The 2023 A-to-Z blogging challenge theme is resilience. Resilience is the ability to get back on our feet and keep going after life knocks us down and kicks sand in our faces. Resilience is how the psyche survives and copes, but resilience doesn’t necessarily wear a cape of positivity.
The 26 songs I’ve chosen show us, musically, what resilience looks (sounds?) like. I’ll offer a reflection of the resilience in each song. The songs are alphabetical by the artist’s first name or the group’s name, except for M, O, U, and X.
I is for Idina Menzel and Let It Go.
Let it Go is the movie theme song from the 2013 Disney movie Frozen.
The set-up to this song is the citizens of the Kingdom of Arendelle have witnessed Queen Elsa’s secret on her coronation day: She has the power to create and melt ice and snow as well as affect the weather. However, her ability to do these magical things is enmeshed with her ability to control, or not control, her emotions. The citizens see Elsa lose her emotional control, which brings about a deep winter in the middle of summer. Horrified at what she’s done, Elsa makes her escape up the mountain. She begins singing… a kingdom of isolation and it looks like I’m the queen…
This song is presented in self-talk fashion. Elsa works her way through where she’s been…
*Be the good girl you always have to be
*Conceal, don’t feel, don’t let them know
*Don’t let them in, don’t let them see
*Couldn’t keep it in, heaven knows I tried
where she is now…
*Can’t hold it back anymore
*Turn away and slam the door
*I don’t care what they’re going to say
and where she’s going…
*Distance makes everything seem small
*Fears that once controlled me can’t get to me at all
*Time to see what I can do
*Test the limits and break through
*No right, no wrong, no rules for me
*Never going back, the past is in the past
*Rise like the break of dawn
*Perfect girl is gone
*Here I stand in the light of day
*Let it Go!
All of this self-talk is her resilience working overtime to make sense of what precipitated her hasty exit from the castle, aka, the isolated life she’s been trapped in. Her inner turmoil as she left the castle was equal to the outer storm of howling wind she created: both raging out of control.
The pressure of being perfect, of living up to her father’s/society’s expectations that she be a good girl reached the boiling-over point, causing her to lose emotional control. That emotional firestorm was fueled by years of believing her powers were shameful, and that she must conceal who she really is.
Now that she’s escaped from the prison of her mind as well as the prison the castle came to represent, she is able to self-assess and regroup. Her true self has been exposed, which in itself is a liberation of the mind and spirit.
However, her psyche is also rationalizing that it is better to live how she chooses than to live how others choose for her. That’s where the line the cold never bothered me anyway comes in. While at the castle, she learned to live in an emotionally and psychologically cold (loveless/solitary/unfeeling) environment that was also physically cold due to the nature of her powers. She’s trying to convince herself that she doesn’t need the warmth of someone’s love any more than she needs the warmth of shelter.
But nothing is free. There is a price to pay. She’s simply traded one cold, lonely existence for another. This is an example of the less positive side of resilience. Instead of staying at the castle, or returning to the castle, to work through the frozen destruction she left in her wake, she’s lying to herself that she, and everyone else including her sister who dearly loves her, is better off if she stays away. Her psyche isn’t strong enough at this point to face the consequences of her deep-freeze, runaway actions. She is in straight flight mode looking for a new place to hide. She’s lying to herself that running away is the only solution. Her resilience is on overload. It’s the best she can do right now.
I see this song as a testament to personal empowerment and of discovering independence. I also see it as a lesson of living with the choices and decisions we make when we don’t consider how those choices and decisions will impact others.
Elsa didn’t consciously intend to reveal her powers to the citizens in her fit of anger, but subconsciously, her psyche, her resilience and will to live had reached a level of intolerance for her prisoner-like existence in the cold and isolated life she was living. Her psyche reached Popeye level: It’s all I can stands. I can’t stands no more. Her future as queen or up on the mountain alone, will continue to be a frozen, cold, loveless existence, so she makes her choice, because it is now, for the first time in her life, her choice.
I find this song to be an incredibly sad and lonely song, even though I can see how it is resilience anthem for personal liberation, whatever that liberation means or signifies.
This is the 4th of the seven resilience anthems this month.
*Image of woman and scarf by Wanderingtheworld
Until next time
writing through history one romance upon a time
It’s fun to have a power ballad for girls in the repertoire. I agree that it almost immediately gets dashed in the plot, for some good reason. On the whole, I like Frozen and Frozen 2 as a story for Elsa that works together. She gets to take her place in the north, but without the complete isolation.
I heartily agree. Frozen and Frozen 2 work well as Elsa’s story. There are many layers to her story.
I always thought it was an incredibly powerful song of self-love and respect despite the consequences she has to suffer.
Ooh. I like that perspective a lot. I love hearing from people and their takes on these songs. There isn’t one single way to interpret what any song means to us personally.
That’s true. There is a theory in poetry by Hilde Domin which says as soon as you publishe a poem it’s not yours anymore because the reader will bring his or her own experiences and Interpretations into the poem and with that it changes. I think that counts for songs too.
It sounds like a very confronting song.
My grandchildren were quite young when this movie came out, so singing “Let It Go!” at the top of their lungs while twirling and prancing was a regular activity. 😉 The tune is catchy. I didn’t think anything of the lyrics for years other than it was an uplifting, empowering song of letting go of what stresses us. But after so many listenings, I began thinking differently about the lyrics. My grandkids would undoubtedly roll their eyes and tell me I’m overthinking now. 🤣
I think that is one of the wonders of Disney. Everything is layered and at different stages in your life you get a glimpse at something new.
That’s a really good point. Bugs Bunny cartoons when I was a child watching them and Bunny cartoons as an adult are two different experiences. 🙂