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Make Your Own Music

Make Your Own MusicI grew up listening to The Captain and Tennille singing about “Muskrat Love” and The Carpenters warbling “Sing of good things, not bad. Sing of happy, not sad.”

I believe those two songs were solely responsible for the rise of heavy metal bands and for Black Sabbath’s song “Electric Funeral” about nuclear annihilation. It’s all about balance.

Music should be an important part of your life, and you should never be ashamed of grabbing the karaoke microphone and warbling a festive tune from 1980. Add the eager passion of a professional soloist despite knowing that when the sun rises you won’t be able to carry a tune in a punch bowl. But for a brief moment, when the evening is full of untainted potential, you’ll become a soulful crooner for all the ages, sharing your song with the universe.

Your challenge is to keep the music playing.

Keep the music playing long after the party is over, the bills are past-due, and a recording contract is still elusive. The late comedian George Carlin said, “It’s called The American Dream because you have to be asleep to believe it.” His acerbic humor nailed it. How can you sing a joyful song when life keeps dumping junk on your head? Maybe you’re unemployed or in a lousy job, or you haven’t had any loving since 2008, or your dog ran away. Look on the bright side – you could write Country Western songs!

Music and mood are closely interrelated — listening to a sad or happy song alters your moods and has the ability to change your perception of the world around you. For example, gothic metal music makes me want to damage something with a chain saw, while a classical aria causes me to (almost) levitate with elation. In a stressful situation, a little dose of “Walking on Sunshine” could be all it takes to relieve the tension.

Here are some exercises to prove that music alters your mood.

Imagine seeing and hearing the following scenarios:

You’re struggling in the steaming jungles of Vietnam as you hear the foreboding song “The End” by The Doors as played in the movie Apocalypse Now. Then you’re drinking alone in a dark bar as a Billie Holiday impersonator croons “GloomySunday.” You claw out of a deep depression only to hear Kansas singing “Dust in the Wind.” By now you should be wallowing on the floor, sobbing in anguish about the wretched world.

Now, pretend you’re twirling on a panoramic Austrian mountain meadow singing “The Sound of Music” with Julie Andrews. You’re even wearing a summer dress with a festive apron. Then transport yourself to a sunny beach listening to the jaunty tune of Bobby McFerrin’s “Don’t Worry, Be Happy.” Finally, turn up the volume on “Chariots of Fire” or “Rocky.” Yo, Adrian! Are you smiling yet?

No matter what festivity or calamity is in your future, you should have a song or two ready to suit the occasion.

If you can’t find the perfect tune, create your own. Add it to your bucket list to make your own music by the end of the year. Don’t worry if you’re unsure about writing a song. Remember the immortal lyrics of that famous song that rose to #4 on the Billboard Charts – “Now he’s tickling her fancy, rubbing her toes. Muzzle to muzzle, now, anything goes as they wriggle, Sue starts to giggle.” That song includes synthesized sound effects simulating muskrat copulation. Yes, you can do better!

Elaine Ambrose

Elaine Ambrose is an award-winning author of ten books and a regular contributor to Huffington Post. Her widely syndicated blog Midlife Cabernet appears on her own site, as well as on Blogher, Jennings Wire, Humor Outcasts, and Project Eve. She is a regular contributor to Huffington Post and Midlife Boulevard. Her new book, Midlife Cabernet, won the 2014 Silver Medal for Humor from the Independent Book Publisher Awards program, and Publishers Weekly claimed the book is “Laugh-out-loud funny!” Foreword Reviews wrote that the book is “an Erma Bombeck-esque argument for joy.” Through her company Mill Park Publishing, Elaine also organizes writing and wellness retreats for women in the Idaho Mountains. Her author web site is

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