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. For our latest pick we are going a little bit country with ‘I Hope You Dance’ and checking out it’s hopeful advice for our kids.
What advice would you give to your kids in song?
Parenting can, at times, be exasperating. You see your little ones get into scrapes, fall out with friends and make mistakes and you think: things would be so much easier if they only listened to my advice!
On the other hand, as your children grow and develop, score minor successes, start to forge a career and build families of their own your heart swells with pride and you think: at least part of their success is down to my support and encouragement over the years.
But if you were to choose a song to inspire your kids, what would you choose? What words would be your gift to your children as they make their way through life?
From the cradle to the grave
There are a number of songs that celebrate the birth of a new baby. For people of a certain age ‘Isn’t She Lovely?’ by Stevie Wonder will immediately spring to mind. Celebrating the gift of a child and all that entails, offering encouragement to future generations as they move towards parenthood.
Another common theme in music is tracks written by parents for their children. Take ‘Father and Son’ by Cat Stevens (now Yusuf Islam) for example. Similarly many poignant songs have been written by children to their late parents. ‘The Living Years’ by Mike and Mechanics is a painfully sad track about how things might have been if only a father had lived on.
‘Cat’s in the Cradle’ by Harry Chapin is perhaps the most well-known song of advice to a future generation. A cautionary tale that encourages us all to think about the time we do (and do not) spend with our kids as they grown up.
Originally a poem by Chapin’s wife, Sandy Gaston, the lyrics were inspired by the poor relationship between her first husband and his son. It follows a boy growing up and longing for time with his absent working father. Chapin’s classic concludes with the bitter irony of the now retired and lonely father lamenting the unavailability of his son:
‘As I hung up the phone it occurred to me, he’d grown up just like me. My boy was just like me.’
Hope for the future
At The Spark, one of our favourites is ‘I Hope You Dance’, a country crossover hit in the USA for Lee Ann Womack. Written by Mark Sanders and Tia Sillers the track is about a parent giving heartfelt and hard-earned advice to their child. Womack herself has said, “you can’t hear those lyrics and not think about children and hope for the future and things you want for them. And those are the things I want for (my daughters) in life.”
To us, it is a song of hope. Covered by Ronan Keating in 2004 ‘I Hope you Dance’ is about gratitude and enjoying the small things in life. It’s about overcoming adversity. It’s about making the most of life and finding joy.