Music for Reflection and Renewal

by Kerry Dexter /
Kerry Dexter's picture
Aug 15, 2022 / 0 comments

Whether you are at the end of summer in the northern hemisphere or the end of winter in the southern part of the globe, at times it seems to have been a very long season. A long season in the midst of ever-changing times.

In such times, it is good to find moments of quiet, times to refresh one's ideas, one's visions of hope and of connection. Then, to take the next step.

Here is music to help with those things.

Music for Reflection and Renewal

Emily Smith was drawn to appreciating a moment of pause and refreshment one evening as she stepped outside her home in the southwest of Scotland to close things up for the night. The result was her song Sunset Hymn.

You will find it recorded on Emily's album Too Long Away. You may also want to see her recent duo album with her musical partner and husband Jamie McClennan (he is with Emily in this video, too), called Small Town Stories.

At times, it is hard to find or even look for that peace. Carrie Newcomer considers this in her song Sanctuary:

In a state of true believers, on streets called us and them
It's gonna take some time 'til the world feels safe again

are among the lines she sings.

She is thinking also about the need to look for connection and respect and quiet as ways to restore peace and good perspective.

You will find the song on Newcomer's album The Beautiful Not Yet, as well as on the album Carrie Newcomer: Live at the Buskirk-Chumley Theater, which was recorded at a concert in Newcomer's hometown of Bloomington, Indiana. You may also want to see Newcomer's recent album Until Now.

Karine Polwart had thoughts on these ideas too, in her song Travel These Ways.

She was asked to write several songs for a project serving people with dementia and their carers, songs these folk could learn and sing together at home. Pianist Dave Milligan was music director for that project. He and Polwart are long time friends and across the park neighbors where they live in Scotland's Borders. Their work together for that project sparked the idea that maybe they should do an album together, and they have.

Their duo album called Still As Your Sleeping, and they chose the title of the album from a line in Travel These Ways.

You will know this next song, but perhaps not associated with the artist who recorded this track: Olivia Newton John.

If the songs Physical, Xanadu, Summer Night, or You're the One That I Want are running through your head now, yes, they--especially those two (and others) from the film Grease were major parts of Newton-John's career.

Before all those happened, though, she recorded a number of country/folk music albums, won awards for some, and charted songs in the US, UK, and Australia. These are the albums that last for me.

Newton-John passed away recently. To honor of her long career as an artist, an activist for health and wellness, and founder of a cancer hospital and research institute in Melbourne, Australia where she grew up, I've chosen her recording of a song which works with the musical journey we are making in this story.

Newton-John made He Ain't Heavy He's My Brother her own on her album called Clearly Love. The song was written by Bob Russell and Bobby Scott.

Fact you may not know -- Cleary Love and several other of Newton-John's early albums were recorded at Abbey Road Studios. Yes, that Abbey Road.

There are times when music without words is helpful in reflection and renewal, too. The six members of Scotland based Blazin' Fiddles are well known for the power and high flying energy in their lively tunes.

They bring equal energy and presence to quieter music, as well. Here are Bruce MacGregor, Rua MacMillan, Jenna Reid, Kristan Harvey, Angus Lyon, and Anna Massie with Gamekeeper's, written by Jenna Reid.

This video was recorded live at the Celtic Colours Festival in Sydney, Cape Breton, Nova Scotia. You will find the tune recorded on the band's album called North.

Drawing these ideas together is another song from Carrie Newcomer. It is called The Season of Mercy, which began, appropriately enough for wandering educators reading this, as a poem she wrote while on tour, traveling on a train in Germany.

"Everywhere I go there is a thread of beauty," she says of the song. "You can always find it, even in the most broken places - in the natural world and within the people I meet. It I am always touched by the kindness of strangers and by the appearance of mercy when I most need it."

You will find it on the albums The Beautiful Not Yet, and on the album Carrie Newcomer: Live at the Buskirk-Chumley Theater.

May this music help you find and share reflection, mercy, beauty, and renewal when it is most needed, as well.


Thank you for staying with us through this journey. Below, you'll find a link that will take you to an article which has a bit more backstory on the series. It also has links to a number of the stories, including ones called Listening for Community, Music for Winter's Changes, and The Geography of Hope.

Music for Shifting Times

Music for Shifting Times




Kerry Dexter is Music Editor at Wandering Educators. You may reach Kerry at music at wanderingeducators dot com.

You may find more of Kerry's work in National Geographic Traveler, Strings, Perceptive Travel, Journey to Scotland, Irish Fireside, and other places, as well as at her own site, Music Road.