Bibliotherapy: Popular Song Lyrics For Stamina

"I took a little journey to the unknown

And I come back changed

I can feel it in my bones

I messed with the forces that our eyes can't see

Now the darkness got a hold on me

Holy darkness got a hold on me”

-Meet Me in the Woods by Lord Huron

Bibliotherapy Meets Music

Bibliotherapy is the process of using literature to process life events. Most professionals think of it in terms of a four-stage process used with books, but my natural inclination since I was younger was to use it with song lyrics

“Kick start the golden generator

Sweet talk but don't intimidate her

Can't stop the gods from engineering

Feel no need for any interfering”

-Can’t Stop by the Red Hot ChiliPeppers

While some of us pay more attention to song lyrics than others, it’s enjoyable to spot lyrical themes emerging in different kinds of music. Today I’m going to reference songs that make me feel physically powerful, even if I’m in a vulnerable state. 

The Last Time I Needed Stamina

“I'm a monster, I'm a maven

I know this world is changing

Never gave in, never gave up

I'm the only thing I'm afraid of”

-Amazing by Kayne West

Let's be clear. When I made the goal to attempt a natural birth with my firstborn, I had no plans whatsoever of referencing Kayne, whose arrogance disgusts me. (Not a chance. Most of his recent quotes and behaviors are bazaar and not admirable at all.) That being said, I made several playlists of music I thought would help me through. And lyrically speaking, you can bet “Paranoid” and “Amazing” made the list.

I listened to self-created lengthy music lists for months leading up to the birth. “Angst to My Gusto” and “Gusto Power” were two lists that went along with “Relaxing” and “Moving Memories.” 

“If you touch me, well I just think I'll scream

'Cause it's been so long, since someone challenged me

And made me think, about the way things are

Made me think, about the way they could be”

-Touch Me I’m Going to Scream Part II by My Morning Jacket

The day of the birth? My plan went out the window. I wanted absolute silence. I ended up making up my own chants and odd sounds that took me to some place ancient and bazaar.

Even though music wasn’t present, I can’t help but think the time spent with these lyrics and lists did something to me. Something to do with confidence.

"Hold on, hold on, hold on, hold on"

-Hold On by Neko Case

Side note about aiming for a natural birth:

When it comes to birth, I think every woman has the right to do whatever she wants without judgement. If my second baby is not in an ideal position, I’m completely open to a C-section. If I labor for hours at home and arrive at the hospital to hear I’m only 3 centimeters dilated, I’m open to an epidural.

And if I labor at home for as long as I can and arrive with my midwife saying, “$#@% $^&*! Be happy you didn’t have the baby in the car!” I will be ecstatic to have another natural birth. *I'm writing this post way ahead of time. By the time this comes out, some version of one of these three will have happened!

Natural Birth: What it Has to Do With Skydiving and Long Distance Running

My first birth, I had no idea what to expect. I drew upon my experiences with long-distance running and skydiving in an attempt to psyche myself up and not psyche myself out. It may just be my own experience, but I found the comparisons to resonate pretty closely. Chemicals in the body are powerful. They know what they need to do. It’s hard to know whether the mind is in control or whether something else takes over. 

“The walls are bending shape

They've got a Cheshire cat grin

All blurring into one

This place is on a mission”

-Jigsaw by Radiohead

That being said, have you ever done something hard before, but you are not sure how you will accomplish it again? The fact you’ve done it before should give you confidence, right? 

Or maybe now you just know how hard it is?

Whether running, making an album, learning from past business mistakes, or aiming for another natural birth -  I never want to be cocky while searching for inner power. 

(Sure. I’ve run 14 miles before, but last time I tried to run a mile it didn’t go well. Consistent preparation matters.)

Stamina, Power, and Music Therapy

“Don't be sad, won't ever happen like this anymore

So when's it coming, this last new great movement that I can join?

It won't end here, your faith has got to be greater than your fear”

-11th Dimension by Julian Casablancas

Music therapy is another discipline used to help process life events in terms of something outside ourselves. Just like how bodily posture can impact our confidence (check out this moving TED Talk), research about music’s impact on the body is fascinating and underutilized. 

For me, a powerful beat makes me sit up straight and arouses my attention. This probably creates a feedback loop where I put myself into the mindset of someone or something that is grounded and powerful, causing me to almost “fake it until I make it.” 

Steady as She Goes!

"When you have completed
What you thought you had to do
And your blood's depleted
To the point of stable glue
Then you'll get along."

-Steady as She Goes by the Raconteurs

Whether we realize it or not, sometimes we gravitate towards what we need without knowing why. For example, I have several athletic friends who aren’t really into music very much unless they are doing a physical activity. Then they need music by their side, and they naturally gravitate towards it.

“So let go

And jump in

Oh well whatcha waiting for

It's all right

'Cause there's beauty in the breakdown”

-Let Go by Frou Frou

Even without structure or clarity, music combined with bibliotherapy (or song lyrics) can be the psyche's way at grasping for a dynamism - awakening a person's personality ideal and carrying them through difficult moments.

It’s hard to describe what the songs referenced here did me for the months leading up to my birth and the months after. And I’m pretty sure - none of them were ever written with birth in mind. 

“How long, baby, have I been away?

It feels like ages though you say it's only days

There ain't language for the things I've seen

And the truth is stranger than my own worst dreams

The truth is stranger than all my dreams

I have seen what the darkness does

Say goodbye to who I was

I ain't never been away so long

Don't look back, them days are gone

Follow me into the endless night

I can bring your fears to life”

-Meet Me in the Woods by Lord Huron

Do you have favorite songs or lyrics you turn to while doing difficult physical tasks? Please share them below!


5 Replies to “Bibliotherapy: Popular Song Lyrics For Stamina”

  1. Interesting article. While I don’t generally listen to music while doing difficult physical tasks (or any type of task for that matter), I do use it to motive and inspire creative endeavors. For example, in advance of say writing or making music, I’ll crank the tunes to get myself in a more creative, more focused place and aurally boot out any distracting thoughts. I guess it’s a primer of sorts, but it works flawlessly.

    P.S. – Has the new little one arrived yet?

  2. Some great bands here (btw Neko Case is with an “e”). Mainly Lord Huron, I’m a HUGE fan of them! Music motivates me big time but it’s all based on mood – ACDC to workout, classical or instrumental jazz to write blog posts, and Americana like Lord Huron to design by.

    Great post!

    1. Thanks for the correction Dave regarding Neko. I was thinking this post might resonate with you. I certainly think of Lord Huron as my go-to pregnancy music that will always remind me of this period during my life. When it comes to 2020, I definitely think the song “Stranger” brought be a lot of comfort. “I can’t trust anything or anyone these days…” Sounds about right.

  3. i can’t say i have music around for hard physical tasks like long distance running. i’m pretty old school and don’t even own a portable music machine or ear buds. i do listen to ace frehly’s KISS solo album or KISS alive II if i’m in the kitchen cooking for more than 10 minutes.

    i also keep on new orleans all day every day at my work desk. i’m glad you found something that works for you. i haven’t had a baby but i’ve had kidney stones. i should have tried some tunes because there is no medicine for those except time and pain.

    1. I know people who are really against listening to anything on walks or runs around here. They see me blasting my music or podcasts like a boom box and probably are severely annoyed. I certainly understand their perspective, but I know I’d walk less without the entertainment, so I’m an annoying distracted millennial in that sense!

      Ouch to the kidney stones! I never thought about that and hope to never know more. I hope to have most physical pain behind me (at least for awhile).

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