Songs That Lift My Mood

My son and I both suffer from clinical depression. After years of dealing with strange misconceptions about the illness, I’ve begun to fancy myself a mental health advocate. Logan and I have agreed–if sharing our stories with the world help people, we’re happy to share them. This openness with our mental health has caused problems in the past. People do not understand. When you say you struggle with your mental health, people either think you’re dangerous, or your credibility becomes shot through with holes. It’s extremely frustrating. So, every now and then, I use this little platform I’ve developed to simultaneously attempt to dispel a misconception, while also providing help. 

Now, firstly, there are levels of depression. There are depths of depression that nothing can dispel short of medication, therapy, and time. But sometimes, we feel ourselves dipping low and can pull the reins before we get that far. Sometimes we can’t, but when we can shift the trajectory before we get too deep, it’s good to try. I tend to use music to try to lift my spirits when I’m in this headspace. This obviously won’t work for everybody, and if I’m honest, it doesn’t always work with my son, so this is hit and miss. But if music helps keep you from spiraling, or if you just want a mood pick-me-up, here are the songs that turn my mood around. 

Life In Color by One Republic

A song about feeling dejected but finding a light at the end of the tunnel? Well, it certainly couldn’t get more on message than that, could it? With lyrics like “Well this is life in motion/And just when I could run this race no more/The sun bursts, clouds break/This is life in color” how could you not feel uplifted?

High Hopes by Panic! At the Disco

We play this song every morning to get Logan in the right brain space to take on the world. “Had to have high, high hopes for a living/Shooting  for the stars when I couldn’t make a killing/Didn’t have a dime but I always had a vision/Always had high, high hopes/Had to have high, high hopes for a living/Didn’t know how but I always had a feeling/I was gonna be that one in a million/Always had high, high hopes.”

Battle Symphony by Linkin Park

Sometimes you just need a reminder that sometimes things are bad, but you can get back up and keep on moving. I sing this one to my baby when he feels overwhelmed by bullies. “I’ve been searching for the courage/To face my enemies/When they turn down the lights/I hear my battle symphony/All the world in front of me/If my armor breaks/I’ll fuse it back together.” A little reminder to keep fighting never hurt anyone.

Best Day Of My Life by American Authors

This one is basically a self-fulfilling prophecy rolled up in a song. How bad can your day be, if you start it singing that it will be a good day? Well…probably worse than the BEST day…but, you can lift your spirits with HOPE! “But all the possibilities/No limits just epiphanies.” And don’t forget the Woah-oh-ohs. This song is just fun times.

Uptown Funk by Bruno Mars

Whatever, this song is just fun. No uplifting message, just a fun beat. Don’t @ me.

Sharp Edges by Linkin Park

Yeah, another Linkin Park song. And we’re not even gonna discuss the fact that their more uplifting songs were on their final album with Chester Bennington. We’re just not. Either way, you can’t deny the hopeful nature of lyrics like “We all fall down/We live somehow/We learn what doesn’t kill us makes us stronger.” Motivation to keep moving, provided by someone who knows damn well what a struggle it can be.

The Climb by Miley Cyrus

Another one that motivates you. “There’s always gonna be another mountain/I’m always gonna wanna make it move/Always gonna be an uphill battle/Sometimes I’m gonna have to lose/Ain’t about how fast I get there/Ain’t about what’s waiting on the other side/It’s the climb.” Now, sure, it sounds just like my eighth grade valedictorian speech (I’m not joking), but half the joy of listening to this song is hearing how country Miley gets when she says “get there.” Trust me, it’s adorable.

I Love Myself Today by Bif Naked

Because you should. Always. “I’ll stand right up/Spit shine my soul/I’m gonna be proud and loud and outta control.” Hell yes. Sometimes, you just have to lose control. And the scream after the chorus makes that line even better.

Shake it Off by Taylor Swift

Yes. I, too, am ashamed of myself. There went my whole effortlessly cool vibe.

Good Life by One Republic

This one is fun, but it’s less about the lyrics and more about the fun background music that brings a smile to my face.

Second Wind by Kelly Clarkson

Another great reminder that even when people have something to say about you, even when you can’t get things right the first time, there’s always another chance to get it right. “You can’t forget about me/While you weren’t looking I was gettin’ even higher/ Say what you want about me/Your words are gasoline on my fire/You can hate me, underestimate me/Do what you do ’cause what you do don’t phase me/Just when you think I’m at the end/Any second I’mma catch my second wind.”

It’s Time by Imagine Dragons

A song about rising above your past and growing, while always remembering where you came from? It doesn’t get more in tune with my personal inspiration buttons than that. And with lines like, “The path to heaven runs through miles of clouded hell right to the top/Don’t look back,” you could bet on this one being on my list. A poetic retelling of my life story? I’ll take it.

Crazy by Meredith Brooks

Most people remember Brooks as the person who sang all about being “a bitch,” but this is my favorite song of hers. It’s so much fun, and all about encouraging you to be exactly who you are, and how everyone tells you to do that, but only on their terms. “You say don’t change a single thing/but your list is longer than my day/I can’t help wondering/When all is said/And all is done/Am I the crazy one?”

Machine by Imagine Dragons

This one serves as a reminder that I’m not trapped. Sometimes, when the world is raining down on you, or life keeps throwing you one responsibility after another, or the establishment is just getting you down, you need a reminder that you’re not just a cog in the machine. You are the machine–just as capable as running things and causing trouble as anyone and anything else. Or maybe that’s just me. Either way, between its deep meaning and its rollicking beat, this is a new favorite. “Cause I’ve been wondering/When you gonna see I’m not for sale/I’ve been questioning/When you gonna see I’m not a part of your machine/Not a part of your machine/I am the machine.”

Rough Draft by Sarah Solovay

It could be that this is writer or artist specific, but this particular song tickles that part of me while also making me generally happy. A reminder that every person is a work in progress, this song plays with that idea with references to common issues with early drafts, and how changes can create masterpieces. It’s just so cleverly written and has a wonderful message. “So if you want me you got me/Granted I’m scattered and sloppy/But you can’t send me back/I’m just a rough draft/So cut me and crop me/And when I’m ready make copies/And one day/The real thing might blow you away.”


What are your favorite pick me up songs? Post them below. Maybe you’ll lead me to some new favorites. 🙂

iTunes Shuffle Challenge, Part 1

Hi all,

Recently, I ran into two different iTunes Shuffle challenges that intrigued me. One was this one, in which you pick the first ten songs off your shuffle and write your first thoughts upon hearing it, but only for as long as it plays. Once it moves to the next song, so do you. I jumped into it full force, and I wanted to share the results with you, as I feel like it might give you a peek into my crazy mind. The second one will be the one I work on in my next blog post. We’ll talk more about that then.

Without further ado, here are the results of my iTunes Shuffle Challenge, Part 1.

Renegades by X Ambassadors, Album: VHS
Cover for X Ambassadors Album VHS

When I hear this song it makes me think of the artists in my life, of how odd we are, of how rare. When you’re young, it can be hard to see how happy your life can be, because odd means bad when you’re in school. You’re never allowed to explore that, unless you have a very special teacher, but even then, your peers are apt to shut you down. It isn’t until you get older that you can finally free yourself up to be comfortable in your own skin and to start being who you are. It took me until I was thirty to truly figure myself out, to openly embrace my geekiness, my artsiness, my open heart and different way of thinking from others, and just accept that as one of the things that make me who I am.

 

Slow me Down by Emmy Rossum, Album: Inside Out

Cover of Emmy Rossum's Album Inside OutThis song is so about me. My little sister, Megan, introduced me to it and I clung to it. “Sometimes I feel that I might disappear/in the blur of fast forward I falter again.” it never fails to remind me that sometimes I need to take a breath and stop racing through my life, trying to do more than I can handle.

 


Take On Me by A-Ha, Album: Hunting High and Low

Cover for A-Ha's Take on Me
This song has such odd memories associated with it. For one, I remember loving the video. Also, the bridal party of my best friend’s wedding did a whole semi-choreographed dance number to this song and it was a frickin’ blast. It didn’t even bother me that I was dancing while six months pregnant. I stand by the fact that the wedding was the best wedding I’d ever been to, even if the marriage didn’t end up working out. It was also one of the very few times I got my husband, Ismael, to dance with me. I think those times are: my wedding, my best friend’s engagement party, and that wedding. There may have been one or two others, but I can’t remember…

Counting Stars by OneRepublic, Album: Native

Album Cover for OneRepublic Native
This is one of the first songs I’ve ever heard where I never heard the song, bought the album because I love the band, and suddenly heard my favorite song from the album on the radio! It’s also one of my son, Logan’s, favorite songs, so we sing it often when we’re in the car.
“Hope is a four letter word,” might not be the best message for him, now that I think about it. But he loves the pace. It did give me the opportunity to explain metaphor to him. He didn’t understand why the singer says “everything that drowns me makes me want to fly”. So I explained that he actually means that everything that pulls him down makes him want to lift himself up. It was fun to discuss the idea that art isn’t literal and can be open to different interpretations. It was much earlier than he would learn it in school, and it was fun to give him that lesson.

The Entertainer by Billy Joel, Album: The Essential Billy Joel

Album Cover for The Essential Billy JoelThis is one of those songs that, for me, takes a minute to remember. I have this because I bought the album, and really barely remember it, which makes sense, since it came out in 1974, eight years before I was born. Still, after a longer listen, I did actually recognize it, and now I really love it, because the lyrics truly encompass what it’s like to work in the arts–any of them. I’ve been an actor and I’ve been an author, and really, it’s all a battle to stay relevant. Plus, it’s Billy Joel, and he’s just awesome.

Firework by Katy Perry, Album: Teenage Dream

Cover Art for Katy Perry's Firework
I love this song. Sure, it’s Katy Perry, and a little more pop than most of what I listen to, but I have a very eclectic taste in music, and pop is a part of that. Still, this song is a great inspirational song.
“After a hurricane, comes a rainbow/maybe the reason why all the doors are closed/so you could open one that leads you to a perfect road.” Man, I have listened to this so many times to remind me that I just need to keep going. Eventually, I’ll find my way, my perfect road.

The Energy Never Dies by The Script, Album: No Sound Without Silence

Album Cover for The Script's No Sound Without SilenceAnother great song. This one means a lot to me because it is an expression of my viewpoint on life. One, that we should live each day to our fullest, and two, that if we live our lives that way, we create lasting impressions on those around us that can serve as inspiration…what we leave behind never dies. Now, on a less serious note, this song starts and ends the same way. One time, I had it playing in the background while I was working and I didn’t realize that the approximately four minute long song had been stuck on repeat for the last fifteen minutes. In the back of my head, I just assumed it was a much longer song than I’d realized. Because I am ridiculous.

Animals by Maroon 5, Album: V

Cover Art for Maroon 5 Album VThis song is proof positive that there are some songs where I’m completely engaged with the lyrics, and others that I listen to without a single thought. It’s also proof positive that you don’t think about how dirty lyrics are until you hear a little child voice singing them. YIKES. He did manage to unwittingly change the lyrics in a way that made it sound like they were about an actual animal eating someone, and that helped a lot. I still avoid this song like the plague when I’m in front of him. Sooooooo disturbing. Still…I’m singing along. These lyrics are SO wrong.

Fighter by Christina Aguilera, Album: Stripped

Cover Art for Christina Aguilera's StrippedOh, you mean my theme song? It definitely gets me in the mood to do battle with my day, and reminds me how I’ve gotten as strong as I am. I have had a number of unfortunate encounters with toxic people who I’ve had to completely remove from my life. People who claimed love or friendship and held on just to pull me down. I love this song for reminding me why I’m smart to put people like that in my past. “After all of the fights and the lies, cause you’re wanting to haunt me, but that won’t work anymore.”

 

The Secret’s In The Telling by Dashboard Confessional, Album: Dusk & Summer

Album Cover for Dashboard Confessional's Dusk and Summer
For one, this song reminds me of my best friend’s Dashboard Confessional phase, which is how I have all of their songs. It’s also on my Keys and Guardians playlist, set for a very specific scene that I can’t really talk much about. But I love when a song channels a specific moment in a story, and everytime I hear it I am transported to the part of my imagination that dreamed that moment up.

 

That’s it for now! See you again next post, when I use songs from my shuffle as mini-writing prompts.