Tuesday, 23 April 2013

Music Therapy

This post is dedicated to my dear friend, Autumn. A  fellow patient and Foo Fighters fan who's doing it tough right now. Send her some love. I hope things pick up for you my friend and you find some relief. xx


(My old battered copy of, One by One. Well used and well loved.)

I've been having another rough patch over the last few days. Just another trough in the usual roller-coaster ride that is Dysautonomia. Fun times. I have been perfecting the art of woe-is-me, hidden under the bed covers. Going for gold, people. None of this half-arsed whinging for me. In between moments of dramatic self-pity and swooning, I have also been playing my 'feel better' playlist on loop. All in the hope it'll pick me up and start me on the road back to normal levels of crap health. It's not the classic 'feel better' list, filled with touchy feely, treacle tunes, that most expect. Whilst I do have a typical emo list that I can sob away to at need (and lets face it ,we all need to do that at times), most of my 'feel better' list is far more rocky.

Music plays a huge part in my life as it does the lives of many. And my musical tastes are eclectic to say the least. I have a variety of playlists and artists that I follow, all of whom fit my differing moods. Some days you need a bit of alternative acoustic or jazz classics and yet other days you need to lose yourself in an 80s power ballad or some kickarse rock tune. In amongst all these tunes I have a small select collection of songs that rise above the others. Songs that have resonated with me from the first time I heard them played. There is something in the lyric, or the rise and fall of the melody, that just connects. I couldn't necessarily tell you why. But that song was there at just the right time. That magical moment when mood, need and music collide.

I often wonder if artists truly realise the impact their songs can have on the lives of those who listen to them. People who they will likely never meet, but are truly grateful that they took the time to pen those particular words and then, to share them with the world. That the three or four minutes of cracking beats and well-crafted words they create, can help people through the toughest and best times of their lives. I hope so.

Does it matter that what I find in the song may be different from the intent, or inspiring event, of the artist? Or does the fact it stirs something in me, something personal and visceral, fill the artist's intent? In turn emphasising the power and gift of both song and song writer? To be able to create something that stirs other people and resonates years after it is written is a gift and one I hope the artists know we cherish.

What stirs me may mean nothing to others. Similarly, what stirs others may remain a mystery to me. That is the power of music. We all have a need to be lifted up when times get tough and there is always a tune somewhere that'll be up to the task. An artist who speaks to your heart in just the right way.

One of my favourites came up on my newsfeed today and I immediately had to click play. You see when any of those central pick me up songs, comes up in my newsfeed, or I hear a snippet in a shop, or on the radio, I find myself reflexively singing along. Mostly under my breath or when I am having one of those completely oblivious days, singing out loud no matter who's around. And always that same feeling is evoked and everything just feels better. Just like smells can bring back memories, music for me can bring back a whole range of emotions.

Times like these, by the Foo Fighters came up today, and it is one of my seminal songs. Actually, I have a few Foo Fighters' songs in my list, Best of You and Walk are also known to be played loud when I am having a shocker of a day. But today it was Times Like These and I found myself singing along before the video even began.

   
I love the rockier version, but this acoustic version brings the words to life for me.

I've loved this song from the first time I heard it in my pre-sick days. And now that I am ill it has become a staple of my collection, and one to which I always come back.

I am a one way motorway
I'm the road that drives away
then follows you back home
I am a streetlight shining
I'm a white light blinding bright
burning off and on.

It's times like these you learn to live again

It's times like these you give and give again
It's times like these you learn to love again
It's times like these time and time again.

I am a new day rising
I'm a brand new sky
to hang the stars upon tonight
I am a little divided 
do I stay or run away
and leave it all behind?

It's times like these you learn to live again
It's times like these you give and give again
It's times like these you learn to love again
It's times like these time and time again.

The chorus just rings true for me. "it's times like these you learn to live again". Being sick it is easy to feel helpless and hopeless. But it can also be a time to relearn and reinvent yourself.

I didn't plan on being so ill. I didn't expect to spend my 30's as a medical guinea pig. I didn't expect to require a wheelchair or cane or a gigantic dosette box to house my ever increasing pill collection. For a long time I let that weight bear down on my shoulders at will, and felt defeated.

But I sit here almost 40 and realise that I have learnt to live again. Not just live, but enjoy life and all aspects of it. I don't enjoy it despite the painful and darker parts. I enjoy it because of them. Those harder aspects of life make the good parts shine even brighter. They serve a definite purpose in my life in that I now have an appreciation for the little things that make me happy. Things that I would have missed before. They forced me to re-evaluate my life and my perceptions and to realise that enjoying life is a choice, not defined by my life circumstances.

And all of that is captured in that one song.

I have no idea if that was what Dave Grohl or the Foo Fighters had in mind when this song was recorded, but it is what I take from the lyrics. Those words and the music they are so carefully wrapped in, hold all that and more for me. I don't care if anyone else can understand that. This is my song. You can have yours. I know that Dave Grohl will never know how much his words mean to me. That this slightly strange woman from Australia, sitting on her couch surrounded by dogs and coffee mugs, hears that song and it works like a panacea for the soul during those tough times. He will never know, but I am still thankful that he wrote them.

Cheers
Michelle :)

Are you a Foo Fighters fan? Or do your tastes run in different directions? What are some of your favourite pick me up songs?

16 comments:

  1. Loving the music therapy post! I do a bit of volunteering with music therapy at RMH because music plays a massive part in my life! Up until 2011, music in my life was purely listening based but now it's a mixture of listening and playing!
    I'm a massive fan of chasing cars by snow patrol, collide by howie day, winter by joshua radin, anything by laura marling, ed sheeran, pete murray or passenger, gotten into gabrielle aplin lately, love the lumineers, this old love by lior, new slang by the shins, loving of monsters and men. Just so much music!!!

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    1. YAY to music therapy. I used to love sitting in with the sessions back when I was working. The use of music as therapy is so underrated. Watching stroke patients who couldn't speak actually sing was amazing and they were so proud it was brilliant. Loving your music choices. Must admit I listen to a lot of those too and I really love a lot of the Oz bands and artists of the last few years like Angus and Julia Stone. But I still find myself returning to the same batch of songs for that real burst.

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  2. Love, love, LOVE this post!! I too enjoy The Foo Fighters. Pre-sick days music was a small part of my life; I'd listen, tap along, maybe even sing a little. Now, music has a whole new meaning for me. I have to say that I really began to listen more to music and the lyrics when my late mother was ill. I'd be in the ICU (while she was in a coma) and sing Bruno Mars' "Just the Way you Are". The day of her passing, I held her hand and sang "I Can Only Imagine" by Mercy Me. Music plays such an important part in my life now. I have different songs for different people. Just like with my mom, whenever I hear Mercy Me, I will always lovingly think on her. For my hubby, I have songs. Two of my favorites are "Chasing Cars" by Snow Patrol and "Nothing Without You" by Phil Vassar. I have songs for each of my children as well. I hope as well that the singer/songwriter really understands what a footprint they leave on us listeners. I think I could write a book on the wonders of listening to music, but I'll save you from that. So thankful for you and your blog, for being such an encouragement even in the midst of feeling so crappy. It's pretty sad when we look forward to getting back to our "normal levels of crap health." I surely hope this time passes quickly for you and you are back to beltin' out some great tunes! Be well.

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    1. I love that you have songs for different people. I think there are some that just instantly connect in that way. They represent the person or a moment with them. Music can mean so much. I saw someone on the Twitter mention defending the music that you love even if others don't like it or agree. I have to concur, music is a bit like a relationship, it is special in ways that only you know and often you can't even articulate why it's special, but that doesn't matter. Just love it for what it means to you :) PS chasing cars seems to be a really popular choice. I must admit I love it too. xx

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  3. I, too, have quite the eclectic music loves to get through the rough days. Everything from English and Irish "folk music", to Byzantine Chant and almost anything in between (I think rap is the only music genre that doesn't click with me)... on particularly bad days though (don't laugh) I head right for Christmas music - Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra and the like... no matter what time of the year. :) For me, it's like a big hug, and a reminder that everything is going to be okay -- no matter how awful I feel... :)

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    1. I love that you chose Christmas music on the bad days. If White Christmas doesn't cheer you up nothing will. I must admit I quite like the chants as well, I don't understand a word of it but it is uplifting. xx

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  4. When I am having a crappy day I blast music with a good beat. I get lost in the rises and the falls, concentrating on nothing else but the music.

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    1. YES! I've been playing Happy by C2C all day today love it. Hard to feel down when it's playing.

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tvY7Nw1i6Kw

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  5. I am a huge music fan before I had kids, now as they get older, I am trying to get back into playing my music not the Wiggles!!! Love the Foo Fighters & Dave Grohl.

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    1. Argh The Wiggles. My kids are older and I still have flashbacks to Hot Potato and Dorothy the Dinosaur. Here's hoping that you soon have more adult music and less songs about Big Red Cars :)

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  6. I've loved the Carpenters since I was young and find Karen Carpenter's voice soothing. Don't judge me. Okay, judge away. I also really like the Foo Fighters, so can we still be friends?

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  7. Music has sooo power. It can uplift us and stir up emotions. It inspires us and just sometimes takes the pain away.

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  8. I love this post Michelle - I completely get the benefits of music. It's been my solace through some tough times, that's for sure. My music of choice is more danceable - Jamiroquai sets my spirits soaring every time!

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  9. I pick a theme song each week, something that relates to what is going on for the week. I also encourage clients to find their soundtrack in life. Music is so very inspiring.

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  10. I come from a family of musicians and we loved reggae mostly. But I have different genre for different moods. This week I'm sick so on comes the classical channel, lol. Have you ever turned on classical music while driving? Sooooo snobbish, makes me feel posh haha, like those ads for expensive cars.

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  11. Music is a wonderful thing isn't it? I hope your friend got through her tough patch

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All who are lovely enough to comment should be showered with cup cakes, glitter and macarons. I promise to use my spoon bending mind powers to try and get that happening for all who are lovely enough to share their words. Those who go the extra step to share posts should really get a free unicorn. Or at least the gift of finding the shortest and quickest line at the supermarket on a regular basis. xx