Pearl Makes A List: 5 Songs I Play When I Need to Have a Little Weep and Then Come Back Strong

Pearl Makes A List: 5 Songs I Play When I Need to Have a Little Weep and Then Come Back Strong

Sometimes it’s all we can do to hold ourselves together in these strange and perilous days no matter how hard we work on it. Sure, there are brief times when we are able to momentarily distract ourselves from the debilitating fear that can overtake us when we spend too much time worrying about The Big Picture, like when will it all be over? Or the small details, like can we please use a song other than “Happy Birthday” if we time it out so we’re still obeying the hand washing guidelines? But for most of us, including me, there are too many moments right through here when the crushing weight of our new reality seems about to overwhelm us with a deep sadness for what we had and what we’ve lost. Those feelings are real – so real! – but trust me, they are not going to help you get on with it. For that, you need discipline, patience, courage, confidence, faith and a good soundtrack. Which brings me to this week’s list. Play them in order for optimal effect.

5 Songs I Play When I Need to Have a Little Weep and Then Come Back Strong:

1. “Easy to Be Hard,” from the film of Hair. This song has been recorded many times, but it is in the film version that Cheryl Barnes will break your heart twice before she even finishes asking the song’s initial question: How can people be so heartless?

2. “Many Rivers to Cross,” from the film The Harder They Come. Jimmy Cliff wrote and sings this beautiful song on the soundtrack of the 1972 film in which he plays an aspiring reggae singer who comes to the city to make a name for himself and instead keeps running into those heartless people Cheryl was talking about. His journey does not end well, but this song expresses his wistful hope that eventually it will.

3. “There’s a Place for Us,” from West Side Story. Broadway’s Ben Platt performed this song at the 60th Grammy Awards and made it his own without even breaking a sweat. His delicate and defiant version strikes my ear even more deeply in this moment. 

4. “Over the Rainbow,” from The Wizard of Oz. I can’t say anything new about this classic, except that when Judy Garland sings it, I always feel hopeful. And vulnerable. And that’s as it should be as we head into our closing number…

5. “Seasons of Love,” from Rent. This song, with its unforgettable opening lines, “525,600 minutes/525,600 moments so dear/525,600 minutes/how do you measure, measure a year?”  will give you a huge jolt of renewed faith in the possibility that joy can be found in community, no matter the challenges we face, as long as we stay together. The song’s answer to that opening question is something I believe more strongly every day. “Measure your life in love.”

Share your list of 5 things with Pearl here.


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