Music that Carries Us — Staff Favorites

Staff Favorites has been a monthly installation of 2019 featuring the mental health and self-care picks of LifeWorks’ staff. Thank you for being on this human journey with us, and for sharing the various experiences, objects, books, music, art and more…. Your contributions have helped cultivate change and offer paths to relief and soothing during turbulence. We’ve been honored to share so deeply and personally with all of you.

For the final installation of Staff Favorites we have decided to share the musical pieces that have carried us through times when we required extra support. Thank you for hearing us and our music.

Matt Amador: That I Would Be Good by Alanis Morsette

It took me years to make it through this song.

“That I would be good…even if I did nothing.”

I started by just hearing the first verse or so and then tuning out until the pan flute at the end.

“That I would be loved…even if I numbed myself.”

Years later, I could hear through to the end, but then that ridiculous jazz flute solo! It was the perfect distraction for me, a distraction from listening and reflecting on what had been sung before.

“That I would be good…even if I were overwhelmed.”

Years later still, that flute solo became the ultimate expression of vulnerability from a singer whom, up until then, had been lauded for rage, reactivity, and going down on her boyfriend in a theater. One day, however, a funny thing happened…This track cycled through on my iPod, I started absentmindedly singing along, and my focus shifted. I was no longer singing along with Alanis; I was singing to myself.

“That I would be good…either with or without you.”

It took me years to be able to listen to this song all the way through without crying, without doubting that its message of being worthy was even possible. From the moment I started to entertain that its message could be possible, the hope it engendered has never been able to let me go.

That I Would Be Good

 

Annie Lennox

Anna McDonald: Little Bird and Dopes to Infinity

I picked 2 songs. I tried to come up with one quintessential song that can encompass what uplifts me, but I think my eclectic tastes in music makes it impossible for me to choose only one. The songs I chose are completely different genres, they are alike because these are songs that not only uplift me, but have also offered consolation in some way; whether I was mourning the loss of someone/something, confused/hurt over a failure of some kind, or setback in life, these are songs that have offered clarity through tears or frustration. I think both of these songs are “cant hold me down” anthems, from the first beats I feel energized and ready to get up and do what I’ve got to do.

Little Bird, Annie Lennox

Dopes to Infinity, Monster Magnet

 

Betsy Duke: Appalachia Waltz by Edgar Meyer and Mark O’Connor

This is one of those pieces that I will listen to at every major juncture of my life and it will take on new relevance and poignance at each iteration. The tension and dissonance of the chord progressions seem to perfectly capture how painful chapters of life can lead us seamlessly from strain to resolution. The work brings tears to my eyes because it wouldn’t be so meaningful without the ache of discord.

Appalachia Waltz

 

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About Elizabeth Duke, Psy.D.

Elizabeth Duke joined the LifeWorks Psychotherapy team in July 2015. She has been trained as an Equine Assisted Psychotherapist and also has had a therapy dog. Clients who are experiencing depression, loss, or long standing difficulties in relationships sometimes find a therapy animal can offer a unique channel of healing that may not require words. Elizabeth is a member of the American Psychological Association; Division 32, Society for Humanistic Psychology; Division 44, Society for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Issues; and Kink & Poly Aware Chicago Therapists (KPACT).