Category: Music (page 1 of 2)

Playlist Therapy: Using Music To Boost Your Mood

Seeing as how my novels revolve around the music industry, it should come as no surprise that music is one of my go-to picker-uppers. I never cease to be amazed at how much power a song can contain.  One simple melody can lift a bad mood or heighten one that is already good.  A great lyric can become a rallying cry when you’re in need of motivation. A familiar tune can spark a million memories, bringing you in touch with parts of yourself you normally close off. There’s no limit to what music can do.

Of course, as someone who loves music, I’m constantly coming up with playlists. Sometimes they revolve around a theme, like songs that mention the word “sunshine”,  and sometimes it’s all about a certain vibe. Regardless of the common thread, I always put a lot of thought into these lists.

Awhile back, I was in a bit of a funk and decided to put together a playlist comprised of songs that made me feel like I could take on the world. I burned a CD (yes, I still play CDs!) and put it on while I was cleaning the house, driving in my car, or preparing to get down to some writing. The results were fantastic, and I began creating new lists of songs for different mindsets I wanted to achieve.

In the course of putting together these lists, I would find myself searching for songs that other people associate with whatever theme I was working with. Time and again, I was let down by the lack of rock and roll on these lists. Nothing against the current pop favorites, but sometimes you need something with a little more bite.

Today, I would like to share 10 songs that are instant mood-boosters for me. These are the songs that I know put a smile on my face, no matter what.

I Love Myself Today-Bif Naked

I’m not sure how I came across this song but I’m so glad I did! Although it’s a break-up song, I feel like it can apply to breaking free from any situation that isn’t working out for you. The chorus is insanely catchy and singing along definitely brings a sense of empowerment. Who doesn’t need to affirm their love for themselves from time to time?



I Wanna Be Somebody-W.A.S.P.

This song…you guys, I don’t know if I can accurately express how much I love this one. In fact, it’s one of those songs that I’ve played so much that my husband and our daughter both roll their eyes whenever they hear it starting. I play it when I’m feeling a bit down and need a pick-me-up, I play it when I’m frustrated that things aren’t progressing in the manner I’d envisioned, I play it when I need an extra boost of confidence, I play it when I’m already feeling confident. Not only is the driving beat motivating in and of itself, but the lyrics definitely give a dose of motivation as well! Who says metal can’t be positive?



Stick To Your Guns-Motley Crue

This is one of those tunes that gets overlooked way too often! Honestly, I could have put just about any Crue song in here. Their music sparks something in me that nothing else can replicate, and they generally dominate my feel-good lists. This one,  however, is something special. When the going get’s rough, the reminder that “what’s right for you ain’t right for everyone” can be just the thing to put things into perspective.


Let There Be Rock-AC/DC

Is it just me, or is any AC/DC song generally good for getting you pumped up? They tend to show up on a lot of my playlists, from work-out songs to preparing for a night out, their upbeat style is always a good choice! This one is a particularly good mood-booster for me. You just can’t go wrong with a light-hearted celebration of the simple joy of rock and roll!



We’re Not Gonna Take It-Twisted Sister

There’s always something in life that you’re not gonna take anymore, and belting it out definitely gives you a feeling of control over those situations!



Do You Love Me-The Contours

This list isn’t all hard-rock! And, it’s not all about the lyrics themselves, but the vibe. I can’t imagine how a person could not want to dance around to this song. This one is definitely an instant mood-booster for me!


Twist and Shout-The Beatles

I could have chosen at least 12 other Beatles songs to go in this spot, but this one always puts a smile on my face. Like the song above, I find it hard to sit still and can’t help but to sing along!



Bad Reputation-Joan Jett

Who better to make you feel like an unstoppable force than Joan Jett? She is the epitome of female power, in my book, and this song captures that perfectly. We all need to reaffirm our bad-assery from time to time!



Stand Tall-Killer Dwarfs

This song is another one that should get way more love. Have you figured out that I have a soft-spot for songs about staying true to yourself and not letting anyone or anything get in your way? It’s kind of my thing. This song is another great example of that inner drive that we all strive to maintain.



Push Comes To Shove-Jackyl

Sometimes you need a cathartic outlet for pent-up frustration to turn your mood around, and this song always seems to do that for me! Plus, that guitar riff just does something that makes me smile!



Do you know how hard it was to narrow this down to 10 songs? I easily could have done another 140, easy! In fact this may be something I do from time to time on this blog from now on!

What are some of your go-to pick-me-up tracks? Let me know in the comments below!



Embracing Your Song: A Story Of Personal Growth

I have always been the kind of person that is easily embarrassed. I prefer to keep things to myself and have never been one to show off.

It seems weird to say that. After all, I regularly spill my guts out for strangers to read on the internet and have released 3 smutty romance novels to date. I’ve put a few videos on YouTube, and used to use Periscope pretty regularly (which is something I’ve recently gone back to). I get drunk and sing karaoke whenever I get the chance and I used to be in bands.

By all accounts, people could be forgiven for thinking I’m an outgoing person. However, the fact remains. I’m not a very open person in the real world. I tend to shy away from sharing my talents with others.

With this in mind, I would like to tell you about a very recent breakthrough in my personal life.

For years, I have refused to play guitar in front of anybody.

There was this very real fear that I wasn’t good enough. I know a lot of guitar players who are much better than me, and I just knew I was opening myself up to comparison and criticism. Knowing that I’m a sensitive person by nature, I didn’t want to put myself in a position to have my passion ridiculed to the point where I could no longer enjoy it.


fear quote, embrace your song, be you, small step towards happiness, playing in front of others, guitar


Now, the logical solution to that problem would have been to practice more and get better. Yet, fear once again dampened that impulse. I didn’t want people to hear me struggling to learn something new. I figured it would be offensive to force the soundwaves on others and I figured no one wanted to hear the same few songs over and over, day in and day out.

To combat this, I resolved to practice only when I was home alone. Occasionally after a few drinks I’d play in front of my best friend or my husband, but I mostly kept that to myself. I’m pretty sure people began to think I just kept my guitars around for decoration.

I always had these simple goals in my head. I dreamt of playing guitar and leading sing alongs around a campfire or in my backyard with all my friends and family. I dreamt of entering open mic nights and playing in little cafes. I dreamt of playing in my living room without fear.

Every now and then I’d go through spurts where I’d play more often and learn some new songs. I’d build up a little confidence and pack my guitar for family camping trips. This time, I’d play. Inevitably the guitar would stay in the car and I’d be hit with an intense wave of disappointment. I could never bring myself to shake off the fear that held me back.

After a while, I gained a little bit more confidence and decided to put a few videos up on Youtube. Let me tell ya, that was a hard thing to do! I was nervous about sharing that part of myself, especially knowing that I’m not exactly a virtuoso. Still, it was invigorating to put myself out there. Sure, they never got any shares or anything, but I didn’t get horrible comments telling me how bad they were either. That’s a win in my book.


embrace your song, small step towards happiness, fear, ralph waldo emerson, quote, quote about fear, playing in front of people, guitar


However, even with the little bit of confidence that such a leap brought, I couldn’t bring myself to play in front of people in real life.

A few weeks ago, my husband and I went to visit his parents. A couple friends of ours were there and they got out a guitar. I watched with envy as they played for one another and discussed techniques and influences. Both of them are far more talented than I, and I longed to be included.

After a while, one of them handed me the guitar. With shaking hands, I accepted the instrument and began playing a few songs I knew I couldn’t possibly mess up. That’s when my mother in law said something that shook me to my soul.

“You know, I’ve only ever heard you play 2 or 3 times in the 10 years I’ve known you.”

I looked at her like she’d grown three heads. I’d lived with her for a significant amount of time, surely she’d heard me more than that. She disagreed and pointed out that she’d seen me play more in my videos than she ever had in person.

Of course, I found myself slightly embarrassed at the comment and it got me thinking. Why had I hidden it away for so long? All these years  I had waiting for an appropriate time, when I could have created those situations for myself. I had let fear win and rob me of great memories.

A few weeks later, I found myself sitting on the dock at my in-law’s pond. A guitar was placed in my hands and I fulfilled a small dream of mine as I sat there and played through some of my favorite songs. My mother in law walked by and gave me this proud-mother smile, and I breathed a sigh of relief.


brandyn blaze, embrace your song, playing guitar on the dock, small steps towards happiness, journey, growth

I could spend my whole life playing by the water and watching my daughter swim.



It’s a small step for sure, but it’s a step that will lead me further in my personal journey.

I’ve spent a lot of time on this blog blathering on about following your heart and being your true self, and yet I was still denying a large part of my soul. While I have always believed that there’s no such thing as bad art, somehow deep down I thought that didn’t apply to me.

Clearly, I have more work to do in order to let go of all of the insecurities that have held me back. Fear does nothing but steal our joy and hold us back from truly living. In order to live authentically, we have to be willing to open up and be vulnerable. We have to do things that scare us a little bit and learn to quiet that voice that tells us we’re not good enough, that we’re not ready, that things could go wrong. We have to run headlong towards our goals and embrace where we are at every stage of our development with pride.

So embrace your song, take a small step towards happiness, and stop hiding away!

With that said, I have recorded a new video and put it up on Youtube to share with you all and to mark this moment in my journey. I hope you enjoy it as much as I enjoyed making it!



Linked up at: Thinking Out Loud, No Rules Weekend Blog Hop 

What Fuels Your Soul?

With me rockin’ this work at home gig, and my husband working for four 10 hour days, Thursday is my family’s Friday. It is also payday, so I spend the morning ordering our groceries and taking care of bills, then I prep and freeze as many  meals as possible for the week ahead. After that, I catch up my housework and try to squeeze in some writing. By the time my husband gets home I’m  more than ready to start our weekend.

We usher in the break with a few adult beverages and hours of good tunes. We sing and goof around, and just relax. Until our daughter’s bedtime rolls around, she rocks out with us. It’s my favorite part of the week and makes me think of my own childhood.

Music has always been a big part of my life. My passion for music began at home. My parents always had the radio on, and my dad is a musician. My mother was passionate about it as well, and we spent many, many nights dancing together in the living room. Those memories are priceless and I love creating more of the same with my child.

As I was sorting through some old posts from my now-defunct mommy blog, I ran across a post that perfectly summed up how I feel about the role of music in my life.  I smiled as I read about the way my daughter reacted to music at such a young age and I couldn’t resist sharing it here today.

passion for music, set your soul on fire, my daughter and I

*Originally published on December 19, 2013 at Life, Motherhood, And The Pursuit Of Happiness*

My daughter’s favorite song is “Hold On Loosely” by .38 Special. Every morning she picks up her daddy’s cell phone and hands it too him, watching expectantly as he puts on her song. She immediately snatches it from his hands and begins dancing. Watching her react to the music fascinates me and always puts a smile on my face.

Even in the womb she reacted strongly to music. At 7 months pregnant I went to Beatlefest in Chicago (which I guess is now called The Fest For Beatles Fans, but I refuse to make the switch), like I have every year with my mother, my aunt, and my best friend. Every night that child would kick my insides until I was sure she’d come bursting through my belly.

She did the same thing when I was 8 months pregnant and went to see Kiss and Motley Crue. I must note that she kicked more to Kiss than she did to the Crue, which disheartened me a bit and delighted her uncle.

She was born to a Beatles playlist and the instant she entered the world she was greeted to her father and I singing “All You Need Is Love”. Since then we’ve exposed her to a variety of music and there isn’t much she doesn’t like, although she is definitely starting to show some preferences.

What amazes me the most, however, is that it can just be the sound of one of us drumming on the table and she will stop whatever she’s doing and dance. It’s like some primal instinct that she just can’t control, something inside her just tells her to move. I know that feeling well. That divine moment when the music enters your being, touches you to the core, and everything else just falls away. All your worries, all your inhibitions, gone in an instant.

I live for that feeling. The rush that I get from certain songs and certain artists is beyond measure.It’s helped me through the worst of times and it’s enhanced the best of times. If I am to be entirely honest, it’s the only thing that makes me feel truly alive.  It’s been that way for as long as I can remember, and although it has caused me great joy, it has also brought a degree of pain. I found it hard to relate to other people from a very young age, which pushed me further into my obsession with music, which made it even harder to relate to others. Music was my salvation. Songs can’t judge you, they aren’t going to suddenly change, they can’t leave you.

Over time, music has become as essential to my well-being as air or food or water. Singing has become like a reflex to me, a lot of time I’m not even aware that I’m doing it. I’m sure it gets annoying for the people who have to be around me on a consistent basis, and I’m grateful for the people who choose to put up with it anyway. I’m even more grateful to the few people who really get how important it is to me.

Denied the release that immersing myself in music brings me, I turn into a whiny, nagging ball of stress. Almost-Husband has likened the phenomenon to a wild animal kept in captivity that needs to be let out to run. I think he nailed it.

I’m sure everybody has something that affects them so profoundly. I wonder what it will be for my daughter. While I hope that my daughter shares my passion for music at least to some degree, I also will never push her to it or try to divert her from whatever her passion may be. My only wish is that she finds fulfillment and happiness in life, and that she can put up with her crazy mother with an understanding smile.

Whatever it is you love, embrace it. Enjoy it. And don’t ever let anyone take it away.

I’m Rod Stewart Now: The Story Of A Girl And Her Music

As you probably know by now, I have an insatiable love of music. Much like my compulsion to write, this obsession also began in early childhood. In fact, my dad once told me that I came out of the womb dancing and singing, and I’m pretty sure my mother would agree.

Somewhere in the family archives, there is a VHS tape containing footage of myself as a toddler, miming along to Rod Stewart music videos shot for shot. Before I’d begin this routine, toddler me would announce, “I’m Rod Stewart now,” which my family still lovingly mentions. Around this age, I even demanded to have my hair cut like Rod’s.

rod stewart, passion for music

Of course my baby-fine hair didn’t stand up on it’s own, but it was cute none the less.

In fact, if you’d asked me at that time, I would have told you my best friends were Rod Stewart and Jeff Beck. Around that time, my aunt had a personalized book made for me about my day at the circus with them. What can I say? I was an awesome kid!

For the rest of my youth, it was all music all the time. I was the first grader sneaking issues of Metal Edge magazine into school, scouring the pages for mentions of Motley Crue. In second grade, I would sneak in a copy of Cinderella’s “Night Songs” on cassette. The lettering was artfully scraped off, save for the band’s name. I’d pop it in and rock out while we read books on tape with our little headsets. My Barbies were always in a band. A lot of the time I’d just lie on my bed, listening to music and dreaming of the day I’d make it big. I made my friends pretend to be in bands with me. Eventually, I begged them to learn instruments so we could do it for real.

All through middle school and high school, I’d spend my days sketching out band logos and brainstorming album titles. I’d scratch out lyrics and hum my tunes into an old tape recorder. I’d still spend all my free time just listening intently to my music. I spent hours memorizing the liner notes to my favorite albums and devouring any rock-related biography I could lay my hands on. As far as I was concerned, I was studying for my future.

Around the age of 12, I obtained my first guitar and I just knew I’d be the best some day. Not one to put in too much effort, I flirted with it off and on, progressing a little each time I’d try, but losing interest very quickly. Still, I held onto the dream of one day becoming a rocks star, joining bands here and there and constantly writing music.

Now, I’m just a mom with an almost spiritual connection to The Beatles, an addiction to karaoke, and at least three albums worth of songs that remain unheard by anyone besides my husband and my mother. One day that will change, but for now I’m pretty happy having a small handful of dedicated fans–even if they are people who are required to love everything I do.

A few months ago I made a decision to play my guitar more often. Of course, my dedication to it has waxed and waned like it always has. Recently, I’ve been at it again. As part of my quest for more “me” time, I’ve been making music for at least a half-hour everyday. The Princess is coming to love this part of the routine. She often takes up small instruments or dances and sings as I play. I love watching her interest in music flourish and I love showing her that mommy has many different sides.

A couple years ago, I decided to film myself playing one of my favorite songs. Originally, it was just for me. To my surprise,  I was fairly happy with the outcome and decided to share it online, even if it’s not the most amazing rendition of this tune ever recorded. After all, there’s no such thing as bad art.

I hope that this clip helps to encourage others to take pride in whatever it is that they do, at whatever level of ability they may have right now. Pursue your passions relentlessly and without fear. Be you and you can’t go wrong!

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