments—involving hot sauce and synchrony—to see how far compassion can radiate, and how we can cultivate it grow even farther. My favorite experiment involved two people listening to sounds through earphones and tapping their hands on sensors in response. When two people tapped in synchrony, they later showed great compassion for each other, volunteering to do extra work for them. The people who tapped in random, mismatched rhythms, not so much.
Just the act of tapping out a tune together, created this powerful altruistic connection.
I thought about my friend Dennis, whom I haven’t spoken to in more than a decade. Whenever I share a chorus with someone, I think about him. I feel connected to him, to my college friends, to Ramen noodles and argyle socks and the smell of warm beer and Prell shampoo. I like to think I sing louder in Dennis’s honor.