When people somehow discover my early beginnings were less than optimal, they often marvel at what I’ve been able to accomplish over the course of my life. I don’t. I consider myself extremely lucky (I can’t tell you how many times I narrowly missed dying – when you’re holding a rifle that you’ve just discharged near a playground, and 6 New Haven cops are advancing on you with their guns drawn, and you’re not shot dead 12 times over, luck is clearly playing a part). I also know that scores of people have been uncommonly supportive of me – they have answered The Big Brain Question in the affirmative over and over and over.
My study of brain science over the last 13 years has repeatedly convinced me that The Big Brain Question is something our neurophysiology begins to put together non-verbally before we are ever born. It forms the question in response to the way our brain and body shifts hyper-arousal states to tranquility and calm through processes that diminish and discharge stress hormones. After birth, in the best of all possible worlds, we have parents who learn to help us do that so our little body doesn’t have to constantly go it alone. At some point, other family members and people in our extended community make their contribution. They all together form a network designed to let us and our brain know that we are loved, that we matter, that people can care enough to calm us.
Many popular songs speak to this basic neurobiologically-based question. I’m convinced that’s a big part of what made them so popular. Here are 20 that I’ve managed to come up with. I’m sure there are untold more. If you’ve got your own favorite song that positively answers The Big Brain Question, feel free to post it below. Here’s my list as hyperlinks so you can give a listen.
- Bridge Over Troubled Waters – Simon & Garfunkel
- Will You Be There – Michael Jackson
- Time After Time – Cyndi Lauper
- I’ll Be There for You – The Rembrandts (Friends Theme)
- Stand By Me – Ben E. King
- Good Enough – Sarah McLaughlan
- How Did You Find Me Here? – David Wilcox
- Everything I Do, I Do It for You – Bryan Adams
- Because You Loved Me – Celine Dion
- I’ll Stand By You – The Pretenders
- You’ve Got a Friend – Carole King
- Love at the Five and Dime – Nanci Griffith
- Where’ve You Been – Kathy Mattea
- Love Me Tender – Elvis Presley
- I’ve Got You Babe – Sonny & Cher
- Now and Forever – Richard Marx
- You Raise Me Up – Josh Groban
- Something In the Way She Moves – James Taylor
- Never Stop – Jackson Browne
- You Are Not Alone – Michael Jackson