Melodic Memoir

Matt Hay finds purpose in crafting ‘Soundtrack of Silence’

Matt Hay never considered the possibility of losing his hearing at a young age, but while in college, a medical diagnosis made that a reality. Hay responded by crafting a collection of songs that made him think of the people he loved most in his life. The playlist became known as the “Soundtrack of Silence,” and Hay later crafted a memoir of the same name that was published in January.

In the late 1990s, the Newburgh, Indiana, native was a sophomore at Indiana University in Bloomington, Indiana, when he noticed his hearing getting progressively worse in one ear.
An MRI scan at Riley’s Hospital for Children in Indianapolis revealed many disturbing realities. For one, Hay would lose his hearing, and there was nothing he could do to stop it.

More pressingly, the doctors stated he had neurofibromatosis type 2, an autosomal dominant disorder characterized by tumors in the central nervous system – in Hay’s case, brain tumors on his hearing nerves.

“Getting all that news was a lot to process,” Hay recalls. “Even though [the doctor] told me the hearing wasn’t that big of a deal, it felt like a pretty big deal to me.”

Given the prospect of losing his hearing, he considered what songs and sounds he wanted to re-listen to and remember for the rest of his life. Hay asked himself, “What is the soundtrack for the little bit of life I’ve already lived, and what do I want the soundtrack to be for the life I have not yet lived?”

Among songs by The Who, Simon and Garfunkel, and Elton John was The Beatles’ 1969 hit “Here Comes the Sun,” which reminds Hay most of his now-wife, Nora.

Hay considers himself a lucky man for the life he’s led. He works as Alexion Pharmaceuticals Inc.’s U.S. director of advocacy for metabolics.

“What an honor to put something out into the world that makes somebody else feel a little less alone, a little more connected, a little more grateful for their health, or a little more appreciative of their support network,” Hay says. “That’s what I want to take out of this.”


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