kerravonsen: Gregory House listening on earphones: "Listen" (listen)
[personal profile] kerravonsen
I was going to say "happy songs" but they aren't just happy, they are songs which try to be encouraging. I'm pondering the nature of encouraging songs, and the different approaches they take. Some of them mean well, but end up being DIScouraging instead.

There are a whole pile of "encouraging" songs that I'm not going to list here, which I find more irritating than anything. They're the ones which declare that "you are special" and that all you have to do is just go for it and believe in yourself and everything will work out. No. To "believe in yourself" may be a necessary condition, but it is not sufficient. These songs can be downright discouraging, because they imply that success is as easy as snapping your fingers to summon the right attitude, and that after that, there won't be any problems. Far too naive and simplistic for me. Almost bordering on blame-the-victim, too; that if you don't succeed, there is something wrong with you because you weren't optimistic enough.



But here are some other songs that I do find encouraging, in a rough order of least- to most- helpful.

"This Is My Fight Song" (Rachel Platten) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xo1VInw-SKc and look at the Piano Guys instrumental version at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mOO5qRjVFLw

This one has an upbeat chorus, and it speaks of struggle, which is good. This is an "I'm plucky and you aren't going to stop me" sort of song - good for the able-bodied and those whose self-doubt is small, whose main obstacle is the doubt of others. But when it speaks of strength, and the bit in the video where everyone Is pumping their muscles, that gets me in the mindset of tensing up and gritting my teeth and enduring... and I've had enough of that. There is only so far that stubbornness and grit can take you. I've had many years of stubbornness and grit... and grit wears you down eventually.

"The Rose" (Bette Midler) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QCt7RvEkK8s

Sometimes this one makes me cry in despair, and sometimes it lifts me up. "When you think that love is only for the lucky and the strong" is one of my favourite lines in this. Its a "quiet hope" sort of song.

"Don't Worry, Be Happy" (Bobby McFerrin) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d-diB65scQU

I'd forgotten that Robin Williams was in this video. The irony there is that there was a persistent rumour that Bobby McFerrin had committed suicide, while he is alive and well... and it's Robin Williams who ended up taking his own life.

But, back to the song itself. This gets kudos for being funny and silly. One line I dislike is "when you worry you bring everybody down." I don't like it because it is negative - not only are you worrying, but you're supposed to feel guilty about worrying - that is not helpful! But otherwise it is great fun. I'd forgotten how much utter fun the video was (since I usually just listen to the recording I have).

"Everything is Awesome" (Lego Movie) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=StTqXEQ2l-Y

I'm certain one is supposed to be sick of this song - that's how it was presented in the movie. But when I saw the Lego Movie for the first time, with my niece, when we were talking about it afterwards, I said "I'm going to enjoy this song for as long as I can, before I get sick of it" and every time I'm tempted to get sick of this song, I remember that, and decide not to get sick of it. Yes, it's a silly song, because, really, not everything is awesome, but it is so fantastically upbeat.

"Try Everything" (Shakira) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c6rP-YP4c5I

This is another one of those keep-on-going songs, ones that don't account for doubt or weakness, but the thing I like about it is that it does account for mistakes, and that nobody gets it right the first time (not even birds flying).

"Shake it off" (Taylor Swift) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nfWlot6h_JM

This one has much good about it. The subtext of the video is that you don't have to be perfect, even when surrounded by people who are much more skilled than you are - just be yourself. The other more direct message is that you don't have to worry about things that are out of your control - such as the behaviour of other people. Which is true.
Sometimes I don't have the emotional resources to be able to "shake it off", but it's still a mostly-helpful song.

"Another Train" (The Poozies) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3I-7nraIrrY

This song is rather poignant -- and I can't help but think of Daniel Jackson when I listen to it, since the first time I encountered this song was a Daniel-themed vid, perfectly fitting for him. While this is also a keep-on-going song, it isn't one of those bouncy upbeat ones; it's more cautiously hopeful: "There's another train. There always is. Maybe the next one is yours...". It isn't so much about starting again as it is starting from this moment, from now; not to let the past drag you down, nor fear of the future paralyse you. Just take the next train.

"Level Up" (Vienna Teng) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U4n_8R5lKnw

This is lovely. While it is again one of those get-up-after-you've-been-knocked-down kind of songs, it does have some gems of wisdom, about opening up and being vulnerable instead of closing down.
"so long as you can feel it all,..so long as all your doors are flung wide"
"yes, you are only one...no, it is not enough..but if you lift your eyes, I am your brother"

"I can see clearly now" (Johnny Nash) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FscIgtDJFXg or the cover by Jimmy Cliff https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MrHxhQPOO2c

I was singing this song on the trip back from a spiritual retreat I went to many years ago. It was just that open and hopeful and suited the occasion.

"I think I can make it now, the pain is gone
All of the bad feelings have disappeared
Here is the rainbow I've been prayin' for
It's gonna be a bright (bright), bright (bright)
Sun-Shiny day."


"It's Gonna be Okay" (The Piano Guys) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5pBjopDymts

Of all these, this one is my current favourite. Why? Not just because it is upbeat, but because it speaks to my situation, where self-doubt and negativity is the biggest enemy, and my survival depends on trusting that it is "gonna be okay", but that I don't have to grit my teeth to do so.

"And there is a battle raging in your heart but, you must win.
It comes for all of us, saying we are not enough.
So fight for your life, the world's gonna try,
To sell you some lies."


And that I will survive because I have survived.

"No matter what you’ve been through here you are.
No matter if you think you’re falling apart.
It’s gonna be OKAY!"

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Kathryn A.

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