Music Heals As Much As It Entertains

by Kenneth Rayman on June 22, 2019

For a while now I’ve had a project sitting around collecting dust because I just forgot to keep working on it. I started to make a YouTube playlist of songs that are uplifting when you are in the depths of self-depreciation and looking for any light out of your darkness. They aren’t happy “feel good” tunes but songs that you can channel through and reframe your mindset, redirecting the emotion you’re feeling through the music. Basically, they are what’s called “power anthems.” One of the songs on the list was one I cranked the volume up one day while driving through my college campus, before I medicated my anxiety, and felt free for the first time and not worried about anything. I wanted to help whoever listened to it hear within themselves the strength to go on and not give up. I thought it would be a good project since I did a good job of mixing cds when Napster first came out. But as I began, I wondered what songs I was missing along with the proper length of the playlist, deciding to take a break from creating and then never returning.

A few days ago, I randomly decided to listen to it for the first time and had a spark after one my “anthems.” “Fuckin’ Perfect” by the artist P!nk has always elicited a reaction from me, no matter how many times I hear it. Though some may prefer the profanity free version, I think the profanity fits the artist’s personality, vision, and aim of the song’s message. The imagery conveyed in the lyrics is only amplified by the music video that shows an adult looking back on the torment of her youth which she was able to redirect, finding a way to communicate her pain creatively through art, gaining her version of success and ends with her looking at her sleeping daughter with happiness at the imperfect nature of life and love.

The character’s life had started out misunderstood and unjustly punished. Though something such as fighting should never be condoned, she was reprimanded in such a way that she questioned her worth as it was presumed the bully got off scot free. She became introverted having her life ruled by her self-image until she tried in teenage angst to express her true self only to be denied again. As she retreated further, worth was replaced with hatred of self with the image of beauty essentially becoming “worth.” Trying to change once more as a teenager, she reluctantly decides to resort to shoplifting but gets caught, furthering her image issues as classmates saw her getting caught. The next you see is her adult self, anorexic and attempting suicide. It’s implied that she sees a reflection of a life wasted but a chance to redeem, seeing her childhood teddy bear that she had fought the bully for. Changing her physical appearance finally to what she sees as beautiful, she works through her pain, anguish, and torment using her gift of art until finally she’s a famous artist with a loving husband and baby daughter. She had come full circle and had finally found truly meaning through reflection of her life’s journey.  

I resonated with the first rebellion scene personally through its connotation of the parent’s belief of “safe conformity” having had similar experiences growing up I could empathize with. I loved the lyrics at this point in this song because it symbolized what I wouldn’t understand until age 30, much like the character. I had read, at that age, about the nature of thought and reaction to events which, in turn, shape our internal beliefs and dictate our own outcomes. I acted similarly, though thankfully not after a suicide attempt, to reform my life and determine its course by taking control of what I could and not giving mental energy to the things I couldn’t. I found the value within myself when I realized what I truly wanted from life and decided to go head on into it, much like the lyrics say about taking control of the voice in your head. 

I never could watch the suicide attempt without getting physical pain myself as I couldn’t fathom the act, yet still understanding the pain in the decision, and felt the intended impact of the scene through the build-up along with the elation at the turnaround for the character. I’ve written before on the need for self-care in the form of therapy and that can take many forms, like we see in the video with the painting as her therapy and release. For me, it’s writing and personal growth with travel being one vehicle of that therapy, because in it I found what made my heart and mind finally meet in what purpose meant. Travel, though, would be unfeasible as the only option of therapy. I also have a therapist I see on an “as needed” basis. There are things that we don’t and won’t have answers to and need the guidance for which my personal therapy needs represent.

The song is the audible image of self-acceptance, self-love, and self-actualization. I love the way I’ve changed my life, defining my own success and taking charge of what I want instead of doing what I “should.” I now know that “should” represents a “safety” that ends up walling me off to opportunities and life’s directional pull. I will put the link to the YouTube playlist below, as my need to “perfect” it will only delay its release and this article can serve as it’s introduction and plea for someone to use it for their own healing and get the further help they need.

Click here to go to the playlist:
*I own no rights to the music contained in the list and receive no affiliate income from this link