Min Yoongi, Music, and the Power of Vulnerability

Heidi S.
5 min readAug 9, 2023

This past Sunday morning, I livestreamed Min Yoongi’s (i.e., Suga/Agust D’s) final D-Day tour concert.

Near the end of the concert, he performed the following songs in sequence: “Life Goes On,” “Snooze,” “Dear My Friend,” and “Amygdala.”

“Life Goes On” is about the inevitable passage of time and the way people drift apart and memories haunt. “Snooze” is a song (featuring the late pianist Ryuichi Sakamoto) that Yoongi wrote to comfort younger idols and trainees — and perhaps, as Sakamoto suggests in the SUGA: Road to D-Day documentary, as a reminder to himself that things will be okay. “Dear My Friend” tells the story of a close friendship where the friend took a different path, into juvenile detention and into drugs, and asks the inevitable “what ifs.” Finally, in “Amygdala,” named after the part of the brain that processes emotions, he recounts fearful moments in his life — health scares, accidents, trauma. It ends with the words, “Save me from here, hurry and get me out quickly.”

A lot of Agust D’s songs display a vulnerability that many of my favorite songwriters put on display in their music. This series of four songs in particular are full of pain and uncertainty and anxiety, but also comfort and a certain gentleness and grace that we often don’t grant ourselves. Yoongi’s latest Agust D album was one of liberation and healing, as he has allowed himself to live more freely.

Using a photograph of my copy of D-Day so I don’t get sued.

But on Sunday, as Yoongi stood on stage with his guitar, he started crying during “Snooze” and then throughout the next three songs. Afterward, he explained that he knew that some of his seniors were in the audience, people he had watched when he was younger and building his own dreams, and he started thinking about how he has become that person for others. And thinking about that shift made the past 10 years flash through his mind — and the tears came with those memories.

And as Yoongi cried, I cried too. His catharsis was my catharsis.

I obviously haven’t experienced anything like Yoongi’s professional success, but I do know what it feels like to go through something difficult, to struggle, to lose friends, to be angry, and then to look back on years gone by and think about how you kept putting one foot in front of the other in spite of it all. I know what it’s like to hurt for your past self and for what it took to get to the place you are now.

On Sunday, I thought about all the times music has helped me through difficult periods, has saved my life. About all the times I’ve felt alone in the world and trapped by my thoughts about how nothing is ever going to get better or give me a sense of worth. About all the times I’ve been hurt and taken advantage of by other people. About failing at things I desperately wanted. About all the rejection that has piled up over the course of my life.

As I write this now, I think about all the times I’ve kept my mouth shut, kept my vulnerability to myself because I don’t think anyone cares.

When you make music, you don’t just make it for yourself. You put it out into the world for other people to hear. Sharing vulnerable pieces of the self is one of the things we do to seek validation, but we also do it to connect to other human beings. Because we relate to other people through these shared feelings of vulnerability, of anxiety, of disappointment, of hope.

And I was crying with Min Yoongi, I was also thinking about how there are people out here who want “AI” to make music so they don’t have to pay musicians or singers. And how, frankly, it makes me want to set something on fire.

Generative AI can’t be vulnerable. Or feel pain. Or experience trauma. Or heal. All it can do is steal the words and voices of others and arrange them in a new order. There’s a famous thought experiment by Frank Jackson that we read in introductory philosophy of mind courses known as “Mary’s room,” where Mary has spent her whole life in a black-and-white room but with access to vast information. So, she knows everything there is to know about color, but she’s never had the experience of seeing it. And there’s something new in that experience of seeing color, something beyond the physical, beyond inputted data — isn’t there?

AI can’t cry with me for our younger selves. There are eight billion human experiences happening right now. Every single person has a particular perspective that no one else can possibly have because they cannot occupy the same time and space. There are billions of ways we feel pain. But in some sense, it’s the same pain, it’s the same anxiety, it’s the same hurt. Because at the end of the day, we’re all just human. And there’s vulnerability in being human.

Music is both joyful and sorrowful. It moves you to dance and moves you to tears. And I’m grateful that there are people who can put their vulnerability out into the world with a melody and a beat.

At the end of every other concert on the D-Day tour, Yoongi ends by performing “The Last” — written by a younger, angrier Agust D about depression, the struggle to debut, and the detractors and obstacles he encountered along the way. By the end of the show, the stage that has been taken apart over the course of the concert is gone, so it’s just Yoongi left, the human who has survived. And he turns and leaves with little fanfare.

But on Sunday, instead of walking away, there was a door from the “Amygdala” music video behind him, the door he struggled to get to but couldn’t reach. But this time he opened the door and stepped through it, and the words “Future’s gonna be okay” appeared on the screen behind him.

I don’t know if the future is going to be okay. In my life, such as it is, I don’t think I’ll ever be free from struggle. But I do know that I’m not alone in feeling broken and patched together. And I know that I don’t have to let every wound, every bad thing I’ve experienced define me or have power over me. Much like Yoongi, it took me a while to get there. But there’s power in vulnerability and in recognizing that life goes on, even when it hurts.

Photo by Oscar Keys on Unsplash

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Heidi S.

PhD in philosophy | Feminist | Anarchist | Pop culture junkie | Kpop listener | Actually Autistic