The Power of a Song

A few years ago, I lost my s#*t. I woke up one day, and felt so not-Amy that I went to my doctor immediately. Over the next few weeks and months, I struggled to get things back to normal – whatever that is. It was the start of my thinking about moving back to Omaha. It was a time of questioning my life choices. It was my mid-life crisis.

The details are for another time, but in working through the worst of it, I made a discovery. “Peace of Mind,” by Boston. I know it’s an old song, but I had never really heard it. And in those days of emotional unrest, I would play it over and over again, wishing its words into my existence. If you asked me today, how I made it through that period of my life, I’d answer that song, good friends, and pharmaceuticals (legally prescribed).

It’s not the first time a song has moved me forward in life. Long before Allie McBeal introduced the idea of a life theme song, I had one.

My senior year of high school, I auditioned for the Omaha Youth Symphony. I won the first chair position. I was shocked, because I hadn’t even made the Symphony the year before. I went from no chair to first in one year. Of course, I had been practicing like crazy, and I had a great teacher, but I was still surprised.

Almost as soon as the rehearsals started I was challenged by the second and third chair players. A challenge is where the players in question have a ‘play-off.’ It meant I could go from first chair to third chair. The conductor would pick some music for us to play, and he would decide (again) who would be first, second, and third based on this play-off.

The second player had been in the Symphony for two or three years prior, and was the ‘heir apparent’ to the first chair when the other players graduated. The third was a newcomer to the youth orchestras, and she was an excellent player. So I was definitely nervous.

The day of the challenge, I went to school as usual. I left a bit early and went to my Oldsmobile Omega. I was the only one in the parking lot, and after starting the car, I turned on the radio.

“I’m alright, nobody worry ‘bout me.”

The Kenny Loggins song blasted into my brain, and I knew I would win the challenge. From that moment on, that song was my theme. If I had something difficult to face, I would play it, sing it, dance to it – whatever it took to get my mojo in the right place.

Other songs have serendipitously roamed throughout my entire life, and they stick with me more than others. “Once in Love with Amy,” sung by Frank Sinatra, was the song that my parents played to me as a child. In high school, “Aimie,” by Pure Prairie League (the only country song I’ll admit to listening to regularly) was sung to me by a bunch of classmates. It was spontaneous and affirming (and a touch embarrassing). In law school, “I Fought the Law,” was a fun anthem, but after law school, it was (and is) perfectly on-the-nose. “I Am Woman” is the song I most want to invent a dance routine for.

These songs are my playlist as I go on daily walks around my Omaha neighborhood. A lot of times, I don’t even know how they’re going to inspire me once I finally drag myself out the door (I hate exercise). But I never get tired of hearing them, and more importantly, being uplifted and inspired by them. And it all started in Omaha.


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