Driving home from work the other night, when the stars were tucked into a rainy blanket and the chill misted the trees with autumn, reminded the season was changing even more than the ubiquitous pumpkin spiced everything. Van Morrison’s “Moondance”, began playing on my iPod. Deliciously, I have it connected to the speakers, so I can crank well-loved songs and frighten no one by belting the chorus.
Listening to him frolic under “October skies…”, I had one of those perfect moments where I felt the season all the way down to my toes and smiled in delight. I quickly found Neil Young’s “Harvest Moon,” the incomparable Frankie’s “September song,” Art Tatum’s “Autumn Leaves,” and Green Day’s “Wake me up when September Ends”. Driving home suddenly became a red and gold spangled foliage tour, notwithstanding it was pitch dark and the leaves are just beginning to paint themselves.
Y’all know I think life has a soundtrack – music punctuating and defining moments. Yet, as the song goes “I’m not the only one.” … Research shows that rhythm and melody can heal, alleviate symptoms, and sometimes even reconnect those with traumatic injuries, neurological and cognitive disorders. Science isn’t saying toss out the pharmacy and pick up a fiddle – yet, in a holistic treatment plan music can certainly influence outcomes for the better.
Taking the concept of music as a curative – what would you use for those moments, when you need a little healing, “sexual” or otherwise? (I can’t type the word “healing” without hearing Marvin Gaye in my head).
When my youngest was born – I had a playlist in the delivery room that ranged from Glenn Miller to Stevie Ray Vaughn, from Lena Horne to Flatt & Scruggs – and lots of genres in between. So in the past few years, her passions have included the Clash, Metallica, Black Veil Brides, and currently Frank Sinatra during his Big Band years. Like her older sister, each of them can “name a song in 5 notes”, and our conversations are spiked with song lyrics that we all know. The three of us regularly make playlists together for travel, for motivation and all sorts of moods. One I remember my older daughter created, that served through drives back and forth to Hershey throughout the past year, was the “fuck cancer” playlist – the mix of Disney, pop, rock and always Shrek, the Musical made the drives go faster, and drowned out thinking when that was necessary.
Like the girls, I make playlists for all sorts of reasons – for example, I do a fair bit of public speaking, There are several songs that ground, enthuse and serve as my personal “coach in the locker room,” pep talk.
One afternoon, life was just frustrating and we created an “angry girl” playlist full of sass and attitude. The songs are loud, raucous and demand you sing along (beautifully in the girls’ case, enthusiastically in mine). I discovered it is also the perfect workout list – you don’t really slow down.
For me, when I’m working, there is always music playing. I’m not quite as bad as my Daddy, who would have 4 radios/stereos in various locations in his house, generally playing 4 different songs. I kind of get his point, he wasn’t doing the same thing in each room, – so the songs fit the task. I’m not quite that bad, however, if I’m working on a project or trying to find the voice in something I’m writing – there’s usually a song that will trigger my pen.
Of course, there has to be a mushy playlist – songs that are memories of times good and bad. Lush romantic ballads aren’t necessarily our go to songs… Disney princesses offer romance and remembrance, and Glenn Miller brings sweeter sincerity than Mendelssohn or Wagner.
Perhaps, playlists won’t bring world peace or cure the ills of humankind – maybe they are there to remind you to be in the moment with the songs at your back. I think I’ve been ridiculously lucky to have had music all of my life, to have raised my girls with the same joy.
Do you make playlists? Have “that” song you play to tilt the world right?
- Friends on the Other Side (from Princess & the Frog) – the rhythms get stuck in your head, and seeing it live in Disney was beyond fantastic.
- Seven Nation Army (White Stripes – and covers) – the hook on this is now called “iconic”, you cannot be morose when this plays
- Long Road to Hell (Avicii) – I wasn’t sure I would like this song, this artist (Tim Bergling of Sweden), knowing it was electronic and over produced – surprisingly, I haven’t found a song that I want to skip when we’re listening.
- Don’t let me Go (from Shrek) – there is a standing joke that every time the car starts, at some point in the drive whether 5 minutes or 5 hours something from the musical will play.
- Almost There (from Princess & the Frog) – OK, fantastic soundtrack, yes? This “I can do it” number makes me smile every time I hear it.
- Mary’s Place (Bruce Springsteen) – when they get to “let it rain”, “turn it up” part I do… It’s almost a gospel number, full of passion and energy.
- Little Talks (Of Monsters and Men) – so the band name is awesome; Icelandic (who knew?), and this song revs you up so delightfully
- Come Dancing (the Kinks) – it’s quite perfect. Nostalgia, rhythm, it has a wicked hook and I’ve known very few people who could resist it.
- Changing of the Seasons (2am Cinema Club) – leave it to the cool Irish band to create the best breakup song ever created. It works perfectly on every level
- Too Much Too Soon (Green Day) – sometimes called the Sex Pistols of this generation, this song is from the American Idiot album, and mixes anger, pathos & rock rather perfectly
- Bitter (Teddy Geiger) – from the Rocker soundtrack, an unappreciated little delight of a movie, with Emma Stone, Rainn Wilson, and Teddy Geiger, who is a fantastic singer
- Bad Reputation (Joan Jett) – why not? Something about the head-shaking, pulse bouncing rhythms of this iconic rock number shake the cobwebs away
- Till Then (the Mills Brothers) – maybe romantic, it’s just always been a time song for me, making me want to be getting to “that” place – the end of the sentence, the road, the day…
- Sending me Angels (Delbert McClinton) – I first heard this when I was holding a newborn in my arms, looking into her face – and it was the perfect grace note – to this day, hearing it offers a stillness that breeds creativity.
- King of the Road (Roger Miller) – Sunday afternoon, hop into the car and drive. There’s a perfect place to stop, things to see – vistas to share and you’ll find it when you do – an hour, 2 hours up the road.
- Caledonia (Dougie MacLean) – connections found and lost – home as a touchstone for green dreams, lush and fantastical
- Moonlight Serenade (Glenn Miller) – as noted above, this lyrical big band would be a perfect processional – imagine a bride with stars sparkling in her hair – a moonlit Disney princess
- Fields of Gold (Sting) — a song of memory and magic, joy and regret – painting sunset and end of summer in melody and rhythm
- I’ll Cover You (from Rent) – sometimes, like love itself, romantic music surprises you — this song from the groundbreaking musical is like that.
- I Only Want to be with You (Shelby Lynne) – this languid, throwback of a song originally recorded by Dusty Springfield gets a warm and generous rebirth in Lynne’s cover.
Where words fail, music speaks –> Hans Christian Andersen