What are Your Power Songs?

 In Grieving, Honorable Closure (HC), Reclaiming Joy, Tools & Resources, Widow's Notes

“He who sings scares away his woes.” – Miguel de Cervantes, Spanish novelist

The fourth step in Honorable Closure is to Reclaim Joy by Inventing Your Next Story. One of the best ways I know to touch joy and move forward is to draw on the mysterious vitality of music.

Last week a friend asked me how I handled the shock of living alone after my husband died (almost four years ago). This friend is newly divorced and hates the hollow feeling of being alone in an empty apartment. Her question took me back to those early months of grief, when I could barely remember to eat, let alone turn on the stereo. When I did put on music, every song pierced my heart as my mind found some way of tying it to what I had lost. How could music be a lifeline instead of an emotional sand trap?

Soon I was taking long drives up the coast singing songs like “Breakdown” by Tom Petty or “I’m A Bitch” by Meredith Brooks at the top of my lungs, the volume so high you could see the car speakers vibrate. It was a great catharsis for my anger. Other times I’d dance and sing in my living room to every Rolling Stones song in Scorsese’s Shine A Light film.  (I well up every time I hear “As Tears Go By” and hoot and holler through “Sympathy for the Devil.” Take this to another level by downloading the lyrics.)

These became my Power Songs, a healthy way to express my emotions and connect to my heart, remembering what it is to be alive, even when living hurts. New music is generated all the time, and whenever I stumbled upon fresh material I was reminded that life moves forward. Did I want to go with it? Yes. Music was the carrot that coaxed me though. It was relief and tonic and drug.

I sent up a flare and asked my hip friends what they were listening to; they responded with everything from rock to opera and invitations to live performances in gritty bars and symphony halls. What emerged was a soundtrack for Life Right Now. I have a catalog of great music that I use to uplift or calm or motivate or laugh or cry to.

The latest scientific research confirms the healing properties of music. The brain’s reward centers respond to music by releasing dopamine, the pleasure chemical that is also ignited by good food and sex. Last year neuroscientists at McGill University proved music’s anti-anxiety properties and associated it with strengthening the immune system. Music therapy is a growing field because it works. But you already new that experientially, didn’t you?

I urged my divorcing friend to weave music into her mornings, which is the time of day that is the hardest for her, and anytime she finds herself alone and feeling blue.

Here are ten of my current Power Songs. What are yours? What music makes you want to sing, shake and step out of the shadows? Prove your hipness and post it here, please and thank you. I’m always looking for new music.

  • Beauty in the World – Macy Gray
  • Same Love (featuring Mary Lambert) – Mackelmore  & Ryan
  • Some Nights/ We Are Young – Straight No Chaser
  • Gracious – Bobby McFerrin
  • Goin’ to the Party – Alabama Shakes
  • Alive – The Black Eyes Peas
  • Workin’ all the Time – The Pimps of Joytime
  • Sex in the Pan – Bela Fleck and the Flecktones
  • Hare Krishna–Thievery Corporation
  • Dancing in the Dark – Bruce Springsteen


Enjoy the Dance of Life!!!!

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Showing 2 comments
  • Robert Gurley

    Moody Blues-Dawning is the Day and The Tide Rushes In, among many othersy; INXS- What You Need; Sarah MacLaughlan- Sweet Surrender; ColdPlay- Spider Web; Collective Soul- Run and others; Turandot- Nessun Dorma sung by Brno Janacek; Holst- The Planets, Jupiter; Gaspar Cassado- Cello suite 1; Gershwin-Rhapsody In Blue; Evanescence- Bring Me To Life; Berlin- TNT and You Dont Know; Heart- Alone and others…
    Happy Day, Robert
    The book I’m writing addresses the beginnings of human singing…fun, glad to get this blog!

    • Robert Gurley

      Chopins Nocturnes…so many more…