Quick! Pull out a piece of paper and a pencil, and get ready to write a list. Don’t give it a lot of thought, just write what pops into mind when you hear the instructions. Ready, set, go! Write down the titles of five songs you love.
Perhaps what you have written will say nothing about your state of mind, but then again, like a Rorschach test, maybe it will.
Here’s my list:
- Lean on Me – Bill Withers
- Don’t Rain on My Parade – Barbra Streisand (Funny Girl)
- My Way – Frank Sinatra
- Every Little Thing Gonna Be Alright – Bob Marley
- I Hope You Dance – Lee Ann Womack
That’s a pretty empowered, positive, happy list! Whew!
As a single woman, I’m glad it wasn’t this:
- It’s My Party and I’ll Cry If I Want To – Lesley Gore
- You’re So Vain – Carly Simon
- You Talk Too Much – Joe Jones
- 50 Ways to Leave Your Lover – Paul Simon
- Alone Again (Naturally) – Gilbert O’Sullivan
But here’s the deal, if that second list is what I had written, I would be glad to be aware of it, so I could try to create a happier playlist for my life.
Anne Lamott is an author I admire. She has written both fiction and nonfiction. In her most famous book, Bird by Bird, she talks about Radio Station KFKD thinking you will find the F word – in the past tense – in those call letters. She warns us, “If you are not careful, station KFKD will play in your head twenty-four hours a day, nonstop, in stereo.”
She also says the best way to change the station – “other than the combination of extensive therapy, Prozac, and a lobotomy, is first to notice that the station is on.”
While Lamott is talking about the negative self-talk a writer might give his/herself, it applies equally to negative thoughts in any situation. Such thoughts spell trouble! As your parent or elementary school teacher might have admonished while wagging an index finger at you, “You better change your tune!”
Let’s face it, thanks to COVID-19, political issues, racial issues, climate-change issues, etc., 2020 has been a stressful year. We have been listening to station KFKD nonstop, and its funereal dirge is not only unpleasant, it’s harmful to our mental health.
But what can we do about it?
I’ve written a blog about having a positive mindset, and I’ve written a blog on the how-to’s of getting happy, but this piece takes me somewhere else, to a specific antidote to try during these stressful times: music therapy.
- You possibly have lots of experience in the past at making mix tapes. Make one now.
- You possibly have lots of happy memories involving music. Remember them now.
- You possibly have a special song with a special someone. Sing it now.
Or, if you prefer, use my happy music:
- Put On a Happy Face – Dick Van Dyke (Bye Bye Birdie)
- Here Comes the Sun – The Beatles
- Everything Is Beautiful – Ray Stevens
- Dancing Queen – Abba
- I Could Have Danced All Night – Audrey Hepburn (My Fair Lady)
- Joy to the World – Three Dog Night
- What a Wonderful World – Louis Armstrong
You can also feel free to borrow this musical memory: I went to a Barry Manilow concert at an outdoor venue in Cincinnati. Of course, it was pouring rain that night, and the concert was delayed. When Mr. Manilow finally came on stage, he arrived in a hot pink dinner jacket and matching umbrella, and he sang, Singing in the Rain. He brought down the house!
During these dark days, may we all find our hot pink dinner jackets and start singing again.
If you like my musical taste, you’ll enjoy my book, Love, Loss, and Moving On. My Sirius radio station, 60s on 6, is the backdrop for the story.