Soundtracks: Finding Our Voice, Telling Our Story

Before I list the songs that comprise my current top five (for my top 40s), may I share with you some of the ‘dare to dream' lessons learned from this six-part series ‘Tell Your Soundtrack Story'?

1)  Re-listening to beloved childhood music helps us become the hero of our story

As I re-listened to music I loved as a girl, I remembered (I really had forgotten) that I once LOVED making music, playing the piano in particular.  Which is why my recently volunteering/being asked to play the piano every Sunday for the children at our church is such a gift; I'm rediscovering the making of music, and taking back something that I loved.  I'm even toying with trying to compose a children's song.  Any lyricists or poets among you?

As you listen to music from the time in your life when you still knew you were Rachel, what do you remember about who and how you wanted to be?  How can this remembering help you to be the hero of your story?

2)  Are any of the songs/musicans we loved as teenagers the keepers of our dreams?

In his book ‘This is Your Brain on Music‘, Daniel Levitin writes “Safety plays a role for a lot of us in choosing music…To an extent, we surrender to music when we listen to it — we allow ourselves to trust the composers and musicians with a part of our hearts and spirits.”  (Tell Your Soundtrack Story: Career, Motherhood and 9/11)  Remember how each of my soundtracks had a song that I labeled as my ‘imagine and explore' songs, from ‘Everybody wants to be a Cat‘, ‘Play that Funky Music White Boy‘ to ‘Smooth‘?

As you re-listen to music you loved as a teenager, is it accurate to say that these songs felt safe to you?  What did you aspire to be or do that you couldn't share with others, but shared with the musicians you listened to?  Is it time to take this piece of our selves back?

3)  Soundtracks tell the story of finding our voice

It is interesting to me that I loved Helen Reddy's ‘I Am Woman' thirty years ago, but it is striking that my ‘girl power' songs have evolved from the myth of Psyche's head-butting to fleece-gathering ‘girl power'  – whether India.Arie or Zap Mama's songs.

What will your soundtrack say about the finding of your voice?


Virtual Insanity — In the spring of 2005, just weeks prior to my leaving Merrill Lynch, I was in Holland in the back of yet another cab.  Jamiroquai's ‘Virtual Insanity' came on the radio.  I was so taken with the music, I asked the driver to turn the volume up really loud.  This song, more than any other, reminds me of the thrill of imagining and exploring and then daring.

Sweetest Someone that I Know — It wasn't until my husband and I had been married for over 20 years that I heard a song that pinpointed how I feel about him.  It is fitting that this song came from the mind and heart and voice of Stevie Wonder.  It also reminds me that when we as women undertake the hero's journey, the journey only has meaning if it helps us be happy at home.

Miss Q'In – Love the music.  Love the lyrics more.  Zap Mama distills into one song my hope for me and for all women — that we may travel far and wide, seeking to be a princess, but eventually we will realize that what we want is to be ‘me'.  Such a Rachel, learning-to-be-the-hero-of-our-story, song.

For Good — I've written extensively on this song (see Why I Like Wicked below), but at its most basic this is my systergy song.  It always reminds me how happy and grateful I am to have so many women with whom I can share the dreaming and daring.

Beautiful Flower —  India.Arie is herself a huge admirer of Stevie Wonder.  Yet another Rachel, myth of Psyche song.  For more details, see the ‘A Song to dream by' below.


Related posts:

Thank Heaven for Little Rachels

Tell Your Soundtrack Story: Career, Motherhood and 9/11

Second Thoughts on Psyche's 2nd Task

Why I Like Wicked

Tell Your Soundtrack Story: Career, Motherhood and 9/11

In his book This is Your Brain on Music, Daniel Levitin, a rocker-turned neuroscientist, explores the connection between music and our brain, providing some interesting insights on why we love the music we do.

In particular, Levitin helped me understand why Stevie Wonder, who made his way on to my soundtrack as a pre-teen, was still on my soundtrack during my 30s, the decade of launching a career and learning to mother.

He writes, “teenage years are emotionally charged years of self-discovery. Because of the emotional component of these years, our amygdala (the seat of emotion in our brain) and neurotransmitters (transmitters of information from the brain to other parts of the body) act in concert to ‘tag' these musical memories as something important.”

What kinds of music and which artists did you love as a teenager? Now in your 20s, 30's, 40s, 50's, or 60s, do you listen to similar music?

SOUNDTRACK STORY: Career, Motherhood & 9/11

Isn't She Lovely — Stevie Wonder composed ‘Isn't She Lovely' when his daughter Aisha was born. I loved listening to this song as a teenager, cradling my newborns to it as an adult. It is a song that gave utterance for me — and no doubt millions — the importance of connectedness and caring.

Smooth — Definitely the ‘imagine and explore' song in the mix. Not surprisingly this yearning plays out for me via Latin music.

Fragile — Having read Levitin's work, it's fascinating to me that the Police who were so popular during my relatively carefree college days, could capture the sadness, the grief at innocence lost on 9/11. Gratefully, I wasn't in my World Financial Center office to witness the horror firsthand, but I needed (as we all did) to eventually grieve. It was in a taxi, on my way into Manhattan, listening to Sting's Fragile, some weeks later, when I finally cried.

Diggin' Your Scene — Smashmouth's ode to the fictional Sydney Bristow on Alias. As Psyche would have acknowledged, Sydney was about connecting and caring AND daring and dreaming. As a 30-something trying to marry these two, Sydney Bristow was my archetypal gal. Smashmouth says it all.

For those of you who want to explore musical intelligence (as defined by Howard Gardner), you will no doubt find Levitin's book interesting. Levitin also observes that if you want to be a great musician, or great at anything for that matter, practice — not talent — makes for virtuosos.

If you'd like to test Levitin's premise that we hardwire our musical preference as teenagers, check out, a music genome project, which allows you to specify a song you like, and via the matching of that song's DNA to the DNA of other songs, make recommendations. For example, knowing of my fondness for Stevie Wonder, I wasn't surprised that I instantly liked the Brand New Heavies.

Related posts:
Tell Your Soundtrack Story: Pre-Teen – Stevie Wonder On the Scene
Seeing With New Eyes
Tell Your Soundtrack Story: High School, Cheerleading and Finding True Love
What I've Learned by Identifying My Heroes
Asking and Answering the Big Questions

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