2020-04-29

Try Your Wings - Amel Larrieux

If you’ve been unlucky in love, it can make you want to close your heart off forever. However, the longing to be open your heart again is always there. R&B songstress Amel Larrieux sings sweetly of such musings in her cover of an old Blossom Dearie jazz tune “Try Your Wings”. The song delicately encourages the wounded heart to break free towards romance. “If you’ve never been in love / And you’re longin’ for the happiness it brings / Try your wings.” It uses the bluebird leaving the nest to fly as an example, saying any heart can soar if it takes a chance on a dream.

-J. Jones

Invincible - Pat Benatar

Stand up for justice, standing in the gap for the weak. Pat Benatar’s “Invincible” is a fist-pumping song that takes you to a place of a champion released in 1985. The do-or-die overtones of the lyrics are great to hear during times of chaos, war or rebelling against the powers that be. The rebellious side of me wants to break conformity and embrace being a trailblazer of sorts. All of us have it in us; we just choose to tame our urges. “We can't afford to be innocent. Stand up and face the enemy. It's a do or die situation - we will be invincible.” Fight on, my reader, fight on!

-C. Gatti

When You Come Back Down - Nickel Creek

A few years ago I attended a wedding where the groom performed this beautiful song while his bride danced with her father. It was a beautiful moment with the groom performing a song that expressed the thoughts of the dad whose daughter was going off to experience new things. Both men were considering the thought that the one of the most important women in their lives was going on to experience new things and new dreams. It was one of those moments where I fully understood what a song meant, and the emotional impact that it could have.

-S. Russ

True Colors - Cyndi Lauper

Cyndi Lauper spent the early 1980s being a funky haired rock star with an unusual voice and a slew of hit songs such as “Time After Time” and “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun”. But she showed a softer, sensitive side when she released the ballad “True Colors” in 1986. In it, she encourages a friend who is feeling down, singing, “You with the sad heart / Don’t be discouraged”. It’s the perfect song to dedicate to anyone you know going through a rough time. It’s a reminder to them to get back up and shine because someone out there knows how special they truly are. She sings, “I see your true colors shining through… / And that’s why I love you / So don’t be afraid / To let them show”. After all, their true colors are “beautiful like a rainbow”.

-J. Jones

Video - India Arie

The first I ever heard “Video” by India. Arie in 2000, I remember telling my mother, “Finally, somebody said it.” In a genre that has over-sexualized and objectified women in music videos, one singer stands apart as something fresh, new and bold. India stepped on to the R&B scene with a guitar and dreads, sharing wisdom that women can break free of the illusion of popular beauty and be fully comfortable in their own skin. She declares in the chorus, “I’m not the average girl from your video / And I ain’t built like a supermodel / But I learned to love myself unconditionally / Because I am a queen.” More than ten years later, this song still inspires me to accept myself just the way I am.

-J. Jones

Not Ready to Make Nice - Dixie Chicks

I have a strong personal tie to this song. I went through a tough period with my family, where they didn’t accept who I was and wanted me to change into someone they thought I should be. Not Ready To Make Nice was released that year and truly hit home. I felt like someone was trying to tell me that it was okay to be who I was and that I was a good and deserving person. During this time I constantly questioned my value and self worth. This song helped me identify who I was and solidified my decision of where and who I was going to be in the future. One of my favorite lines in the song is, “Forgive, sounds good. Forget, I'm not sure I could.” Those lines gave me closure and I still repeat them during rough times today. In my opinion, those lines meant to me that I am not bitter for not being able to forget harsh things; I’m just human.

-A. Guzman

Express Yourself - Madonna

“Come on girls! Do you believe in love?” It’s the siren call of Madonna’s 1989 smash hit, “Express Yourself.” Even the “Queen of Pop” knows that it’s easy to get lost in the whirlwind of romance and it’s easier to lose sight of yourself and your needs. That’s why Madonna wrote “Express Yourself”. In it, she voices the need to be yourself and not be afraid to speak up for what you want – even if that means losing the other person. It’s a brilliant display of independence within relationship. She declares in the chorus, “Don't go for second best, baby / Put your love to the test / You know, you know, you've got to / Make him express how he feels / And maybe then you'll know your love is real.” It’s the boost of confidence every woman needs to be fiercely independent and still in love at the same time.

-J. Jones

Change - Blind Melon

Blind Melon’s hit “No Rain” was literally inescapable in 1992. The happy sounding, yet lyrically depressing, tune took the band to a level of popularity that would lead to their undoing. Before that though, the group penned the song “Change.” “Change” is a song about finding hope in the darkness, a song about not giving up on your dreams not matter how bleak things look, and more than anything else, it’s about finding meaning in life through everything that changes. It is hard to find inspiration during those times, but “Change” inspires us to look for it in everything, no matter what others might say. It’s a shockingly mature song for a band not known for that, but it is even more powerful due to it.

-S. Russ

Amazing - Kanye West

The title describes this song best…amazing. This song helps me stay motivated to do great things and gives me the energy to run the last mile in my workout routine. This song spews almost a cocky egotistical persona that everyone needs a small dosage of. After I listen to this song I immediately feel like I can do anything and that any task, no matter how hard it may seem, is attainable. Everyone, at some point, needs to feel like they are in charged and can do it all; this song helps me feel confident and energized to conquer whatever is in front of me. Life has taught me that anyone can do anything with a positive attitude and self assurance; amazing is the assertion that everyone needs.

-A. Guzman

I Believe - Frankie Lane

“I Believe” is perhaps the most recognizable inspirational song of the 1950s – sung by soloists in thousands of churches and recorded by Elvis Presley, Barbara Streisand, Andy Williams, Dolly Parton, Perry Como, Johnny Cash and Mahalia Jackson – to name just a few. Commissioned in 1953 by British TV host Jane Froman, it was the first hit ever introduced on TV. Teen sensation Frankie Laine -- better known for his iconic theme to the TV show “Rawhide” -- sang the hit version, which stayed a record 18 weeks at < on the Singles Chart.

-R. Kerby

Forever and Ever Amen - Randy Travis

"Forever and Ever, Amen" was released in 1987 by country music artist Randy Travis, written by Paul Overstreet and Don Schlitz. Sincere and inspiring, it was Travis's third No. 1 single on the U.S. Billboard Hot Country Singles charts, won a Grammy for Best Country & Western Song and then earned a Academy of Country Music award for Song of the Year. The words “Forever and ever. Amen," are the final words of the Lord's Prayer. “Amen” is Hebrew, and signifies “faithful or true.” Some scholars say is formed from the first letters of “adoni melech neetnan,” which mean” My Lord, the faithful King.”

-R. Kerby

Keep On the Sunny Side - The Carter Family

“Keep On the Sunny Side” has been around for more than a century, but was popularized anew in the 2000 movie “O Brother, Where Art Thou?” It was written in 1899 by Ada Blenkhorn, then recorded in 1928 by the Carter Family – from whom Johnny Cash’s wife June Carter Cash was an offspring. Blenkhorn was inspired to write the song by a disabled nephew who always wanted his wheelchair pushed down "the sunny side" of the street. It became the Carter’s theme song. Founder A.P. Carter's tombstone has a gold record of the song embedded in it.

-R. Kerby

Unwritten - Natasha Bedingfield

The message behind “Unwritten” is exactly that…unwritten. Life is what you make of it and we should live our lives with our arms wide open so that we can get the most out of our journey. “Today is where your book begins the rest is still unwritten.” We all make our own destiny, while many have more obstacles than others; all dreams are attainable otherwise you wouldn’t be able to dream it. This song made me realize that you can carve your own path and sacrifices in order to make wishes come true. An unwritten life allows us to make changes to our dreams as we get older because our needs change. That’s the beauty of an unwritten life, you’re the author and have the power to do whatever you wish.

-A. Guzman

Holding Out For A Hero - Bonnie Tyler

“Holding Out for a Hero” by '80s Welsh singer Bonnie Tyler will not only get you moving, but infuse you to tackle the impossible! If you’ve seen the movie Footloose released in 1984, you might remember it on the soundtrack. This jam inspires me to stop wishing situations would change and make them change. This sounds counterintuitive, as song is demanding a hero to rescue the damsel in distress. I will speak to the inner hero that resides in us. It’s the champion that all of us need to awake within when times are dark.

-C. Gatti

Superwoman - Alecia Keys

“Holding Out for a Hero” by '80s Welsh singer Bonnie Tyler will not only get you moving, but infuse you to tackle the impossible! If you’ve seen the movie Footloose released in 1984, you might remember it on the soundtrack. This jam inspires me to stop wishing situations would change and make them change. This sounds counterintuitive, as song is demanding a hero to rescue the damsel in distress. I will speak to the inner hero that resides in us. It’s the champion that all of us need to awake within when times are dark.

-C. Gatti

When You Believe -Mariah Carey and Whitney Houston

When “When You Believe” from The Prince of Egypt released, people were mostly dazzled by the first-time duet between two powerhouse divas: Whitney Houston and Mariah Carey. However, the real gem of that song is in the lyrics. “When You Believe” talks about hope in dark places and waiting on a voice in the silence. The chorus says, “There can be miracles when you believe / Though hope is frail, it’s hard to kill /Who knows what miracle you can achieve / When you believe somehow you will…” It’s a song about faith and trusting that good things can still happen and a miracle is always within your grasp.

-J. Jones

Beautiful - Christina Aguilera

“Beautiful” is one of the most recent ballads to appear on our list, and with good reason. Christina Aguilera, who has received her fare share of criticism, fired this ballad back at those who disagreed with her “edgier” career progression since her days on the Mickey Mouse club. Her response? It doesn’t matter what you say, this is who I am and I am confident in that. She was true to herself, and with this song she encouraged others to be comfortable with who they are even when it is difficult for others to relate to. Given how many teenagers feel like they are struggling with who they are, this is a message that is worthy of our list.

-S. Russ

Born to Run - Bruce Springsteen

Listening to “Born to Run” immediately takes me to the highway, driving a sweet car just getting out of town and escaping from all the stress of life. While that isn’t always realistic, listening to the song makes me feel like I can get to that point in my life – and sometimes that’s enough. The Boss’s gravelly voice, the Big Man’s huge sax solo, Max Weinberg’s driving beats, and the E Street bands carefully crafted symphony all combine to make this the most inspiring Bruce Springsteen song yet. It’s difficult not to smile during most of his material, but if you saw me listening to “Born to Run” I would have a huge smile plastered on my face the entire time. I’m going to go jam it right now!

-S. Russ

Man, I Feel Like A Woman - Shania Twain

This was the seventh single released from the Come on Over album. The song was written by Mutt Lange and Shania Twain. While the song is fun and carefree, it is also liberating. “The best thing about being a woman, is the prerogative to have a little fun.” Being able to let your hair down and have a good time can be a refreshing and make all the difference in a woman’s mundane yet stressful life. I can relate. As a mom, you get caught up with being a maid, cook, doctor, accountant, and whatever task you have to perform that day. Being able to have a night out with my best girl friends makes a world of difference and helps me remember refresh my mood and overall outlook.

-S. Russ

A New Day Has Come - Celine Dion

I believe in holding on to songs that give you hope for the future. A single gal and quite unlucky in love, I discovered Celine Dion's "A New Day Has Come" in the early 2000s. The first verse tugged at my heart as she sings, "I was waiting for so long / For a miracle to come / Everyone told me to be strong / Hold on and don’t shed a tear". She goes on to share, "And the world thought I had it all / But I was waiting for you". "A New Day Has Come" is about the light that love can bring into a weary life. I've long regarded this song as one of my all-time favorites. And although, my wedding day is still just a dream, every time I hear this song it reminds me that a new day, full of love, is on its way.

-J. Jones

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