A month before I officially received my undergraduate degree (in media communications), I had two job offers:
- Production Assistant for a public radio station in southern Connecticut
- Sales Rep. for a commercial radio station in southern Connecticut
The second had the potential of pulling in approximately three times what the first one offered, and (secretly) the only thing I really loved about the commercial station was their live, local weeknight love songs program that I fantasized about hosting.
When I confessed this to a mentor at the time, she rolled her eyes. “Amanda, you’re not telling me that your aspirations are actually to be a love songs disc jockey, are you?”
I laughed it off and took the production position at the public station – which, for a variety of reasons was actually the right call – but, I still haven’t landed my own program and I definitely still have a thing for love songs.
Early this fall, as my 24-mile weekday commute began to drag out to nearly 2-hours each way, I started filling the time with my very own Love-Blocks. Stacks of songs I know by heart, that I play/sing/dedicate to me, from me.
Here’s one of my most powerful lineups:
Tom Petty: Don’t Come Around Here No More
This one goes out to Mandy the Manipulator. The part of me that constantly seeks to fix and please. The well-intended, “yes-er.” She’s not bad – she’s just scared shitless of disappointment and confrontation. She takes over when things get awkward – which is just another way to say – when things get real. She shuts down the feels and ramps up the do-s. She’ll convince the rest of me that sleep, and food, and breaks and deep breaths are weak. She’ll reinforce and ensure that the only way to gain affection and attention is to keep proving my worth. She’s helped me earn a lot and lose so much more. She’s protected and perverted me, almost simultaneously. I love her for helping me come this far, but she’s anxious and exhausting and tangled my emotions…so, honey, please admit it’s over.
Sara Bareilles – I Choose You
My name – Amanda – means worthy of love. And this song by Sara reminds me that all of that worth that Mandy is so obsessed with “proving” – is actually my birthright. One benefit to the height of my commutes rarely speeding up past 5-10 MPH, is that I can belt out this whole song with one hand on the steering wheel and the other on my heart. Singing, I choose you – saying, out loud, that I choose me – over and over and over again reminds me that I’m already completely, perfectly and permanently chosen. Accepted. Grounded. And Good.
Peal Jam – Just Breathe
Inhale. Exhale. Come clean. There would need to be so many hands to count all of those I love and all of those who love me. On the rides where I trick myself into feeling the most alone, confused, small and ordinary, I sing and breathe and inevitably end up seeing and being seen by someone else. There’s a smile and a nod and a reminder that WE truly are all in this together. None of us are getting out of here alive – so, let’s enjoy the ride. Appreciate our time. Savor our one breath.
Blackbear – Do Re Mi
To my ego – from my ego. You and your constant need for validation and control. Your score cards and bullshit rules. You trip me up. Make me feel lazy. Mediocre. Silly. Stupid. This one fits as a love song simply because I love the idea of sassing my sick. Telling all those ugly, heavy thoughts, I’m so fucking done with you. (Even if the done only lasts until the end of the song.)
Adele – I can’t Make You Love Me (Bonnie Raitt Cover)
On my show – love songs tend to be sad songs because in my world joy and sadness and acceptance and rejection are all connected. Nothing reminds all of me about all of this quite like this cover. And when I sing it to me what I’m really saying is, “You’re all I’ve got. And the best I’ve got. And really, there’s no try. I can’t make me love me. Instead, I’m just going to accept, that even when I feel like I don’t even like me – at my core – I do. I always do.” I could totally give up this fight, but, I don’t want to.
Aoife O’Donovan – Oh Mama
Sing me a love song. Pour me some bourbon. And lay me down low. When it’s about time to pull in and power down there comes an ease. A peace. Just for a few beats – minutes – moments. With a full heart (even when it’s breaking or bleeding) I let the Mama in me make everything okay. Close my eyes. Put me to sleep – just enough – to give me pause before I open up, get out, and rise again.