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If You Were In a Coma?

What Song Would Be The One To “Wake You Up?”

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There’s a certain type of news story that always catches my eye.  Maybe you’ve also encountered this headline:

A person is suffering with a dire medical condition, something so severe that they are in a coma.

Then, through some circumstance, they hear a certain song…

…and they wake up from the coma.

How fantastic is that?!? 

These persons were basically beyond the reach of medical science, standing in front of death’s open door – and they were brought back to life by a song!

Interestingly, there doesn’t seem to be any occurrences of this prior to 1996, when a 22-year-old, in a coma following a car wreck, was revived after hearing Bon Jovi’s “Livin’ on a Prayer.”  Following that, there are no reports of the phenomenon until 2005. 

But that 9-year-old boy (who had been hit by a car and in a coma for two weeks) and Green Day’s American Idiot album seemed to open a door – over the next decade, there were over a dozen reported cases.  And then, for whatever reason, the reports stop.  I didn’t see any cases later than 2014. 

It brings up a lot of questions. I think the best one to start with is this: 

If YOU were in a coma, what music would you want to hear?

In every case that I know of, the song that brought the patient back to life was one that they already knew and loved. 

So, the music should be something that you already have an emotional connection with. My guess is that it’s more likely to work if the song is upbeat and energetic, but that’s entirely speculation on my part.

Remember (and this applies to everything I say here), I’m neither doctor nor expert, and I speak with no medical authority.

“Coma Specialist?
Somehow, that’s even cooler.

Now, if I’m ever really in a coma, I don’t want you to play me one song over and over. That may be… detrimental. I would definitely want a playlist – an extensive one. But I’m going to save that for another time.

Just for fun, let’s think in terms of one song, and ask:

Please understand, this is an entirely subjective and personal choice. There’s no wrong answer. 

But here’s my advice:

Pick a song that truly moves you.

What do I mean by that?

  • If it makes the hair on your arms stand up – the song is moving you. 
  • If you get tingles up your spine, or if a song simply makes you smile, your body is reacting to the music and you’re being moved, both literally and figuratively. 

Our bodies can respond to music in a wide variety of ways, and what’s fascinating is that these are involuntary, physiological reactions. Having your breath taken away by a moment in a song, or having to wipe away a tear, are visceral, lived experiences that we (most of us, anyway… no judgment…) know are fully real.

Because we’ve felt them and experienced them for ourselves.

These types of reactions are mysterious ripples across our inner beings. My hunch is that these involuntary, physiological reactions to music are what can nudge a person’s brain back into waking consciousness. 

This is what may bring you out of a coma.

So, what’s a song that’s guaranteed to put a smile on your face?

What’s a song that makes you raise your hands to the sky?

Or that prompts you to remark that you’ve “got dust” in your eye? 

  • Maybe it’s the first record you ever bought with your own money, or maybe it’s the first song you heard after bringing a child into the world.
  • Maybe it’s a song that reminds you of a long-departed friend.
  • Or maybe it’s the song that your mother sang to you. 

Is there a song that just “feels like home” to you, or that makes you feel like you’re being touched by the Holy Spirit? 

Is there a song that got you through a rough time in your life?

Possibly you’ll pick a song that makes you want to stomp around and shout…

…or maybe something so gentle and kindhearted that it makes you weep a little bit…

…just because it’s so damn beautiful.

That last one is going to guide my choice:

Paul McCartney has always had the knack for a benevolently friendly, melodic beauty, and something about that really rings my chime. 

I’m going to pick “Hey Jude” as my song.

The melody of “Hey Jude” makes me weepy from the outset, and there’s the long crowd sing-along with lots of voices. 

Enthusiastic group sing-alongs have a way of lighting up my neurochemistry, even if it’s as simple and meaningless as “…na-na-na-na…” 

And I haven’t checked…

but I think maybe my pupils dilate whenever McCartney pushes his voice into that ragged, edge-of-breaking territory.

In light of all that, let’s be frank enough to admit that there is a chance – however small – that any of us could fall into a coma. 

If you decide to share your one tune with us? Perhaps consider also passing it on to your family and loved ones, just in case the situation arises.

It’s a fun bit of conjecture.

But it also has the potential to literally save a life.

Let the author know that you liked their article with a “Green Thumb” Upvote! 

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JJ Live At Leeds
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August 10, 2023 4:19 am

On one hand I feel like I’d want something soothing to bring me round, have the sounds of Fleetwood Mac’s Albatross wash over me.

On the other hand something raucous that would wake anyone from the deepest of slumbers. If its guitars Ace Of Spades but I think what is needed for this occasion is a banging dance track.

Underworld – Born Slippy

Starts off restrained before letting go and got to be the full 9+ minutes version for maximum effect. And if it doesn’t work then everyone present can have a party.

https://youtu.be/iTFrCbQGyvM

thegue
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thegue
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August 10, 2023 6:56 am

Man, I love this choice.

thegue
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August 10, 2023 7:03 am

Grouse,

This is a completely different criteria than that “deserted island” question, for which I’d choose The Talking Heads’ “This Must Be the Place (Naive Melody)”, which might be my favorite song of all-time.

But we need a song that STILL brings goose bumps, that pumps out beats and energy to break through the deep subconscious? I can only think of two songs off-hand, the second of which gets promoted into a tie due to its repeated line “My mind’s not right”:

https://youtu.be/7_fYRU0FdtU

https://youtu.be/P1BjndTZvQY

rollerboogie
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August 10, 2023 8:09 am

Fascinating topic and question! I did not know about this phenomenon and it’s intriguing that it seemed to have its moment and then went away. Hmmm, my song, what would it be? A lot of my all-timers have lost their sheen over the years from being heard countless times, an issue that has been exacerbated by streaming. This funky former #1 still hits me just as hard as it did when I first got hooked on it as a child and when it was on the “must play” list at my wedding reception. Surely I would snap out of it right away and start jumping up and down on my bed, like I did as a child, if I heard this.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NP8Sm2g5l_4

Last edited 8 months ago by rollerboogie
dutchg8r
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August 10, 2023 4:48 pm
Reply to  rollerboogie

Nice, a fellow Coma Funker! 😁

LinkCrawford
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August 13, 2023 3:57 pm
Reply to  rollerboogie

I’m starting to wonder if your favorite #1 of all time might also be my favorite #1 of all time. This song is so good.

mt58
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August 10, 2023 8:33 am

Your simple yet profoundly poetic reasoning for “Hey Jude“ is beautiful. That’s an excellent choice for this fun thought experiment.

I have dozens of songs that could get the job done, as I would imagine most of our readership also has. But I’m thinking that if I’m comatose, I’m going to need something that, while is one of my personal “bangers,” I’m gonna need some logic and specific instructions to bring me around. Sort of an SOP for the situation.

Something that literally tells me what I’m going to do.

From 1997: Cue the anarchist punks:

https://youtube.com/watch?v=2H5uWRjFsGc&feature=share

Virgindog
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August 10, 2023 9:09 am

Darn it. I can’t listen to any of the choices because I’m in the office today, which is kinda like being in a coma.

I’m going to go with a song that, if you don’t listen to the lyrics, is so flipping happy that it would wake me up from anything. It’s The Foundations’ “Build Me Up Buttercup.”

https://youtu.be/KbfJM7eMnBM

cstolliver
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August 10, 2023 9:52 am

This is really interesting to think about, BG. The song that immediately came to mind isn’t my favorite of his, or a song I picked in my series. But it is one that would get my attention immediately, and I do like it: Stevie Wonder’s “Sir Duke.”

Napoleon of Birds
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August 10, 2023 10:24 am

I could be persuaded to choose Hey Jude, but that would be woefully unoriginal. (Couldn’t see myself staying comatose through the horn drones.)
So instead, we’ll go with PM Dawn’s I’d Die Without You, quite possibly the most viscerally satisfying song I have ever heard.

Virgindog
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August 10, 2023 11:15 am

Y’know, mt58 may say he just hangs the drapes around here, but he hides Easter eggs behind those drapes. Anyone find today’s?

Virgindog
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August 10, 2023 12:02 pm
Reply to  Both Grouse

I have a friend who swore she overheard this at a backstage party.

Person 1: I heard Tommy Tutone’s here.
Person 2: Isn’t he dead?
Tommy Tutone: No, but my career is.

Virgindog
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August 10, 2023 2:28 pm
Reply to  Both Grouse

And yes, you’re right, but there’s something else nearby.

thegue
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August 11, 2023 6:28 am
Reply to  Virgindog

Is it the QR code which I just watched?

Virgindog
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August 13, 2023 4:36 pm
Reply to  Both Grouse

Try the QR code and see what you get.

PeiNews
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August 10, 2023 11:32 am

I would pick something that would annoy me enough to wake me up and beg whoever’s in the room to turn that @#$% off. And there’s an obvious selection that fits the bill:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rNkgDJpcuwU

Last edited 8 months ago by PeiNews
mt58
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August 10, 2023 11:48 am
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The most recent version of ‘s nightmare fuel has entered the chat.

dutchg8r
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August 10, 2023 4:51 pm
Reply to  mt58

MR BLOBBY!!!!!!!

Phylum of Alexandria
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August 10, 2023 2:04 pm

“Girlfriend In a Coma?”

I know, I know. Its serious.

This is my #1 pick:

https://youtu.be/k-b-OJrRQxA

cappiethedog
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August 10, 2023 2:50 pm

“Decatur” by Sufjan Stevens.

dutchg8r
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August 10, 2023 4:43 pm

Interesting question! Believe it or not, I’m thinking it’s gotta be something funky, like Gap Band’s “Burn Rubber on Me”, where my brain will feel it HAS to start tapping along to the beat with fingers, toes, shoulder, anything. Funky bass, funky drums, I’ll be bopping along awake in no time!

Sure, the obvious choice of either George Michael ‘s or Duran’s catalog would work too, but just 1 from each?

Probably ‘Club Tropicana’ from George. Everything about that song is happy, carefree joy.

As for Duran? Probably ‘Planet Earth’, because my brain would feel compelled to activate and sing along to the bap-ba-baaa’s in the chorus.

Funny enough, George Michael was inspired to write ‘John and Elvis Are Dead’ on his Patience album after reading a story about a guy who woke up from 20 years in a coma. Maybe this song would work to wake others up?!

[Not gonna go for the obvious pun, not gonna do it…..]

https://youtu.be/c-GvAbPsarw

cappiethedog
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August 10, 2023 5:00 pm
Reply to  dutchg8r

Remember when I responded to one of your posts on the mothership with this?

“In other words, Carrie and Lowell isn’t your jam.”

You just be you.

Don’t ever let anybody pressure you to do the R.E.M. deep-dive.

blu_cheez
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August 10, 2023 6:07 pm

There is only one choice:
https://youtu.be/8soQkubMk1g

Pauly Steyreen
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August 10, 2023 8:51 pm

This is stupendously hard to answer. I’ve been thinking about it off and on all day and I’ve got 1,000 answers, which means I’ve got no answer at all…

Zeusaphone
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August 10, 2023 10:56 pm

The only thing that ever wakes me up…

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=quxTnEEETbo

…in the ugly synthesized version my alarm clock plays

mt58
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August 11, 2023 6:56 am
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LinkCrawford
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August 13, 2023 3:59 pm
Reply to  mt58

Hey, that’s my phone’s default ringtone!

lovethisconcept
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August 11, 2023 10:00 pm

I would have to go with this one. It just always makes me feel better.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a6cX61oNsRQ

lovethisconcept
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August 15, 2023 11:11 am
Reply to  Both Grouse

Funny you should say that. They are huge fans of each other’s work, and they actually recorded an album together named TajMo.
It’s available on Spotify.
https://open.spotify.com/album/3NF642glRZZKf3Ng96eMfX

I have been fortunate enough to see them both perform live, separately, but seeing them together would be incredible.

Last edited 8 months ago by lovethisconcept
Ozmoe
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August 12, 2023 12:15 am

The one song that I remember as always making me happy and peppy and could probably shake me back to my senses is this one. 29 million plus views on YouTube can’t be wrong, I should add: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uyTVyCp7xrw

cappiethedog
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August 12, 2023 5:09 pm
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I remember watching The Del Rubio Triplets cover this song on The Golden Girls. I can’t find the cassette. The highlight was their cover of “What Have I Done to Deserve This?”.

I miss the eighties.

LinkCrawford
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August 13, 2023 3:56 pm

I’ve actually thought about this alot over the last while. I’ve come to the conclusion that it would have to be music that I attached myself to at a very young age. Weird as it sounds (or not weird at all for me), I honestly think a series of Sesame Street favorites and jingles from the radio station that I grew up with would probably be the most effective at waking me up from a coma.

That and maybe playing “Hard To Say I’m Sorry” by Chicago WITHOUT letting it segue into “Get Away”. That would probably wake me up.

LinkCrawford
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August 15, 2023 1:59 pm
Reply to  Both Grouse

YES! “Conjunction Junction” is EXACTLY the kind of thing that would bring me out of a coma. Perfect example. 🙂

stobgopper
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August 14, 2023 3:08 pm

Good to hear from you, BG. What I’d love to hear is the Housemartins a cappella-ing their way through ‘Caravan of Love’ when I come to, ready to appreciate life again. What I’m pretty sure knocks me out of a coma is something bouncy, loud, riff-laden, and perhaps a little dumb: maybe The Black Eyed Peas’ ‘Let’s Get It Started’ or AC/DC’s ‘Moneytalks.’ You know, a little shot of adrenaline straight to the reptilian part of the brain.

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