I was on my way back from a most unexpected trip to Planet Breast Cancer and, since running is not my favorite thing, I needed to develop a playlist to keep me moving in the exercise portion of my treatment. Scientists have now officially discovered what we all already knew:  that music has an amazing ability to “take you back”, on a deep emotional level, to time and place. Like the pre-iTunesalithic era mix tape, made by your best friend for your roadtrip to the beach, this list still speaks to me of the milemarkers along the way.

I was shocky and uncertain at first, dealt what felt like losing cards in a hand I couldn’t fold, but Pat Benatar’s battle cry helped me to pull it together, for four minutes at a time, which honestly was not nearly long enough, but at least it was a start. Songs about my chances (of recurrence, of survival, of ever feeling normal again) were the breakup songs from my on-again, off-again relationship with Statistics and helped me to appreciate my chances even if I wished the numbers were better. I came to deeply appreciate Melissa Etheridge’s anthem which spoke authentically as only a fellow survivor could, and when I heard her sing, “I run for hope,” it was easy to keep running: for my daughter Hope, and for my daughter Libby too; she was only five that summer, so when “Bad Day” came on the car radio, she would insist that we sing as loudly as we could so maybe it wouldn’t be one. I didn’t say the songs had to be good. They just had to help me get by.

It is like an audio travelogue now, reminding me of each phase of the journey from the beginning to, well, to today. We won’t know the end, for a long time I hope; we’ll see, one day, sooner or later, where it ends up. For now, little darling….it’s been a long, cold, lonely winter. But here comes the sun.

Invincible (Pat Benatar)

this bloody road remains a mystery
this sudden darkness fills the air…

what are we running for?
we have a right to be angry
what are we fighting for?

we can’t afford to be innocent
stand up and face the enemy.
it’s a do or die situation – we will be invincible

I Run for Life (Melissa Etheridge)

it’s a blur since they told me about it
how the darkness had taken its toll
and they cut into my skin and they cut into my body
but they will never get a piece of my soul

and now I’m still learning the lesson
to awake when I hear the call
and if you ask me why I am still running
I’ll tell you I run for us all

I run for hope, I run to feel
I run for the truth, for all that is real
I run for your mother, your sister, your daughter, your wife
for you and me my friend
I run for life

This One’s for the Girls (Martina McBride)

this one’s for the girls
who’ve ever had a broken heart
who’ve wished upon a shooting star
you’re beautiful the way you are

this one’s for the girls,
who love without holdin’ back,
who dream with everything they have,
all around the world
this one’s for the girls.

I Take My Chances (Mary-Chapin Carpenter)

now I can cry until I laugh and laugh until I cry
so cut the deck right in half, I’ll play from either side

I take my chances, I don’t cling to remorse or regret
I take my chances, I take my chances every chance I get

The Wood Song (Indigo Girls)

the thin horizon of a plan is almost clear
my friends and I have had a tough time…

no way construction of this tricky plan
was built by other than a greater hand
with a love that passes all our understanding
watching closely over the journey

yeah but what it takes to cross the great divide
seems more than all the courage I can muster up inside
although we get to have some answers when we reach the other side
the prize is always worth the rocky ride

Chances (Five for Fighting)

chances are when said and done
who’ll be the lucky ones who make it all the way?….

eight to five, two to one
lay your money on the sun
until you crash what have you done?
is there a better bet than love?
what you are is what you breathe
you gotta cry before you sing

I Am Not My Hair (India Arie)

I am not my hair
I am not this skin
I am a soul that lives within

breast cancer and chemotherapy
took away her crown and glory
she promised God if she was to survive
she would enjoy everyday of her life

Bad Day (Daniel Powter)

’cause you had a bad day, you’re taking one down
you sing a sad song just to turn it around
you say you don’t know, you tell me don’t lie
you work at a smile and you go for a ride

 Little Moments (Rob Thomas)

let it go, let it roll right off your shoulder
don’t you know, the hardest part is over
let it in, let your clarity define you
in the end, we will only just remember how it feels

our lives are made
in these small hours, these little moments,
these twists and turns of fate
time falls away, but these small hours still remain

Here Comes The Sun (The Beatles)

little darling, it’s been a long cold lonely winter.
little darling, it seems like years since it’s been clear.
here comes the sun, here comes the sun, it’s all right….

4 thoughts on “Soundtrack

    • dear beth,

      what an awesome post! music is so evocative, the emotions that get stirred up are so cathartic. our son, with whom we always shared favorite singers, groups, bands with as he was growing up and into the present time, made a playlist of 200 songs for us to listen to while both hugh and i were in treatment. it was the BEST gift, the best therapy, and still makes our hearts swell with love, comfort, and sometimes a much needed crying jag.

      love, xoxo,

      karen, TC


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