Where Science Meets Muse

Finding Trends Through Music – The Need to Breathe

Posted by Plish on September 8, 2009

While listening to the song Breathe by Anna Nalick it suddenly struck me that this isn’t the first song called Breathe that I’ve heard recently.  So I did a search.

The results are interesting.  Since the 1970’s there have been 30 major releases of songs entitled Breathe.  This doesn’t include tunes with the words ‘Breathe’ or ‘Breath’ in longer titles.  The percentage breakdown is as follows:

graph of percentages

Over 73 percent of all songs entitled Breathe  have been released since 2000.  Forty percent of all songs have occurred since 2005.

What does this point to?

I created a mindmap to categorize what the word ‘breathe’ might be connected to.

Click for Full Size

Click for Full Size

When I got stuck I did a quick search of idiomatic use of Breatheto see if any meanings were missed and there were a couple so I added them to the mindmap. We could learn even more by looking at the lyrics of every song, but I don’t think it’s necessary to dive in that deeply. 

Let’s take a breath and look at what this all means…

The word ‘breathe’ is a verb.  When it is used on its own in the English language it is used in the imperative form.  It’s basically a command.  What are the results of following the order?

Rest, relaxation, grounding, slowing down, functioning properly, etc.

Why do we need to slow down?

The 21st century has brought an increase in pressures on people and when there are increased pressures on us, physical and mental, we don’t breathe as we should.  We use shallow breathing and when we do that we don’t relieve stress; in fact our bodies feel the effects of pressure more intensely and we don’t function as we should.

Bottom line:

If we don’t take time to breathe, we can’t be creative, we can’t solve problems, and we can’t be truly innovative.

Unfortunately, our 21st century has been filled with breath sapping stressors:

  • Terrorist Attacks
  • Changes in the Environment
  • Financial Crises
  • Unemployment

Humans, expecially in the US and other English speaking places have been hit with a lot in the 21st century.  The typical response to any stress is to first find a way to get through it and afterwards, when the adrenalin has worn off, and the immediate danger is past…


The problem is, some stressors are ongoing and we’re still trying to get through them.  So we go day to day and make the most of it, but in the end one thing that we still need to, and should all do is…


What does this mean trend wise?

It means that business offerings should focus on the need for humans to decompress.  Businesses should find ways of helping people breathe, help them recover a sense of balance, help them feel grounded, help give them more time so that they can breathe.  

In some ways this isn’t new.  While there is a current trend on the need to breathe, the reflection on breathing has been at the core of human thought for thousands of years.  These reflection often have one theme in common – that although each and every one of us breathes daily, very few of us do a good job.

This current trend is showing an awareness that we need to start doing better…


You know that our breathing is the inhaling and exhaling of air. The organ that serves for this is the lungs that lie round the heart, so that the air passing through them thereby envelops the heart. Thus breathing is a natural way to the heart. And so, having collected your mind within you, lead it into the channel of breathing through which air reaches the heart and, together with this inhaled air, force your mind to descend into the heart and to remain there. ~Nicephorus the Solitary


Freedom is strangely ephemeral. It is something like breathing; one only becomes acutely aware of its importance when one is choking. ~William E. Simon


Fear less, hope more; eat less, chew more; whine less, breathe more; talk less, say more; hate less, love more; and all good things are yours. ~Swedish Proverb


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