FLAGEL: Music lifts my spirits in dreary weather

Published 7:53 am Friday, January 31, 2020

Justin Flagel is the creator of writings, podcasts and more at Red Chuck Productions. He serves in various capacities in the community. He can be reached at contact@redchuckproductions.com for any questions.

Most of us suffer from a mood change in the depths of winter, with the long nights, dreary days and the cold weather pushing us toward despair. Cozy book reading and outdoor activities help me get through the season, but the guaranteed fix for me, as you’d probably guess, is to turn to music to lift my spirits. With that in mind, I recently put together a mix called “Hopes and Dreams,” full of music to inspire and bring a smile. The full playlist, including additional songs and selected lyrics, can be found at redchuckproductions.com/madeyouamix and heard on Spotify and Apple Music.

“Music Is Worth Living For” by Andrew W.K.

I had a passing interest in Andrew W.K. over the years, but I became a genuine fan after catching his late-night performance on “Conan” in 2018 while promoting his new album, “You’re Not Alone.” Eight grizzled rock and rollers filled the stage, four of them playing guitars, screaming and singing about the joy of life and music like a religious chorus. The emotion spilled off the screen so intensely, I immediately purchased a ticket to the band’s upcoming concert in Chicago. I attended on my own and, when mentioning that this was my first Andrew W.K. show, I was greeted to claps on the back by numerous strangers and the words, “Welcome to the congregation.” It was a crazy, sweaty, and energetic evening that left my body beaten and my heart soaring. Whenever I need a spiritual boost, I turn to this track.

“Glory” by Common and

John Legend

As we exit the month when we celebrate the life and work of Martin Luther King, Jr. and enter into Black History Month, this song and the fight for equality continues to be relevant. “Glory” is the premier track from the soundtrack of the film “Selma.” The movie depicts the events surrounding King’s march at the town of the same name. “Glory” reminds us of battles fought, the struggles that still exist, and the hope for victory against them.

“All the Young Dudes” by Mott the Hoople

This is one of my favorite stories of rock and roll. As the legend goes, Mott the Hoople was struggling with commercial success and was on the verge of splitting up when David Bowie, hearing of the turmoil, offered up two compositions. “All the Young Dudes,” the second, was allegedly written specifically to help the band while Bowie sat crossed-legged on the floor of a room in London. The result was a No. 3 single for the band and one of the greatest songs of all time for all of us.

“The Swimming Song” by Loudon Wainwright III

I know here in Michigan that summer seems far off and swimming holes are a bit less than inviting, but these poetic lyrics might just be among the most inspiring of all time. The metaphor serves as an instruction manual for life; you can stay on the shoreline and miss out or you can dive in, take a risk and live it up.

“Land of Hope and Dreams” by Bruce Springsteen

While many musicians have been working as long as “The Boss,” Springsteen continues to make new music that is relevant to the day, avoiding the trap of becoming his own cover band. In 2012, as the country continued to struggle with its divisions, Bruce released a truly American album in “Wrecking Ball”  and nothing captures the hopes and dreams of our ideals more than this track.

To enjoy the full playlist, including additional songs and selected lyrics, head to redchuckproductions.com/madeyouamix and listen on Spotify and Apple Music.