• Shelby Price, MT-BC

Lyric Analysis: Heart of Life

Lyric analysis is a common and effective intervention used in music therapy. It‘s simply taking a song apart and figuring out how to fit the pieces back together in your own life. It is especially used in the mental health atmosphere since it usually addresses emotions and thought processes. Our initial reaction to discussing our issues usually is very guarded. We choose to deal silently with what we are going through. But music gives life and a voice to what your heart is saying.

Time and time again I’ve seen people enter into a music therapy session reserved. They have already decided to keep their thoughts to themselves. And then the music starts and a piece of paper with the lyrics of their lives lay in front of them and the walls come down. Music speaks to our souls in ways we don’t understand and are unprepared for. But if we allow it, the process of healing can be as beautiful as your favorite song.

So, I want to give you a simple example of a lyric analysis using John Mayer’s “The Heart of Life”.

The verse paints a picture many of us are all too aware of. Crying and tuning out the world. But the last line croons:

”So turn off your ears and listen” Reflect on what that is saying.

He continues to the chorus with a descriptive opening line:

”Pain throws your heart to the ground” Think about the reality of the phrase, and how in times of heartbreak our emotions can create a real, physical pain.

“Bad news never had good timing” Have you ever found yourself feeling good about where you are and how things are going and then the phone rings with bad news. Or, on the other hand, you’re entire

week has felt like endless bad news and that phone call just topped the

cake and left you feeling like your stuck at the bottom of a barrel. You

are not alone.

Which is just what the next line sings:

”But then the circle of your friends will defend the silver lining” Who is your support? Who are those people in your life that will remind you of that tomorrow will be kinder? That this temporary pain won’t last forever.

And he simply and beautifully ends with:

”No, it won’t all go the way it should, But I know the heart of life is good.” An uplifting resolve to a song that relates each of us to the heartaches of life. If we can repeat the phrase “the heart of life is good” even in our worst of days, maybe the hope of tomorrow will get us through the endlessness of today.

So the next time your favorite song comes on, think about how it speaks to your heart. Think about the impact of the lyrics. Those lyrics are a powerful tool accessible not just to music therapist, but to everyone who listens.

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