Music as caffeine: My top picks

End-of-the-quarter is always a rough time for teachers.  You find yourself  grading vast quantities of student work under the pressure of an unyielding deadline, plowing your way through stacks of essays while your spouse kindly shoulders both the childcare and your frequent complaints about how you really should have chosen a career in which you didn’t have to get so much done, such as a career as a member of the United States Congress.

Even if you’re not a teacher, you’ve surely had those days when you rely on sheer dogged drive and determination to get going and make it through your to-do list.  Coffee and prayer are helpful in times such as those.

Music is good, too.   In fact, I’ve found that certain tunes never fail to get me energized, no matter how exhausted I am.  Here, in no particular order, are my Tired Working Mom Survival Songs.  (I warn you: it’s a really eclectic list.)

1.  Any fast-paced Irish folk song, such as “Hills of Connemara.”  Gaelic Storm does a great rendition of this.

The only downside is that if you listen to it repeatedly in the car, your child will eventually ask, “Mom?  What is this song about?”   Then you have to decide whether you really want to say, “Well, it’s a sympathetic ballad about brewing illegal alcohol and then running like mad to avoid the tax men.”

2.  I’m a child of the ’80s, the era known for having terrible hair and good rock.  And “Take On Me” by A-ha,  or “Just Like Heaven” by The Cure, or “A Little Respect” by Erasure always get me smiling and singing along and wanting to dance like I’m at  my high school prom again.

3.  “Viva la Vida” by Coldplay.  I don’t know what it is about this tune, but it gets me energized every time.

4.  Aretha Franklin and “A Little Respect.”  (Sock it to me, sock it to me, sock it to me …)

5.   For a little calypso flair, there’s “Jump in the Line” by the incomparable Harry Belafonte.  (I told you the list was eclectic.)

6.  Glenn Miller and “In The Mood” makes me smile and want to dance, except that I’m a child of the 80s, and I can’t dance swing.  (My parents can, and it’s always fun to see them cut the rug to this song at weddings.)

7.  Speaking of weddings, Barry White’s “My First, My Last, My Everything” is the song that was playing as Scott and I danced our way into the reception hall.   Maybe it’s the happy memories of this song that inspire me at least as much as the song itself.

8.  Any fast song by ABBA.  “Waterloo” fits the bill perfectly.  (And if the 80s were the era of bad hair, the 70s were clearly the era of bad fashion, as evinced by this video which I just had to share, it is so stunning in its kitschy awesomeness.)

Those are my energy songs.  I’d love to hear yours!  Share away.

8 responses to “Music as caffeine: My top picks

  1. Brewing illegal alcohol and running like mad to avoid the tax men is actually true-to-life for my own family history, but we don’t talk about that particular great uncle.

    Could be worse…

    I have several versions of a song about a maid who was kidnapped by a sea captain to be turned over to the crew to be gang raped after she provided them with dinner entertainment, but she sang them all into a trance and robbed them blind.

    Many murders related to jealous siblings or disapproving parents (always great when dad finds you in bed and stabs your sweetheart in bed next to you).

    I know a wauking song (in Scots Gaelic, from Cape Breton Island) that is representative of a sub-genre of very bawdy wauking songs, as the entire thing is a woman bragging about every place in the house and around the farm where she and her lover have had sex (and it’s at this point when you’re glad for the language barrier).

    You know, and then there’s the “The Long Black Veil”

    Songs glorifying heavy drinking and crazy wakes…

    I’ve been listening to and studying the various strains of Celtic folk music for about the last twenty years. This is what I was listening to as a teenager, along with other questionable things like opera and

  2. Lost my cursor

    Opera and the sacred texts of various Christian and Sufi mystics. My parents would have objected to rap and a lot of rock music. The “cultural” stuff I was learning and studying really flew under the radar. I haven’t killed anyone in a fit of jealousy or been force-deported to Australia or consumated a mystical marriage with the divine yet so…yeah…

    Altan is really solid traditional Irish stuff from Donegal.

    Yo Yo Ma’s Obrigado Brazil album always gets me moving.

    Epic and dynamic tracks from film scores are a personal favorite, especially a good road movie or something with a lot of action.

  3. I wouldn’t have thought of Opera as being “rev you up” music. Then again, I don’t know much about it, so I’m glad to be enlightened! Merci.

    Good point about film scores. They can include some great mood music.

  4. Chris Lowenstein

    I’m right there with you re: grading, teaching, mothering. It. Never. Ends. Ever. Love this playlist and going to add it to my own. Hope to catch up when we both surface at the end of the semester!

  5. Chris, there needs to be a support group: “Moms Who Teach” Actually, it should be “Moms Who Teach English.” All those essays! ….

    I’d love to catch up too. Till then, hang in there!

  6. These are great. I am a big fan of the broadway tunes to get me through crazy deadline days – “One Day More” from Les Mis, “Oh What a Circus” from Evita, “I’ve Got the Sun in the Morning” from Annie Get Your Gun…

  7. Showtunes! Yes! “One Day More” is a great one for getting all inspired to go build a barricade (or at least do the laundry!). Great suggestions.

  8. I think it depends on the opera, and the scene in question. 😉

    Tragic operas, no. Comic operas? Maybe. Crazy dynamic scenes? Why not?