Auset Power Playlist

My Life Between Two Songs

book with songs placed on dark table
Photo by Nothing Ahead on

It feels like my life is poised between two particular songs right now. As I tell you about them, I really want to encourage you to get yourself some playlists – Power Playlists as I like to call them. I invite you to build your own out of songs that give you jolts of encouragement. Choose songs that get you to where you need to go. Not just where you’re apparently heading – but where you truly wish to go.

My best example is the playlist I came up with when I first got my driver’s license. Playing it in my car helped me when I was a new white-knuckle driver, especially when driving on highways and at night.

That list features a combination of songs by India.Arie, P!NK, and Eminem. Don’t ask me! I can’t fully explain the mix. But, I’d be in my car blasting P!NK’s “So What” (I’m Still a Rockstar!). Oh, and “Tightrope” by Janelle Monae!

These songs helped me at night to get from the rooftop parking lot above the train station – to my driveway at home – with joy and a bit of an attitude. I don’t care what anyone says, which I guess just emphasizes how personal a Power Playlist can be.

The India.Arie song “I Am Not My Hair” featuring P!NK is a whole mood. Plus, it turns out that some of the lyrics are from a poem by Rumi – the amazing Sage of Love!  It felt like an extra benediction to have his words flowing around in my car.

There’s another list I had for late nights in the office which included everything from Danny Kaye and Louis Armstrong singing “When the Saints Go Marching In” from the movie The Five Pennies, to Miley Cyrus’  “It’s The Climb”. Seriously, Miley Cyrus from the Hannah Montana years. I mean! But, it worked. And, if it works and it’s positive – work it!

Where I am right now? I’m between two songs. One of them is by Rihanna. It’s the song Sledgehammer. I keep returning to it. I especially pull the video up on YouTube. I put it on full screen and dim the room lights – movie theatre style.

I discovered Sledgehammer when I was creating a new power playlist to give me courage for my writing. I needed it so badly – to do this: write for my website and step out into the public world. Out of hiding. I wasn’t even looking for that song.

The playlist was going to be based on the movie A Wrinkle In Time. The soundtrack with the song “Warrior” by  Chloe x Halle, and “I Believe” by Demi Lovato featuring DJ Khaled light me up every time. The movie talks my experience of Love, The Universe, and Physics so much!

Visually, the thumbnail pics on YouTube had similar production values, visual qualities, or something. One resembled the others in some subtle way. So I had to click on it and check it out. As a psychic, the synchronicity is fitting and profound. Love can call you. Love can lead you forward.

This search led me to the video of Sledgehammer. It’s attached to the movie, Star Trek Beyond. So apparently, I completely slept through this when it came out a few years ago. My apologies to Ms. Rihanna and my compliments and thanks to Miss Rihanna, too. That song is powerful for me. Rihanna even appears as some kind of cosmic Energy Worker in her video. LOL! Sing my life! I Stan! Most of all, I recommend it wholeheartedly to people who are taking on a massive challenge. And especially for those healing from the effects of Childhood Sexual Abuse or any other kind of meanness that’s touched their lives.

There’s an early line in the video where she stares right at the camera, singing: “What could I do to change your mind? Nothing.” For me, it sums up the moment that a criminal chose to hurt me and looked me right in the eyes. We both knew they were making a voluntary choice. Since the villain was in my family and “circle of trust” – it’s the moment when all bonds were broken. Betrayed. Destroyed.

But here are the other lyrics that most surprisingly uplifted me, and I offer them to you:

“I can survive a life that’s without you. And I will rise up from the ashes now…I was bracing for the pain…I gathered all my strength and I found myself whole. I hit a wall, I thought that I would hurt myself. Oh, I was sure your words would leave me unconscious…on the floor, lifeless. But I hit a wall. I hit a wall, and…Watched. It. FALL. You’re just another brick and I’m a SLEDGEHAMMER.”

When I first started writing this post, the second song was “Because of You” by Kelly Clarkson. I’d never heard the entire song, just a snippet from a commercial. But whenever that commercial came on, I’d nearly get neck pain from my head whipping around to stare at the TV screen. The first time I heard the whole song was just now, in looking it up for this post!

Do you know it? Kelly sings: “Because of you I never stray too far from the sidewalk. Because of you, I learned to play on the safe side so I don’t get hurt.” That phrase has been enough for me. SMH. Someone understood enough to put it in a song. I’m sharing about it now because it’s taken me months(!) to write this post. I’m slowest when the writing means a lot to me and the difficulty is reflected in those lines.

There was a part of me trying to keep me safe. I respect that. But it shouldn’t have been necessary. Along with Sledgehammer, it’s one of the two songs I guess you could say I dedicate to my biological father, and it’s not a compliment Arthur. These are just accurate descriptions.  

And, I’m glad that there is a new happy song to replace Kelly’s for me, now. That’s no dis. It is proof that I – and others like me can move onward. I am wishing that progress for all who’ve known blocks, bricks, sorrows, challenges. Part of a Journey is not all of a journey.

And so, the other song? It cracks me up laughing! It’s still big in rotation for me. The song is “Prince Ali” from Aladdin as performed by Will Smith and company. Of all things, Smh.

I can’t quite explain it, but believe it or not it shocks me that this song makes me cry a little bit, too. Can you imagine? Prince Ali?!  How ridiculous is that?! I’m guessing you’ve seen it because the video has over 85 Million views on YT! By the time he says “A bunch of monkeys!” My eyes are leaking. Maybe it’s a joy overload. I think it’s also because when I see Will Smith performing it in the video, I am struck – with all due respect – by his thoroughly adorable “ahs”: the no final “r” in his Philadelphia accent. And, that reminds me of his entire story – or as much of it as I know. Or, at least the trajectory of his life: boldly expressing himself, believing in himself enough to be large and joyful with his life so that it led him to such a perfect role.

As a Mom, I feel touched by how much he looks like his daughter Willow, especially before his huge turban bursts into glittering confetti. Don’t his eyes even look lighter, like hers? I think it reminds me of how his journey went on to include a next beautiful and brilliant generation. And, how can any of us see the added beauty we’ll bring into the world when we are just starting on our journeys – or in the middle of them? Keep going!

Finally, there’s Will Smith’s body language. Especially that part at the end after the sultan gives him the go-ahead for that last verse and chorus. I just love how his body language inspires me to see us all being that way: with arms flung wide open and as fully tall as we are, and as joyful as we can be. Wouldn’t it be nice to have the world welcome and enjoy us being our best selves, too!

So that’s where I am – poised between Sledgehammer and Prince Ali!  Who knows what’s next?

May you find music and media of all kinds to create power playlists that nourish and comfort you along on your own precious journey. May you be your very own best self and positively expressed in the world. May the music even remind you that someone (me!) is cheering for you and wishing you love, healing, and joyous fulfillment.

Deets and Links:

“Sledgehammer” performed by Rihanna/ Written by Jesse Shatkin, Sia, and Rihanna

“Because of You” sung by Kelly Clarkson / Written by Ben Moody, David Hodges, and Kelly Clarkson

Prince Ali performed by Will Smith and the Cast of Aladdin /
Written by Howard Ashman and Alan Menken

“So What (I’m Still A Rock Star!)” performed by P!NK / Written by: Max Martin, Alecia Moore, Johan Schuster

“Tightrope” performed by Janelle Monáe – [feat. Big Boi] Written by: Nathaniel Irvin III, Charles Joseph II, Antwan Patton, Janelle Monáe Robinson

“I Am Not My Hair” performed by India.Arie (featuring P!NK) Written by: India.Arie, Shannon Sanders, and Drew Ramsey

“Warrior” performed by Chloe x Halle written by: Chloe x Halle

“I Believe” performed by Demi Lovato & DJ Khaled Written by: Demi Lovato, Brittany Coney, and Blu June

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