On this page, you’ll find my blogs about music I love with links to curated playlists on Spotify and Apple Music.
Click a title below to scroll down to that particular playlist:
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Thank You for My Life
This first playlist is meant to accompany the first blog in the author section of this site. It is a playlist of music mentioned in or inspired by my to be published book, Thank You for My Life: The Life of Harry Hay: Pioneering Gay Activist. Note: The playlist contains many songs that were originally quoted in the text but had to be omitted due to copyright issues.
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This is a collection of music I listened to when I was a teenager. Even though I was not out of the closet to myself yet, I was drawn to the genderqueer-themed songs that kick off the playlist(Rebel Rebel, Lola) as well as songs about having an attraction to men sung by women(Magic Man). This was primarily a rock n roll period of my life and there are several songs reflecting teenage rebellion, frustration, and the desire to party and escape, both literally and into altered states of consciousness.
Around song # 100, there is a patch of strange songs by The Mothers of Invention, Frank Zappa, Captain Beefheart, and the Bonzo Dog Band as I loved things that were completely freaked out. Near the very end of the playlist, there is a shift away from rock and into jazz. I first fell in love with Joni Mitchell's music in high school( a love that continues to grow) and she was the bridge to jazz for me via her Mingus album. I deepened my appreciation for jazz as an adult, and simply put the jazz I was beginning to listen to in high school at the end of the list.
Although the concept of the inner child is more commonly known(e.g. not just our childhoods as they are remembered by us but as a part of our current psyches that lives inside us, based on childhood memories), I also discovered that I also clearly have an inner teen. I can feel his rebellious energy very much alive in me as an adult and I sometimes find I like new music that appeals to him more than it does to my adult self. It’s fun to tap into the inner teen, both as an exploration of my internal world and because I’m feeling the impulse towards writing memoirs and this music brings back many memories from those days.
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Songs to Inspire Joy
I’m devoted to the importance of allowing ourselves to feel all of our feelings and appreciate that music can be a space where feelings that can be challenging to experience (e.g. sadness, fear, etc.) are sometimes raised to the level of art and beauty.
That said, I love dancing to joyful music that raises positive energy. For me, it is a play space, a stress shifter, a way to welcome feeling fully alive in the present tense, enter the zone of appreciation and celebration, and allow uplifting lyrics to transform my perspective on life. Enjoy!
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Songs of Time and Impermanence
For me, the multiple ways we experience time(including its passing as we age) and the reality that we live our lives aware of our impermanence are two of life’s greatest mysteries. Some of these songs, including the first one, James Taylor’s Secret of Life, are joyful reflections on time. Others reflect the longing for more time (Jim Croce’s Time in a Bottle), the mystery of seeing stars that are already dead (Karine Polwart’s Terminal Star), and the great mystery of life (Iris DeMent’s Let the Mystery Be).
Many are sad songs about losing people we love, including songs written after the artist’s child died(Judy Collins’s I Can’t Cry Hard Enough and Eric Clapton’s Tears in Heaven). Five songs are specifically connected to stories of people who died of AIDS( George Michael’s You Have Been Loved, Hush, Hush, Hush- performed by Paula Cole/Peter Gabriel on the Spotify playlist and Annie Lennox/ Herbie Hancock on iTunes, Micheal Callen’s- who died of AIDS himself- Do Not Turn Away and Love Don’t Need a Reason, as well as his version of Bernice Johnson’s They Are Falling All Around Me). Harry Belafonte’s version of Danny Boy was one of my mom’s favorite songs. She used to play it on her organ while I sang it with her.
New Journey by Che Apalacha, Spirit in the Sky(sung by Pura Fe), and And When I Die( sung by Alison Krauss, written by Laura Nyro) are some of the songs of acceptance of one’s own impermanence.
Note: Some of the songs on this playlist are only available on the iTunes version as they are not on Spotify. These include the last two songs, Peggy Seeger’s We Watch You Slip Away and Kate Rusby’s My Young Man, which are sad songs about older people’s minds slipping away while they are still alive.
Also, along with gathering songs about impermanence, I gather poems about impermanence. I consider this to be part of my spiritual practice. I'd love for you to share with me your favorite songs and poems on this theme.
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The Drama Triangle: Victim, Villain, and Hero
This playlist is based on one of the central teachings of the Conscious Leadership Group(CLG) in the book The 15 Commitments of Conscious Leadership by Jim Dethmer, Diana Chapman, and Kaley Klemp. We are on the drama triangle when we are in victim, villain, or hero consciousness. When we are on the drama triangle, we are below the line. When we shift above the line, we move into higher states of consciousness. A great deal of the time, people tend to be on the drama triangle and this collection of songs is a reflection of the perspectives we see the world from when we are located there.
The playlist begins with songs from the point of view of the victim, kicking off with Dolly Parton's A Gamble Either Way, in which she states " the first and worst thing I ever did was being born in the first place/ the doctor didn't spank me, he just slapped me in the face." This is followed by several songs in which the song's narrator is coming from a "poor me," "rescue me," or "everyone is out to get me" point of view. Towards the end of the victim portion of the playlist, it moves from the victim in the context of human relationships to victim mentality as it relates to allowing ourselves to become burned out, overwhelmed, stressed out, overworked, and viewing time from the point of view of "not enough"(scarcity). The CLG clearly acknowledges that there are times in people's lives when they are literally victims, but focus on how we tend to keep ourselves stuck in victim consciousness when we are not literally being victimized in the present tense by the way we view the world.
Moving back to the world of relationships, there are a view bridge songs that address both victim and villain at the same time, including Eminem's Love the Way You Lie, featuring Rihanna("just gonna stand there and watch me burn/that's all right because I like the way it hurts"), which deal with the adrenaline rush people get addicted to in emotionally and physically abusive relationships. These are followed by several finger-pointing villain songs of blame, resentment, and revenge. Most of these are in the context of personal relationships, but a few are political(e.g. YG's FDT- "F**k Donald Trump). Janae Monáe's Don't Judge Me is a song of standing up to someone attempting to villainize/judge her.
The hero section begins with Play's song Cinderella in which they resist the troupe of the princess being saved by the hero prince( "I don't wanna be like Snow White waiting/for some prince to come and save me..../I'd rather rescue myself). It's followed by the opposite perspective(yearning for the prince) in the jazz standard Someday My Prince Will Come, covered by Cassandra Wilson. This is followed by songs by people playing the invincible hero who rescues and saves other people. The playlist winds down with several songs that expand upon the concept of hero. From the CLG's perspective, the hero is one who fixes things temporarily but does not bring about fundamental, empowering change. This includes using drugs and alcohol to temporarily feel better rather than as a form of heroing oneself, rather than learning to feel all feelings and deal with life. At the very end of the playlist, the last two drug songs( Sister Morphine by the Rolling Stones and Codeine by Buffy Saint Marie) circle back to the beginning of the playlist as the narrators who used their drugs to feel better have now become addicts who are victims of the drugs themselves.
Listen to the Playlist:
Inner Child Playlist
This playlist is a collection of the music I listened to in my childhood. I have always been obsessed with music. In my baby book, when I was 2-3 years old, my mom wrote "Jimmy likes to listen to teenager music and twirl his barbie doll." I'm told that I used to pretend to be a record player. I'd put the record in an upturned palm, pretend the index finger of my other hand was the needle, and sing my records.
In working with coaches, I've discovered the practice of getting in touch with your inner child, which is not simply the autobiographical you of the past, but rather an aspect of your current psyche that is based on your early childhood. Putting together this playlist was a way for me to become more fully aware of that part of my psyche and it also sparked several memories from early childhood that I hadn't thought about in years. As an author, although I'm not currently writing a memoir, I've been feeling the impulse towards memoir and found that gathering this music gave me access to remembering many specific sensory details from my past. I now see making this kind of playlist as a great tool for autobiographical world-building.
This playlist is a conglomerate of many genres of music. As a child, I had no concept of genre, I just listened to whatever music inspired me. I was born in 1962 and was obsessed with hippies as a kid so that music plays a central role here. Both my sisters and I had lots of hippy records. It's mixed together with little kid music, the music my mother loved, popular AM radio music, and TV show themes.