I don’t listen to music very often, not like I did in high school and college, when every song on the radio had some meaning to me. All of them reminded me of a person or place or event. I dated band boys and swooned when they sang to me on stage or wrote songs based on my poetry.
Nowadays, I rarely know the songs on the radio. I listen to audiobooks and podcasts more than music. I’m not sure when that happened, but it did.
I don’t dislike music. As a matter of fact, music is one of the most powerful magics on earth. Music is an audible miracle. But it isn’t a miracle I can manipulate, so maybe it scares me a little. Words that paint pictures and shape ideas are magic too, but they are a kind of magic I know something about. I can make magic with words. I can’t make squat with music. I’m tone deaf and baffled by my 11-year-old’s ability to pull notes out of thin air.
Recently, I was shopping with a friend, absent-mindedly picking through Target clearance racks, and she mentioned creating a mood CD as a gift. I’ve done that before, and it’s really fun to collect songs you think will match where someone is in life.
Or where someone needs to be.
I cannot manipulate music, but music has always been able to manipulate me. It can change my mood.
With this in mind, I’ve been playing my son’s favorite tunes on a speaker via Bluetooth in the mornings. He struggles with mornings, and if Christian rap will help everything run smoothly, I will endure Christian rap before I drink my coffee. That is how much I love my child.
Recently, I even stumbled upon an app that indexes your iTunes account, dividing your songs into playlists by mood. The app is called eScape. According to its algorithms, the vast majority of my music can be labeled depressed, stressed or aggressive, followed closely by excited, happy and bored. Only a whopping nine songs fell into the peaceful or chilled categories.
This isn’t a new concept. It’s right there in the Bible, in 1 Samuel 16: Saul’s advisors said, “This awful tormenting depression from God is making your life miserable. O Master, let us help. Let us look for someone who can play the harp. When the black mood from God moves in, he’ll play his music and you’ll feel better.”
As I march into 2016, I have been thinking a lot about daring. I want to be brave. I want to take risks. I want to chase the dreams I have dreamed forever and the new dreams God gave me in 2015.
It’s like I’m writing a character in a story, and that character is me, and that story is one where the protagonist fights the battle against herself and the obstacles life throws at her, and she doesn’t just win, she stands on the mountaintop, flag planted, and claims her life as her own again.
I want to be her, and I am going to be her.
When I write a character in a story, I try to get inside her head. I want to think how she thinks and feel how she feels. One way I do that is to create a playlist of songs I think fit where she is within the bounds of my story. If I’m struggling to get inside a character’s head, I play her music and I find her voice there.
If I’m writing a story where I am the protagonist, and I want the protagonist to be brave, to be fearless, to be on a mission to conquer the world and become everything God intended her to be, then I need a bunch of songs that make me feel daring.
Not being a music person, as I explained at the start of this post, I decided to call in reinforcements. I asked my Facebook friends, including many of you, to tell me what songs make you feel daring.
I’ve chosen ten of the songs that will be going on my personal playlist for 2016:
10 SONGS TO MAKE YOU FEEL BRAVE
- “This is Me,” Demi Lovato – Teeny bopper Disney movies can offer a lot of wisdom.
- “Brave,” Sara Bareilles – I think the name says it all.
- “Defying Gravity,” Idina Menzel – I adore this musical, and when I hear this song, I am taken back to how I felt watching it unfold on stage.
- “Fight Song,” Rachel Platten – Words aside, there’s something about the beat that makes me want to shake my fist and climb a mountain.
- “Oceans,” Hillsong – I listen to this in Spanish. Since learning Spanish is a big part of my “daring” this year, I think that makes it fit perfectly.
- “Brave,” Moriah Peters – I love a strong female voice.
- “Girl on Fire,” Alicia Keys – Again, I love strong female voices. There’s nothing wrong with male singers. I have a bunch of songs by men in general, but it seems this particular playlist is pretty heavy on daring women.
- “Make Me Brave,” Bethel – The lyrics are a lot like “Oceans,” but it has a different feel that makes it its own.
- “Born to Fly,” Sara Evans – This song always makes me feel happy. It makes me ache to follow my dreams.
- “Dive In,” Jennifer Knapp – This is a song I play often. It reminds me to dive into my own life, to quit “standing on the edge of myself.”
Honorable Mention: “Sing, Fight, Cry, Pray, Laugh, Work, and Admire” – Pieter Embrechts (from which I learned that bewonder is Dutch for admire, and how gorgeous is that word)
So, what songs would be on your “daring” playlist? What songs make you feel brave? I’d love to add them to my list.
*originally published on Middle Places