Picture this: It’s dusk at the Nikon at Jones Beach Theatre.
A gentle breeze raises the hairs on your arms every time it blows. The sky has been streaked by a brush full of blush and a bundle of lavender. Pelicans float in and out of a large stage that sits directly on the water; they arrive with fish for dinner, then head back out to the open water for fish desserts. Although they seem unaffected by a sudden crash of drums and a pull of electric guitar, you are not. Inextinguishable excitement has been welling in your tummy, and it gradually spills out of your lips in the form of lyrics as the first song begins. For the next hour and a half, the audience will sway in a sloppy, half-synchronized motion to songs that pour out of headphones on every long car ride, and out of speakers at every party. There’s a shared intimacy in the air; each word is being sung to you and only you, just as each word is being sung to the older woman three rows ahead, and only the older woman three rows ahead.
This is the music that feels like watching a January snowfall from your window. It makes you laugh because it sounds so much better than your drunk uncle at karaoke night. These songs are filled with as much depth as you. They sound like the waves of the beach day that showed you what a sunset is supposed to look like. They’re what you remember listening to on that early-morning plane ride. You cried to them on one of the longest days of your life. They feel like your first kiss. You and your friends sang them at the top of your lungs on that summer night. They sound like your dad’s wise lecture before you leave for a night out. They’re the chords that get you through every run. They taste like the pretzels you ate at a middle school dance. They make you feel like you’re on top of the world, and understand you when you feel you’re the only one in it. They make certain that you never stop believing in miracles, and that you never forget your hometown. They’re what you insist you’ll dance to at your wedding. They make you miss your mom. They’re your good and bad; your giggles and tears; your kisses and punches. They’re your life, and they’re mine.
If you can’t tell by now, I went to a concert the other night. My closest friends and I saw Brad Paisley (aka Wow Amazing, aka He’s So Beautiful, AKA I Love You) because we genuinely live for country music. It is life. It is everything. If you disagree we will smile empathetically, say we accept your opinion, then wrap you in an American flag and watch as you are taken away in the claws of a bald eagle.
As we danced to and sang along with songs that have been with me through thick and thin, I began thinking about how much music has influenced me throughout my eating disorder. It’s crazy to see how undeniably connected my music has been with each phase of anorexia. At my lowest points, I listened to music that I didn’t even like. I have deleted so many songs in recent months because I don’t even know what I was thinking when I downloaded them. I listened to other people’s music suggestions instead of the music I love, because I had lost touch with everything I value. Since beginning recovery, I’ve come to acknowledge and embrace music that I have adored for as long as I can remember. I’ve rekindled my zealousness for joyful, passionate lyrics that promote happiness. So, below I’ve compiled some songs that have helped me throughout recovery, and inspire me to keep on keeping on. They’re playful, important, strong, and what that this world needs more of.