Songs for Sound Minds are our picks of the best music that uplifts, inspires and boosts mental health. Songs written as an anthem to overcoming the storms of life. The songs that give hope in those times when we are struggling.
It probably comes as no surprise that John Lennon features on our Songs for Sound Minds playlist.
But it’s not for the song you’d think it would be…
Watching the Wheels by John Lennon
John Lennon – bread baker
John Lennon had been at the top of the charts for over 10 years when he decided to step back from the day job and stop making music altogether.
During much of the 1960s he was a major part of The Beatles, one of the biggest pop acts in history. Then he was a solo artist penning thought-provoking hits like ‘Imagine’ and ‘Happy Christmas (War is Over)’.
At the time, Lennon made it clear that he was very content staying home. Looking after his young son, Sean, baking bread and doing other domestic chores.
His perspective was contrary to what society has long programmed us to believe: that the workplace is the only place we can be productive and find fulfilment.
I wish I’d spent more time at the office (said no one ever)
The pertinent question to ask in life – perhaps the exact one Lennon asked himself – is this: in our twilight years, how many of us will wish that we had spent more time at the office and less with family?
Lennon’s response was to resign from the hit factory and opt for the home life.
In 1975 he became the world’s most famous ‘househusband’ as it used to be called. This may not seem like a revolutionary step nowadays with our emphasis on shared parental leave and the fight against gender stereotypes.
In the 1970s it was however a dramatic statement and drew a lot of criticism from friends and fans.
As the first verse of John Lennon’s song ‘Watching the Wheels’ says:
‘People say I’m crazy doing what I’m doing
Well they give me all kinds of warnings to save me from ruin
When I say that I’m o.k. they look at me kind of strange
Surely you’re not happy now you no longer play the game.’
The achievement ‘merry-go-round’
Social norms tend to encourage us to measure our success and achievements by how far up the corporate ladder we climb.
Often it can seem that our whole identity is defined by the job that we do, the money that we earn and the stuff we accumulate.
This 1980 hit encourages us to turn our backs on the ‘merry-go-round’ and let go of the urge to succeed at any cost.
The lyrics give us permission to sit ‘watching the wheels go round and round.’ Instead of trying to win the rat race, step out of the flow and take time to breathe.
Enjoying the simple things in life
Words like John Lennon’s can inspire us to realise that the simpler things in life can be very satisfying.
Perhaps you have a favourite quote that encourages you when the pace of modern life is getting on top of you.
Take this one from Albert Einstein as an example: “A calm and humble life will bring more happiness than the pursuit of success and the constant restlessness that comes with it.”
Or maybe there is a poem that takes your mind to a quieter, more peaceful place. One example is this verse by W H Davies written over 100 years ago:
‘What is this life if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.
No time to stand beneath the boughs
And stare as long as sheep or cows’.
More to life than stress and stuff
It can seem like we have no option but to seek more responsibility, earn that next promotion and accumulate more ‘stuff’.
This can become a roller coaster of ever increasing stress and ever decreasing satisfaction.
Yet, however fast paced our day and however long our ‘to do list’ we can always make time to take a step back and choose a more relaxing option.