Sing Along For Power


I put together this playlist of some of my favorite sing-along songs. Most of them are anthems. Some could be called protest songs. A few of them are just bits of joy. But listening and shouting along to any of them is an act of power.

I experienced it this morning when, clawing my way out of despair, I put on my headphones and walked outside. Something made me search Spotify for A Tribe Called Quest’s “Scenario?” In minutes I was walking faster, roaring along to “Rowr! Rowr! Like a dungeon dragon.” Then playing it again. “Here we go yo! Here we go yo!” Then before it could end finding “Sabotage,” shouting now, “I can’t stand it!” Then queuing new songs reflexively before I’d be left in silence. Racing, screaming the choruses, I didn’t realize what I was doing to myself until, four tracks in, surprising feelings overcame me: hope, strength, energy, determination, confidence. In another word: power.

So I made a playlist to share that power. Listening to music as a source of empowerment seems like a bromide, but it’s not. It’s an operative technique to change your mental state and thereby move you to constructive action.

Our emotions determine our actions, and by changing our emotions we change our actions. If you fill yourself with hope, strength, energy, determination, and confidence (power), your mental state not only prepares you for taking positive action but also generates that action. When you feel able and poised to succeed at a task, you want to complete that task. When you fill yourself with hopelessness, impotence, weakness, hesitancy, and despair, your mental state not only discourages you from taking action but also precludes it. When you feel unable and poised to fail at a task, you want to avoid the task.

If you doubt the truth of the above, try it. Try actively changing your mental state, even for only a few moments. This playlist might be a place to start. Or just trust my example. After 45 minutes of sing-along songs, I fought off my despair and made a list of actions I needed to do rather than sit around stewing in my own anxiety, and I did them. I emailed a distant friend to give my support. I called my representatives and Paul Ryan to insist they oppose Steve Bannon as an advisor to the president. 1You should too. Here’s how and why. I made this playlist and wrote this post to try to spread power.

When you sing along to a hopeful, angry, motivating, or joyful song, it adds your voice to others and makes you part of a community. When we sing along it reminds us that we are still alive, and that we are not defeated. When we sing along, we drown out the fatalists who tell us that, because a terrible thing happened, the worst is inevitable. Who say that it’s naive to hope and to believe that hope can transmute into action and action into victory. The fatalists have already lost. We have not.

We know the scenario. We are the right brigade, and we will rise above, riding the crest of a new wave, a teen age riot that knows that rock n’ roll is free if you want it. We are singing along, and we are coming.

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1. You should too. Here’s how and why.
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