50 Songs of Self by Jana Triska
Songs of Me
I must admit, that when I was approached to put together a music mix entitled "Selfie" I was a bit put off by the word and everything it evokes in today's Selfie culture. I began to think more about what the notion of "Self" means and how narrow our perception of "self" can be. My exploration of the word and the idea was heavily influenced by my daily yoga practice and sitting meditation. Each morning I take my self to my mat and practice the "same" sequence of postures. While the poses never change, my body, spirit and mind are distinctly different, before and after, every practice and every meditation.
My thoughts and song choices about self or Selfie came from the maxim that the only constant is change. Our ideas and definitions of self are also mutable and ever changing. This filled me with tremendous hope - we are what we perceive. We can expand our, at times, myopic view of ourselves and become our greatest potential.
Believing is seeing,
My Selfie Playlist
1) Moon in the Water by Underworld
The past has already past, the future is not yet here, things are constantly changing. We too can change. We have that potential. Think how much you have changed already in your lifetime. We perceive ourselves as limited and stuck in a fixed state but there is no fixed existence. We are like the reflection of the moon in the water, ever changing and different.
2) Moan by Trentemoeller
This song reminds me of those constant and sometimes haunting thoughts we all experience of attachment and not being able to think of anything or anyone else and how at times we want to stay stuck in those thoughts because theysomehow make us feel connected to what or who we are attached to. What happens to the self when we are in this cycle? Are we more connected or more separate from ourselves and from the object of our attachment or obsessive thoughts?
3) Separator by Radiohead
We are all interconnected. There is no “I” without the you. There is no separation. There is no separation. Connection is where the love is, always.
4) You by Gold Panda
There is no I without you. We are a reflection of one another.
5) Let it Happen by Tame Impala
If we let go of ourselves and our expectations and just let things happen, who knows what can happen and who we can become.
6) I Exhale by Underworld
What are we if not our breath? What could be closer to our self than the grounding, ever reliable rise and fall of each inhale and exhale. This song feels like a big exhale, a big release and letting go. Inhale, exhale and let go.
7) Hang on to Yourself by David Bowie
What do you hang on to? What part of your self is the most precious? What image of yourself is worth protecting? Is it real or outdated? Some say the more we hang on the more it all slips through our fingers.
8) Heartbeats by The Knife
Along with our breath what can be more us or true to ourselves than the beat of our heart?
9) I by Kendrick Lamar
I love this truly free expression of all things I. While we all lack confidence, I love myself!
10) You by Marvin Gaye
When you look in the mirror who do you see staring back atyou? It is a great question.
11) Inside Out by Spoon
Time is going inside and out. The expansiveness of time andour narrow perception of it is a great reminder of how we apply the same narrow perceptions to our own sense of self. There are no boundaries of time. They are man made constructions. Just as our sense of ourselves can be viewed with the same limited or limitless point of view.
12) When I'm Small by Phantogram
I think a lot of the time we connect and nurture the little self, the painful part of our being or self rather than our boundless potential.
13) Dance Yourself Clean by LCD Soundsystem
This song reminds me of something that I heard Alan Watt said about dancing. He said something to the extent that when we dance we have no goal in mind, we just move and we lose all perception of ourselves, we don’t plan on dancing in a certain way or plan on how we are going to do it, we just move. Dancing is in sharp contrast to how we live most of our lives in which each move is so scrutinized and planned. We take ourselves so seriously that I think we often get in the way of our unique dance of life. Dance is such an organic true expression of self, it may not be on beat, or graceful or pretty at times, but it’s true.
14) Walk on the Wild Side by Lou Reed
I love the reinvention in this song, shaved her legs and then he was a she. I believe that if we all pluck up a little courage and walk on the wild side we can become whoever we wantto be. This song represents the fearlessness it takes to be or become whoever we want. It reminds me that the self is notfixed, it is a product of our imagination and living up to our true potential.
15) Black Man's Tears by Alpha Blondy
I’ve always had a hard time with the repeated lyric of, "it’s alright, the lord made me black." It’s as if the singer has found peace and now forgives God for making him black and all difficulties he’s had to endure as a result of his skin color. How the outside has influenced the inside and the struggle to live with it. It’s a good reminder of identity, self and privilege that sadly often comes simply with the color of our skin. As Alpha Blondy sings, "such a vicious trial and I really don’t know why." I sadly don't know either.
16) I'll be Your Miror by The Velvet Underground
This song reminds me that projection is perception and perception is projection and often how skewed our image of ourselves is. We need our friends and the people in our lives to realize the beauty we are.
17) No Me Comprendes by Cafe Tacuba
“You don’t understand me. You tell me that I’m crazy because I laugh when I see things that should make me cry.” Our “normal” reactions and expressions of self often do not seem normal to those around us. We get misunderstood so often.
18) Ghosts by Ibeyi
Our sense of self is as solid as a ghost. Let’s look to love for guidance. “We ain’t nothing without love.”
19) I Believe by Desmond Dekker
“I believe it all depends on what you believe.” And, it all depends on what we believe about ourselves. We have infinite possibilities.
20) Don't Look Back by Peter Tosh
Walk forward, stay present and don’t look back. The past is behind you all we have is the present in which anything is possible.
21) Why Can't We Live Together by Timmy Thomas
If we are all the same, just people with the same struggles, where does the concept of “us” and “them” come from? Why can’t we live together?
22) I'm New Here by Gil Scott-Heron
I like the idea of always being new to a place, a situation, a new self. Not being locked into a fixed idea of self. I love the line about the size of Texas. If everything is new, there is no fixed existence and everything is relative. The option to re-set our idea of ourselves is always available and we too can be new here, if we want to be.
23) Somebody Was Watching by Pops Staples
I sometimes feel this way when looking back at all the past disappointments only to realize that, “now my bad times are better than my good times used to be,” it always shatters our fixed ideas of how things are and how we think things should be.
24) Una Serata Come Tante by Toto Cutugno
A night like every other… or is it? The only constant is change. We too are constantly changing.
25) I Get Lifted by George McCrae
Let’s see each other for who we really are and lift each other up.
26) L.A. Woman by The Doors
Who is she? Does she exist? Is she just a state of mind? This song reminds me of all that we project on a person because of the place they are from or a place that we project on someone. I think we should try harder to get to know who people are and not just assume who they are because of merely the place they are from.
27) I'm So Free by Lou Reed
Freedom can be a choice. We are all free if we chose.
28) Edie's Dream by Suuns
I have a dream, do you know what I mean? Visions in dreams are so can become realities same as visions of self.
29) Never Never by Little Dragon
This song makes me think of the danger we get into when we compare ourselves to others. We are all individual, we can’t have what others have, nor should we want to… but so often we do. It also reminds me the quote by Oscar Wilde, “Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.”
30) Instinct by RITUAL
Is acting on our instincts an expression of our true self? An expression of our non - thinking brain?
31) Royals by Lorde
We’ll never be royals or will we? I love this song and how we use things to identify who we are like our postal codes or cars we drive. We can be what we imagine or what we choose to define ourselves with.
32) Tthhee Ppaarrttyy by Justice
I think the “rap” in this song is a perfect representation of the word, “Selfie". The word that makes us buy into all the “cool” things to do and say in order to post the right type of photos to the social media platform of your choice. Regardless, this song makes me want to just dance and laugh it all, which feeds my true self, maybe that’s what Selfies are supposed to do?
33) What a Difference a Day Made by Dinah Washington
Only 24 little hours yet things can be so different. When we think that we are stuck it’s good to remember that the clouds can clear and rain can go away and all will be or at least appear to be different, and so will we. Everything is constantly changing.
34) Wood by Rostam
This song feels like a celebration of self, of self love and happiness. Maybe just my love of the table, this song makes me want to dance!
35) Dreaming by Jr Thomas & The Volcanos
Some believe that there is no separation between dream life and waking life. As fantastic as our dreams can be so too is or can be our waking life. Therefore, if our dreams are our reality and whatever we dream is real and becomes our reality how does this effect our perception of self?
36) The Gardener by Julie Ann
We are in charge of this garden of life, what are we going to plant?
37) The Toughest by Peter Tosh
I love the bravado and swagger in this song. We can do anything if we believe we are toughest, so the question is, do we need to be the toughest or just believe we are and approach the world with that attitude? Anything you can do I can do better! You better believe it.
38) Cutting Razor by Junior Byles
We are however big or small as we imagine ourselves to be.
39) Save Me by Aretha Franklin
Can anyone really save us or can we only save ourselves and how do we go about it?
40) If 6 Was 9 by The Jimi Hendrix Experience
I chose this song because sometimes 6’s are 9’s and 9’s are 6’s. Perception is funny thing and when I think of self it’s all about perception. Often we think we are only 6’s when we are truly 9’s or rather a perfect 10!
41) Move Over by Janis Joplin
When I think about musical expression and expressing the “I” with such abandon and lack of self, I think of Janis’s voice, so raw, so pure, so in life.
42) Truth by Alex Ebert
What is truth, what is the true self? We have so many selves that we project out into the world, which one of them is the true us?
43) I Can See Clearly Now by Johnny Nash
Our negative thoughts are just clouds beyond which there is blue sky. Let’s try and see clearly, not only ourselves but everyone around us. Look all around there’s nothing but blue sky.
44) Run to Me by Bee Gees
“If ever you have rain in your heart,” I think we’ve all felt that. What a beautiful love song. We need each other to run to.
45) Don't Think Twice, It's All Right by Bob Dylan
I like this simple message, don’t think twice, believe and go forward.
46) You and Me by Penny & The Quarters
I love this little love song. You and me can be everything, together we are much more important than just me.
47) While I Shovel The Snow by The Walkmen
I love the reflection about life in this song, I guess shoveling snow can make you do that. I think we can all relate that we spend half of our life waiting and half of our life waking up. If only we could try to be more present.
48) Here Comes the Sun by Nina Simone
I’m usually not a fan of covers but this version by Nina Simone, who is arguably my favorite musical artist, made me connect with this Beatles classic for the first time. It is so hopeful. Little darling everything is all right.
49) Sound & Color by Alabama Shakes
I love the depth of this song, the dreamlike harmonies and echoes. We are all swirls of sound of color.
50) Many Rivers to Cross by Jimmy Cliff
Aside from Billie Holiday’s “Strange Fruit,” this is one of the hardest songs for me to listen to. It gives me chills and puts tears in my eyes every time I hear the opening refrain. It is also one of my favorite songs. It is about the power (and will) to survive to keep going, of living your truth and keep going forward. And sometimes the loneliness doesn’t leave you alone and you just have cry, but you go on.
Photography by LM Chabot & Holly Andres & Richard Renaldi & Guler Ates & Nairy Baghramian & Niloufar Banisadr & Yael Shachar & RECEP AKAR & Katie Vajda & Machiko Edmondson