When a problem comes along
You must whip it
Whip It – Devo
When I saw the prompt I was a bit stumped – I know about the existence of music as a form of therapy but have I ever experienced it? I pondered the subject a little more, visiting Jae’s introductory page & reading her prompt which made me realise that it’s always been therapy to me, just in an informal way.
I listen to music often, in recent years my car is the place I’m most likely to do it, driving to the shops or work or the long journey to my dad’s. I used to visit him weekly which gave me 90 minutes each way of radio time. This kept my ‘hand in’ with modern artists and music trends but also allowed my mind the freedom to wander and think, in a way it cannot do if I’m scrolling through social media.
Classical music can make me grumpy! Controversial statement, and not entirely true = I haven’t really explored it, given time I’m sure I’d find what kind of music lifts my soul. So far I’ve only found things which grate, too shrill with the violins, too heavy and funereal. A voice in my head says “you’re such a heathen if you can’t see the beauty in this” which makes me feel irritable.
Talking to Eve the other day (as she prepared to write a post) she was so passionate about Beethoven and his sonatas. I wanted to be transported as she so evidently is, but it feels like a foreign language, a closed door to me. I’ve a vague memory that Handel’s water music brought me joy when it was played at school – I must investigate.
So my own therapy, gleaned from music, is often a trip down memory lane. I’ll seek out music that reminds me of another time, when my mindset was different. I’ve had loads of fun listening to the 1970s playlist I created after writing a recent post, basking in memories of long hot summers and reflecting on my gradual transition from enjoying simple love songs to those with darker lyrics.
Songs from the ‘80s are a touchstone to my late teens/early twenties, attending parties, dancing in clubs, make up and break up songs. I’ve created several soundtracks on Spotify to suit my mood – some uplifting others thoughtful, the latter type is played when I’m writing.
In the car (which still takes a casette of CDs) I might put on ABBA Gold and belt out Waterloo or Does Your Mother Know to be reminded of less complicated times. If I play early Bryan Adams songs my thoughts turn to meeting my man and falling in love. Listening to the Scissor Sisters takes me back to when my car was new and my youngest, strapped into a child booster seat, sang along. One family holiday, when my eldest child had developed their own taste in music, listening to Mum or Dad’s music was deemed likely to melt their ears. For that week we all listened to early Skrillex and deadmau5 on repeat – I still love Bangarang.
I have ‘housework songs’: tunes where I crank up the volume to listen. These make me feel cheered even when I’m doing something less than fun. Wham! are great for this: Wake me Up & Everything She Wants. Try these songs when you’re hoovering, mopping, polishing, washing dishes or decluttering.
I like the term fight-song, it encapsulates the music therapy invoked when a track helps you pull yourself together, put on your game face in order to feel strong and tough in the face of adversity. A few of my favourites in this genre are: Good as Hell, Here Comes the Hotstepper, The Girls, Shine, Shoulda Woulda Coulda, Livin’ on a Prayer.
I’m inspired to make myself a playlist right now, a selection of songs which help me rally, (because I’m getting stressed at work). Motivational music forms part of the ‘visualisation’ process widely embraced by the sports industry in recent years. Shaping our mindset to focus on a positive / strong / fast / determined / focused version of ourselves is proven to help with our performance. Take an ‘emotional intelligence’ tip from the athletes – if you’re trying to bounce back from a break-up or psych yourself up for an interview or something which feels confrontational, listening to music which makes you feel ‘pumped up’ is likely to help you comport yourself in a positive way.