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Scientific Evidence About Music

MUSIC HEALS: Music’s Top 100 Feel Good Songs

Music Heals!  Anyone who has had their heart broken knows this, and now there is scientific evidence to support the theory.  For those of you making a living writing, producing, playing and working in the business of music, keep on keepin’ on, because you are providing some of the best holistic, non-invasive medicine in the world!

The notion that Music Heals dates back to the writings of Plato and Aristotle. More recently, JAMA reported in 1914 that phonographs played in recovery and operating rooms increased positive outcomes for patients, and we now know that musicians played at the bedside of wounded soldiers in both World Wars to help ease physical and emotional trauma.  The idea that Music Heals is nothing new.  What is new is that evidence-based medicine and modern science now support what musicians, patients and star-crossed lovers have known for centuries, that Music Heals.

What is it about music that actually heals?  Music is a form of sensory stimulation that triggers the pleasure system of the brain.  According to brain-imaging studies music is processed throughout both brain hemispheres activating the areas that are responsible for language, listening, motor skills, emotion, memory and creativity. “We believe music can cause neurochemical changes in specific parts of the brain,” says Mark Jude Tramo, neurology professor at Harvard Medical School and director of the Institute for Music & Brain Science in Boston.  “Music is a powerful auditory stimulus.” So powerful in fact that it causes the release of dopamine, which is responsible for motivation and feelings of happiness.  These endorphins also suppress pain.  Current studies similarly link music to the release of immunoglobulins, which help fight disease. Music as a clinical therapy is now used all over the world in many ways:  pain management, mood and mobility improvement for patients with Parkinson’s disease and brain trauma, medication reduction after surgery, anxiety relief, hospital stay reduction for children and adults, nausea reduction after chemotherapy, treatment for depression, enhanced concentration and creativity, and for lowering blood pressure. Music offers a nonthreatening treatment tool that is attractive to doctors and patients alike.  There is essentially no downside that’s any more serious than a misplayed chord.

What songs cause that dopamine release for music makers?  What are the songs that make people in the music business feel good? What songs lift the spirits of those immersed in lyrics, melodies and the business of music day in and day out?  Throughout last year I asked music industry friends and associates to answer these questions. I received almost 1000 responses. From these responses I compiled a list of the . . .

Top 100 “Feel Good Songs” from the Makers of Music:

  1. “We Must Believe In Magic” – Performed by Johnny Cash, Written by Cowboy Jack Clement
  2. “Three Little Birds” – Performed by Bob Marley
  3. “What A Wonderful World” – Performed by Louis Armstrong
  4. “Ode To Joy” – Written by Beethoven
  5. “Day O” – Performed by Harry Belafonte
  6. “Ob-La-De, Ob-La-Da” – Performed by The Beatles
  7. “Fishin’ In The Dark” – Performed by The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band
  8. “These Arms Of Mine” – Performed by Otis Redding
  9. “I Wouldn’t Have Missed It For The World” – Performed by Ronnie Millsap
  10. “I’ll Be There” – Performed by The Four Tops
  11. “Your Are The Sunshine Of My Life” – Performed by Stevie Wonder
  12. “Good Ole Boys” – Performed by Waylon Jennings
  13. “Wild World” – Performed by Cat Stevens
  14. “You Look So Good In Love” – Performed by George Strait
  15. “Tiny Dancer” – Performed by Elton John
  16. “Soulshine” – Performed by The Allman Brothers
  17. “Strawberry Wine” – Performed by Deana Carter
  18. “White Lightening” – Performed by George Jones
  19. “You Are My Sunshine” – Performed by Ray Charles
  20. “Start Me Up” – Performed by The Rolling Stones
  21. “Tangled Up & Blue” – Performed by Bob Dylan
  22. “Junior’s Farm” – Performed by The Wings
  23. “Leavin’ On a Jet Plane” – Performed by John Denver
  24. “Here You Come Again” – Performed by Dolly Parton
  25. “The Most Beautiful Girl” – Performed by Charlie Rich
  26. “I Love A Rainy Night” – Performed by Eddie Rabbit
  27. “King Of The Road” – Performed by Roger Miller
  28. “Rhinestone Cowboy” – Performed by Glen Campbell
  29. “Let It Be” – Performed by The Beatles
  30. “If I Had A Boat” – Performed by Lyle Lovett
  31. “Feel Alright” – Performed by Steve Earle
  32. “Rainbow Connection” – Performed by Willie Nelson
  33. “Crusin” – Performed by Smokey Robinson
  34. “Movin’ On Up” – The Jefferson’s Theme Song, Performed by Ja’net Dubois
  35. “Great Day To Be Alive” – Performed by Travis Tritt
  36. “Imagine” – Performed by John Lennon
  37. “Proud Mary” – Performed by Tina Turner
  38.  “Call Me Al” – Performed by Paul Simon
  39. “Have A Little Faith In Me” – Performed and Written by John Hiatt
  40. “Western Skies” – Performed & Written by Chris LeDoux
  41. “You Shook Me All Night Long” – Performed by AC/DC
  42. “Good Bye Earl” – Performed by The Dixie Chicks
  43. “Here Comes The Sun” – Performed by The Beatles
  44. “C’mon Get Happy” – Performed by The Partridge Family
  45. “Puff The Magic Dragon” – Performed by Peter, Paul & Mary
  46. “I Say A Little Prayer” – Performed by Aretha Franklin
  47. “Jolly Mon” – Performed by Jimmy Buffet
  48. “Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin” – Performed by Michael Jackson
  49. “I Will” – Performed by Allison Krauss
  50. “Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah” – Performed by James Basket/Uncle Remus
  51. “Shower The People You Love” – Performed by James Taylor
  52. “Fly Me To The Moon” – Performed by Frank Sinatra
  53. “Love Theme from St. Elmo’s Fire” – Performed by David Foster
  54. “Beautiful Day” – Performed by U2,
  55. “Cheers Theme Song” – Performed by Gary Portnoy
  56. “Better Together” – Performed by Jack Johnson
  57. “The Gambler” – Performed by Kenny Rogers
  58. “A Change Will Do You Good” – Performed by Sheryl Crow
  59. Amazing Grace – All Versions Performed
  60. “Hammer & A Nail” – Performed by The Indigo Girls
  61. “Love at The Five & Dime” – Performed by Nancy Griffith
  62. “It’s The End Of The World” – Performed by REM
  63.  “This Hard Land” – Performed by Bruce Springsteen
  64. “You’re In My Heart” – Performed by Rod Stewart
  65. “Devil Went Down To Georgia” – Performed by Charlie Daniels
  66. “Change The World” – Performed by Eric Clapton
  67. “Kiss An Angel Good Morning” – Performed by Charlie Pride
  68. “She’s In Love With The Boy” – Performed by Trisha Yearwood
  69. “God Only Knows” – Performed by The Beach Boys
  70. “Sweet Caroline” – Performed by Neil Diamond
  71. “Ocean Front Property” – Performed by George Strait
  72. “The Chair” – Performed by George Strait
  73. “Walk This Way” – Performed by RUN-DMC featuring Aerosmith
  74. “Pretty Woman” – Performed by Roy Orbison
  75. “Orinico Flow” – Performed by Enya
  76. “What The World Needs Now” Performed by Jackie DeShannon
  77. “Feelin’ Groovy Song” – Performed by Simon & Garfunkel
  78. “Fortunate Son” – Performed by CCR
  79.  “Your Love Keeps Liftin Me Higher” Performed by Jackie Wilson
  80. “It’s Your Thing” – Performed by Isley Brothers
  81. “Linus & Lucy” – Performed by Vince Guardaldi Trio
  82. “Groove Is In The Heart” – Performed by Dee-Lite
  83.  “Joy To The World” – Performed by Three Dog Night
  84. “Take On Me” – Performed by Ah-ha
  85. “Kyrie” – Performed by Mr. Mister
  86. “Pancho & Lefty” – Performed by Merle Haggard & Willie Nelson
  87. “Coming Around Again” – Performed by Carly Simon
  88. “Take Me Out To The Ball Game” – Performed by Billy Murray
  89. “Everybody Wants To Rule The World” – Performed by Tears for Fears
  90. “Roll To Me” – Performed by Del Amitri
  91. “Easy Like Sunday Morning” – Performed by Lionel Ritchie
  92. “The Scientist” – Performed by Willie Nelson
  93. “Blitzkrieg Bob” – Performed by The Ramones
  94. “Little Red Corvette” – Performed by Prince
  95. “In Your Eyes” – Performed by Peter Gabriel
  96. “No Easy Way Out” – Performed by Robert Tepper
  97. “Roll On” – Performed by Alabama
  98. “I’m Comin’ Out” – Performed by Diana Ross
  99. “East Bound & Down” – Performed by Jerry Reed
  100. “Freebird” – Performed by Lynard Skynard

The music you are making each day has an impact much greater than a chart position or Sound Scan report.  As music makers you are helping Kenneth, a stroke survivor, learn to speak again, and you are giving Deanna, a fourteen year-old with cancer, a reason to keep fighting.   Great music inspires us, relaxes us, energizes us – in short, great music heals us and keeps us well.  So instead of taking two aspirin, listen to a little “We Must Believe In Magic” before going to bed — because Music Heals.

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