Easter Sunday, 2020. The pandemic; the lockdown. A day which should have been about rejoicing, instead was mired in loneliness and worry. And then Andrea Bocelli, the blind tenor who has mesmerized the world with his stunning voice for years, stepped out of the Duomo Cathedral in Milan, Italy, and delivered a musical message of hope, healing and love to Italy, and to the world.
Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me. I once was lost but now am found, was blind but now I see. Twas Grace that taught my heart to fear, and Grace my fears relieved. How precious did that Grace appear, the hour I first believed.
That song about blind faith, sung by that man, telling us to trust in God’s plan … it was a message we desperately needed, and it lifted our souls, let us breathe in faith. Music has that power.
A wise yogi once said; “Music can heal the wounds, that medicine cannot touch.” As our pandemic wounds start to heal, and we return to a semblance of normalcy, I find myself needing to rest and reflect before moving on.
Music is a place I often rest. Since I was a teenager telling my parents they didn’t understand me, then rushing to my room to play Bonnie Taylor’s Total Eclipse of the Heart over and over and over, music has been an emotional refuge for me. The first few notes of Foreigner’s I Want to Know What Love Is brings an immediate memory of a high school dance, lights low, my boyfriend shuffling me around the dance floor. Patty Griffin’s Oh Heavenly Day steeps me in comfort and reassurance. And when I hear Amazing Grace, I move from sadness to peace. Songs trigger my childhood memories, my wedding to Doug, chemotherapy. My playlists sustain me.
In the past year, music was a huge source of connection during a time of cold, lonely separation. The Cleveland Orchestra did a Zoom pop-up concert with musicians socially distanced in popular spots around the city. Opus 216, a group of professional musicians in northeast Ohio, performed in front yards, parks, porches … anywhere people gathered. “When the Lights Come On Again” is a Zoom collaboration of local musicians such as Alex Bevan and Austin Walking’ Cane, in support of local music.
As a yoga teacher and practitioner, having a playlist is a critical piece of a class. I spend hours choosing music for my classes that provoke change and reflect the melody of our beings (yoga teachers are sneaky that way!) Music helps set the class intention, directs the pace of asanas, and lets our minds drift into meditative places instead of worrying if the chicken will defrost in time for dinner. I believe in the power of music to transform my students, and myself.
Now, as we are starting to be able to hug each other and renew the human interactions so vital to our emotional health, we would like to offer you our Soul Stretch playlist, hopefully inspirational, as we walk toward the light. It’s time to start detaching from the loneliness and separation and move on. May these songs carry you to good places, lovelies.
Song 1: The Dog Days Are Over (Florence + the Machine)
Thank you to Westlake yogi, Tom Harrington, for turning me on to the music of Florence + the Machine. Florence wrote this song when she finally accepted that happiness can exist without drugs and alcohol; that the isolation of addiction can be replaced with love. As we emerge from feeling “stuck” in loneliness during the pandemic, let us rejoice in Florence’s lyrics … the dog days are almost over!
“Happiness hit her like a train on a track. Coming towards her, stuck still no turning back. She hid around corners and she hid under beds She killed it with kisses and from it she fled. With every bubble she sank with her drink. And washed it away down the kitchen sink. The dog days are over. The dog days are done. Can you hear the horses? Cause here they come!”
Song 2: Alive and Kicking (Simple Minds)
At its face value, this song is about the enduring qualities of love between two people – patience, perseverance and strength. But I wonder if the “You” might be God, and as such, I’ve leaned on the lyrics to carry me through many a shitstorm, including 2020...
“You turn me on. You lift me up like the sweetest cup I’d like to share with you. You lift me up don’t ever stop. I’m here with you. Now it’s all or nothing ‘cause you say you’ll follow through. You follow me, and I, I, I follow you.
What you gonna do when things go wrong? What you gonna do with it all cracks up? What you gonna do when the love burns down? What you gonna do when the flames go up? Who is gonna come and turn the tide? What’s it gonna take to make a dream survive? Who’s got the touch to calm the storm inside? Who’s gonna save you? ALIVE and KICKING.”
Song 3: Waiting for the End (LINKIN PARK)
We all know how hard it is sometimes to move on, to let go. I like to think the pandemic came to teach us that nothing is in our control, that the stuff in life is just that … stuff. It’s the relationships we have with loved ones and God that lift us up. This is definitely the ultimate song about practicing detachment….
“This is not the end, this is not the beginning. Just a voice like a riot rocking every revision. Like we’re living at the mercy of the pain and the fear. Until we get it, forget it, let it all disappear. Waiting for the end to come. Wishing I had strength to stand. This is not what I had planned. It’s out of my control. Oh, I know what it takes to move on.”
Song 4: Maybe It’s Time (Bradley Cooper)
Or maybe the pandemic came to teach us that “the old ways” are not the”good ways,” and reminds us that it is God’s will in all things. I often remind myself that the pandemic didn’t come just to piss me off, mess with my businesses, and make me miserable. There is always an underlying truth, if we just let go enough to hear it.
“Maybe it’s time to let the old ways die. Maybe it’s time to let the old ways die. Takes a lot to change a man, hell, it takes a lot to try. Maybe it’s time to let the old ways die. Nobody speaks to God these days. Nobody speaks to God these days. I’d like to think he’s lookin’ down and laughing at our ways. Nobody speaks to God these days.”
Song 5: I’m Still Standing (Elton John)
What can I say? This is the ultimate comeback song…in Elton John’s case, it was a comeback from a broken past. For us, it reminds that the pandemic didn’t break us, and now it’s time to make peace with the past, be in love with the present, and be excited … so excited … for the future.
“And did you think this fool could never win? Well look at me, I’m a coming back again. I got a taste of love in a simple way and if you need to know while I’m still standin’ you just fade away. And don’t you know I’m still standin’ better than I ever did? Looking like a true survivor, feeling like a little kid. And I’m still standin’ after all this time. Picking up the pieces of my life without you on my mind.”
Song 6: Remedy (Zak Brown Band)
Now that the shitstorm of 2020 is waning, what are we going to do with all the lessons learned and all the new found information (enlightenment, really) about ourselves, our lives, and the people in our communities and around the world?
“Jesus preached the golden rule. Buddha taught it too. Gandhi said eye for an eye makes the whole world blind. With a little understanding we can break these chains that we’ve been handed. I’ve got the medication, LOVE is the remedy. Pray to be stronger and wiser. Know you get what you give. LOVE one another. Amen, amen, amen.”
Song 7: Oh Heavenly Day (Patty Griffin)
Oh Heavenly Day was the song played in shavasana during my first yoga class in 2011. I remember stretching out on the mat, closing my eyes, and as Patty Griffin sang about “trouble being gone, at least for awhile,” tears flowed. I felt God was telling me that everything was going to be okay, and now, 10 years later, I still am moved to tears by this song and my heart opens.
“Oh, heavenly day. All the clouds blew away. Got no trouble today with anyone. The smile on your face, I live only to see. It’s enough for me, baby, it’s enough for me, Oh heavenly day, heavenly day, heavenly day. No one at my shoulder bringing me fears. Got no clouds up above me bringing me tears. Got nothing to tell you, I’ve got nothing much to say only I’m glad to be here with you on this heavenly, heavenly, heavenly day. Oh, all the trouble gone away, oh for a while anyway. Oh Heavenly Day…..”
Song 8: We’ll Be Alright (Amy Stroup and AG)
There were some dark days in 2020. Some dark nights, too. Times when we couldn’t see a way forward, when discouragement sat heavy on our hearts, when we ached to hug our grandchildren, friends, parents, friends. Somehow a light always came along to lead us to comfort and hope.
“Choirs of stars gather before us, to light the path beneath our feet. Hey courage, be my compass, starts a fire deep within. ‘Cause I run with everything and nothing, even when I don’t know where to begin.
We’ll all be, we’ll all be, we’ll be alright.
Song 9: Speak Now (Leslie Odom, Jr.)
Besides the pandemic last year (as if that wasn’t enough), anger and hopelessness vied with compassion and caring, and sometimes the result was hurtful and violent. Yoga stands on the twin podiums of non-violence and peace, and Odom reminds us that what we do, how we live, what we say matters, to us, to our fellow man, and to our children.
“I swear we’ll never find a way to where we’re going, all alone. Can you hear the angels singing loud? Speak now, speak now. Listen, listen, to the message of hope in the whisper of ghosts. Listen, listen, listen, for the children will grow on the seeds that we sow.“
Song 10: Cover Me in Sunshine (Pink)
The despair and misery the world experienced in 2020 isn’t new. It’s happened over and over again since time began, whether in the form of a war, a pandemic, a natural disaster. People have learned to carry on, carry through. And look for the sunshine, whenever they can.
“I’ve been dreaming of friendly faces, I’ve got so much time to kill. Just imagine people laughing, I know someday we will. And even if it’s far away, get me through another day. Cover me in sunshine, shower me with good times, Tell me that the world’s been spinning since the beginning and everything will be alright. I’ve been missing yesterday, but what if there’s a better place. Cover me in sunshine …”
And finally, Song 11: Amazing Grace (Andrea Bocelli)
“Through many dangers, toils and snares, I have already come. ’Tis grace has brought me safe this far and grace will lead me home.”
Lovelies, we have, indeed, been through dangers and toils and snares this past year. We are finally opening the door to “home.” Which means, of course, that we have to start cleaning house again, wearing a little eyeliner and putting away the ratty sweatshirt we’ve lived in for over 365 days. It’s a trade-off I’m good with!
Music speaks what cannot be expressed.
Soothes the mind and gives it rest.
Heals the heart and makes it whole.
Flows from Heaven to the Soul
Live your playlist, Lovelies and Carry On…