Love Music: Songs as an aphrodisiac and using music to talk about healthy relationships
Every Valentine’s day, one of my dearest friends, also a music therapist, Darci Fontenot, puts together a list of love songs for her friends to listen to get in the “Lovin’” mood. As the day grew closer this time around, I found myself waiting with excited anticipation of what auditory aphrodisiacs the list would have on it this year. And, I thought it would be a cool way to share the love if I asked other friends about their favorite love songs.
So, in no particular order, here is what I received, beginning with a taste of the “Lovin Mix” from Darci: “Hmmmm... my favorite that is hard but I can tell you I keep finding myself singing “Toothpaste Kisses” (by the Maccabees) and “How Glad I Am,” a cover from The Living Sisters. If I had to pick my favorite love song ever I would probably have to go back to "All You Need is Love' by the Beatles, which is why we played it at our wedding, I love that it is a song about Love, but its speaks about Love in a broader sense (not just love between a couple), and I do believe that Love can be a catalyst for so many great things, and we could all use a little more love in our world. "Love is all you need." Along that same line though, for the (list) I was also really excited when I found Bjork with the Dirty Projectors, (“On and Ever Onward”) that came out last year. I liked how the song was again talking more about love from a broad perspective. Love in nature and Love being ‘all around us.’ “
And now from friends near and far: From Sue, in Boston, “Can't help falling in love with you” by Elvis, “Don't leave home” by Dido, and “I will love you” by Fisher. From Elliott, in Tucson, “‘At Last’ by Etta James is as romantic as it gets.” From Robin, in San Diego, Massive Attacks, “Unfinished Sympathy,” and Lonestar’s, “Amazed.” From Erik, in San Diego, “Let’s Stay Together,” by Al Green. From Lesley, in San Diego, “Anything by Dave Matthews Band”! (So, I picked, “Steady as we go.”) From Dave Good, Columnist in the San Diego Reader; “Nothing profound here: "Dance the Night Away" by Van Halen for the sheer joy and teenage exuberance of it.” From Dr. Gina Simmons at “My husband and I love Michael McDonald's ‘Our Love,’ This song reminds me of the timelessness and permanence of true love.”
Music Therapy Intervention for Teens in Mental Health: Valentine’s Day is a great time to talk about boundaries and healthy relationships. I know, everyone groans when they hear the “b” word, especially if your 15 and in a psychiatric hospital. But, honestly, talking about boundaries with teens can be a little more fun with some love songs. You can play a couple of songs and compare the relationships and boundaries expressed in the songs. Some music is downright stalker-ish (“Every Breath You Take,” no offense to Police), and others are songs that you hope someone will quote from someday (“I’m Falling in Love with You Again,” by Imelda May). This time can also be used to discuss what the perfect relationship looks like. You may even have your client or group make a list of values and what one wants in a relationship. Below, I’ve listed some songs that can be used to explore healthy and unhealthy relationships and breakups.
Hawthorne Heights, “Ohio is for Lovers,” to talk about poor coping with a break-up, but also how it feels to break up.
Aaliyah’s, “Try Again” “Believe,” sung by Cher, “I Will Survive,” sung by Aretha, or “Knock You Down,” by Keri Hilson can be used to discuss more positive coping.
“21 Questions” by 50 Cent is a great song to talk about values, loyalty, positive communication, and exploring the “what ifs.”
For talking about acknowledgement of the pain and acceptance of the end of a relationship, try, “Last Goodbye” by Jeff Buckley.
On waiting until the time is right to be together, you can use, “Hey There Delilah,” by the Plain White Tees.
When I do these groups, sometimes I couple it with a reading. I’ve found that structuring the group around something academic, like a reading from a book is calming and focusing to the group. I’ve used passages from Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff for Teens, by Richard Carlson, Ph.D. One of these is, “Don’t sweat the breakups.” This is important stuff, kids with poor coping and extra stress in their lives can get demolished by teen relationships gone awry. I see a lot of kids who are admitted to the hospital on a 3-day hold after getting into an argument or breaking up with a girlfriend or boyfriend.
WHAT ARE YOUR FAVORITE LOVE SONGS??
Happy Lovin’ Day!
Davida Price, MS, MT-BC
Davida is a psychotherapist in private practice and a board certified music therapist.
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