Mozart to Eminem, Krudas Cubensi to Mazz Swift, or John Coltrane to Beyonce. Music feeds the soul and no doubt invigorates my passion to rock the word.
Children’s author e.E. Trujillo shared this on Monday – that one source of inspiration for her is music. This is true for so many people; there’s so arguing that a great beat can feed your body with energy or that clear, powerful lyrics can make your brain buzz with ideas. And then there’s that hard-to-articulate quality that music can bring – almost like a magnifying glass or a drop of concentrated flavor – it makes what’s already there just so much…more. What a great source of inspiration for making change!
On this final day of welcoming Laurie Ann Thompson‘s debut BE A CHANGEMAKER into the world, we wanted to explore this idea. BE A CHANGEMAKER is a guide for young people who want to make positive change within their communities and beyond. This is good, hard work. Music helps harness the determination needed to do such work, it fills the room with creativity, and, as Trujillo said so well, it invigorates the passion you need to rock the word – or world.
And so, here are some of the songs that invigorate the EMU mob. Read about why we chose these particular songs and then click on our Spotify playlist to hear them for yourself!
Being a changemaker means having the courage and motivation to get things done. My Get-It-Done music falls into three categories:
- Philosophical. Sometimes, the ability to make change comes from a place of deep faith and serenity, a place of openness and optimism. All Will Be Well by the Gabe Dixon Band is a song I listen to when I want to tap into my better self and achieve that sense of serenity.
- Revolutionary. Sometimes, change comes from outrage in the face of injustice, and the desire to rebel against that injustice. I love a lot of songs with that message, but Muse’s Uprising is the boss.
- Triumphant. Making real change in the world is a slow, frustrating process, so it’s important to celebrate and appreciate every small success along the way. I can’t think of a better song for that purpose than Queen’s cathartic power ballad We Are the Champions.
So I am not a religious person but I am a spiritual person and music, for me, is a spiritual experience. In fact I would say that the soundtrack that has played throughout my life has deepened me, inspired me, and generally made me a happier person.
Here are some of my faves:
- Van Morrison – On the Bright Side of the Road – This song always makes me happy and makes me believe in a brand new day.
- Joan Osborne – One of Us – Her question: “what if God was one of us…just a stranger on the bus…trying to make his way home?” Well, that’s just sheer brilliance.
- Leonard Cohen – Hallelujah – Enough said.
- Rodney Crowell – Earthbound – The beauty of being alive and the irony of being earthbound.
- Bob Dylan – Just Like A Woman – It’s cruel to pick only one Dylan song but it would be even crueler to leave him out.
- Grateful Dead – Sugar Magnolia – This was my seminal song.
- Olu Dara – Okra – African rhythms, simple lyrics, deceptive in their depth; it will get you dancing in the kitchen.
I listen to music pretty much all the time! Movie soundtracks are my favorite. They’re just so spectacular, and they make anything seem possible. I love anything by Hans Zimmer and James Newton Howard. I love Lindsey Stirling and Jake Shimabukuro. Two albums in particular that I love are Audiomachine’s Chronicles and Kerry Muzzey’s Trailer Music 2. I could go on and on!
Samuel Barber’s Adagio (the Kronos Quartet version from the album Winter Was Hard because it’s a nice, minimalist version.) It’s great clear my head music for when it gets too busy up there. And the King’s Singers version of New Day because, not to get too soppy, but it always makes me think of my kids.
The music of Salif Keita always soothes and inspires. Keita has spent his life leading change. Outcast on account of his albinism, he also broke the rules by becoming a musician. This was something he wasn’t supposed to do on account of his birth into a noble family, a descendant of the emperor of Mali. I saw him live once and he opened on a huge stage just his soulful voice and guitar carrying the entire audience as he sang Folon. I love how his lyrics go back and forth between many different languages and show how we are connected.
Penny Parker Klostermann
I don’t listen to music while I work. I like total silence. But when I’m blocked or stuck, I listen to mood lifting music that makes me happy or evokes a creative mood. It helps me get past the frustration.
- I’m Yours/Over the Rainbow by Straight No Chaser (Reminds me of my inspiring EMLA family)
- Happy by Pharrell Williams (snappy and happy)
- Let It Go by Idina Menzel (inspires me to let my creativity go)
- Amazing Grace by Chris Tomlin (I love hymns. I have sung them all my life and I think singing them helps me recognize rhythm in language.)
My song is I Will Survive!
Best disco song ever, and very appropriate for a writer trying to break into publishing. Also appropriate for teens trying to get through their school years – bad breakups, difficult friends, too many bullies, impossible classes – as well as finding their place in the world and making a difference! We will all survive!
Donna Bowman Bratton
When I’m not working in total silence, I generally listen to a six-hour playlist of quiet instrumentals while I write. I’ve found a lot of soundtracks do the trick for me: Pride and Prejudice, Little Women, Dances with Wolves, Shakespeare in Love, and some albums of reading/studying music that contain that even tone I need.
As for inspiration music, here’s what comes to mind – maybe in this particular order:
- The Climb, by Miley Cyrus (before she went off the deep end)
- What Doesn’t Kill You by Kelly Clarkson
- These Are the Days by Keith Urban
- 100 Years by Five for Fighting
- It’s My Life by Bon Jovi
- The Middle by Jimmy Eat World. Publishing is a long journey filled with ups and downs. Patience is your ally. The lyrics to this song have always been a good pep talk during the “downs” of publishing (and other life moments): Hey, don’t write yourself off yet/It’s only in your head/you feel left out or looked down on/Just do your best, try everything you can/And don’t you worry what they tell themselves when you’re awake/It just takes some time/Little girl you’re in the middle of the ride/Everything, everything will be just fine/Everything, everything will be alright, alright
- Right Now by Van Halen. Life is precious, time is fleeting. This song reminds me to act now for the things that matter to me. The best line in the song is “Right now it’s your tomorrow.” That reminds me to keep looking forward, and that what I do today – large or small – makes a difference in determining who the future me will be.
My songs are two versions of What a Wonderful World by Louis Armstrong and Israel Kamakawiwo’ole. They’re just my “feel good” songs. That no matter what terrible things might be occurring, this world has some wonderful things happening in it, too, and it’s worth saving.
Listen to all of these songs here. Really! On a personal note, I didn’t know half of these songs when I made this playlist and after I compiled it I played it through from beginning to end as I worked. I. Was. Inspired. (And I sang out loud and even—don’t tell my kids or you will embarrass them—danced!)
BE A CHANGEMAKER is coming on September 16! Don’t wait! Run out and buy it, and then put on your favorite tunes and get ready to make a difference! You can get your own copy from your local independent bookstore (find one here), or order it from your favorite national or online retailer such as Simon & Schuster, Powell’s, B&N, or Amazon.
And please comment here–or on any post this week–to be entered to win a signed ARC of BE A CHANGEMAKER by Laurie Ann Thompson!