For his ideal society, Plato needs virtuous rulers, and these rulers must be educated so that they have stable souls. Their exposure to the arts, including music, must be carefully controlled. Most popular music is excluded.
“The man who makes the finest mixture of gymnastic with music and brings them to his soul in the most proper measure is the one of whom we would most correctly say that he is the most perfectly musical and well harmonized” (Republic 412a).
For us, I suppose it’s axiomatic that all possibilities of musical experience must be explored, and that intensity of any sort (if not fatal) is worth experiencing sometimes, even often. For us, rock music stomps all over Plato’s notorious restrictions on the arts. But there is a distinct question, I would say a valid Platonic question, about the ideal “soundtrack of our lives” – the reference music, as you might call it, that would properly have a strong influence on our orientation to the best life.
There can’t be just one right reference music, because we have different basic soul needs, at least these two main ones: we need to be capable of being harmonized with our fellow beings and our circumstances fairly easily, and we need to be capable of being roused to fight when necessary. One of Plato’s ways of putting the point is to say that the rulers of his republic must be tame to their friends and hostile to their enemies, as good dogs are (375-376).
Fifty years ago, Graham Nash effectively addressed both of our soul needs in two massively popular songs: “Our House” for the harmonious and “Chicago” for the militant.
You might pick something different for your tame song or your militant song if you thought about them separately, but Nash is remarkable as a source for both kinds of song – and for producing them very similarly, as the demo of “Our House” reveals. He sat down to the piano and pumped them out in pretty much the same left hand-right hand alternation, with much the same verse-chorus shifting of gears (except that the “Our House” chorus doesn’t have the lively phase two that the “Chicago” chorus has: “It’s dying”!). “Our House” is in the key of A major, “Chicago” in A minor. What is great about this, I think, is that we can feel the uniting Nashiness of the diversely pointed songs. We can hear how the two needs of the soul are being met by one stable soul. Relatively stable for 1971, anyway.
Which do you think matters more, the songs or the soul?
 Plato, The Republic of Plato, trans. Allan Bloom (New York: Basic Books, 1968).
 The demo of “Our House” is in C major–too high.
 The “stable soul” as a Platonic value has to be put on a different level than the utterly un-Platonic sentiments and opinions expressed in Nash’s two songs. In the Republic, private domesticity and public unruliness are banned for the guardian class.
 Barney Hoskyns’ take on this is much more negative: “God knows what Neil [Young] made of ‘Our House,’ Graham Nash’s trite ditty about his Laurel Canyon love-nest: the journey from ‘Ohio’ back to ‘Our House’ seemed to sum up a general failure of nerve in the LA music scene.” Waiting for the Sun: A Rock ‘n’ Roll History of Los Angeles (Milwaukee: Backbeat Books, 2009), p. 204.