Playlist Therapy: Find Meaning in the Music


Record Heads

There are few times more exciting than finding that favorite song on the radio. The tune that reminds you of the thing, that reminds you of the place, that reminds you of the person.....and you're there. Music has the power to elicit powerful responses- thoughts and feelings about our past, present and future. For many of us, that soundtrack, playlist or mix tape is a map of our lives. No matter your age, putting together a playlist to tell your story can be a guide to understanding what matters in your life.

This example playlist was created from songs that were sent to me about important moments, grief, joy, wisdom, failure and THE Boston Red Sox. Each song tells a bit of story about the sender's life- areas of great accomplishment, the best time ever, or even remorse and loneliness. Whatever the tone, examining songs that are important to us can help us illuminate what we really want, what areas challenge us, and how we can grow.

1. Dancing Queen-Abba

Many of us have felt the pull of the dance floor, and the freedom that comes with it.

2. Celebrate-Kool and the Gang

"It was big in 1980 and 1981....Lot of sports champions in Philly those years, I was graduating high school and my soccer team was champs of our conference....Good Times!!!"

3. Sweet Caroline-Neil Diamond

Every New England sports fan will get the gravity of this selection, and has probably sung this at the bar a time or two. Good times never seemed so good........

4. The Boxer-Simon and Garfunkel

The fighter still remains: never give up.

5. I Will Survive-Gloria Gaynor

For many, I Will Survive is an anthem about staying strong and moving on.

6. Ooh La La-The Faces

Rod Stewart's famous lament, "I wish that I knew what I know now, when I was younger," reminds us of the the mistakes we could have avoided with the wisdom we have now.

7. Colour My World-Chicago

This was one writer's wedding song, in 1975. They are celebrating 40 years together.

8. Hard to Handle-The Black Crowes

For many of us it's not so much the lyrics, it's the link to a person, time or place. This entry had not so much to do with the lyrics, but a 22-year friendship and Hard to Handle as a shared theme song.

9. Creep-Radiohead

Eloquently expoundig about life on the outside of belonging- being a creep, a loser.

10. Whenever God Shines His Light on Me-Van Morrison

"If you live the life you love, you get the blessings from above." Enough said.

11. Can't Keep it In- Cat Stevens

This respondent identified with the overflowing sense of hope and joy that is contagious in this song.

12. Magic-The Cars

Sometimes a song resonates for a variety of reasons, and stays with us throughout our life:

"I cannot hear that song without instantly becoming so *happy*. A couple reasons: that music video - when I was a kid… it was a sense of wonder to me. I remember my parents even being impressed and wanting to watch it. For many many summers, driving to the beach a friend's step-father's tiny little pick-up truck blasting The Cars and singing - windows rolled down, young, happy, playing this song over and over. Third, my husband and I love it and sing it to each other. Fourth - it's just a f*$&# great, fun song."

13. Ooh Ooh Child-The 5 Stair Steps

A song of hope, and a brighter tomorrow. For some it's a personal anthem, others a wish for a better future for all.

What's on your playlist? Do you have a one for happy days, challenging times, or inspiration? Put your soundtrack together (or encourage your children or adolescents to do so) to find meaning in the music and help illuminate what matters and what motivates.

Share your thoughts: send playlists, music anthems or noteworthy songs to melissawardcounselingservices@gmail.com


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