Written by: Yameen Chestnut, MS, LMFT, NCC
In case you haven’t yet listened to the newly released album by Solange Knowles, I strongly suggest you do. And just in case you’re completely out of the loop on who Solange Knowles is, YES, she is the younger, and definitely WOKE sister of one Beyoncé Knowles. If you happen to be a fan of solid instrumentation and acoustics or deep percussive beats, it’s my firm belief you’ll love the headspace this album puts you in. I myself have listened to it daily, like I do most new albums when they’re released, because the music sort of grows legs and morphs into something different than the first time I experienced it.
I’ve always found it fascinating how my favorite songs on an album begin to develop over time, somewhat like any other experience one goes through on a regular basis. Where you end up is not often where you’ve begun, and that’s not a bad thing in my book. Now allow me to get away from this post coming across as a music critique, but veer in the direction I was initially motivated to write about which is not only this artist’s growth, but one song by her in particular.
That being said, I have but one major point to begin with and it is this…SOLANGE OR WHOEVER WROTE THE ‘CRANES IN THE SKY’ SONG IS EITHER GENIUS, KNOWS ABOUT THE PSYCHOLOGICAL ROLES OF EMOTION, OR BOTH! How did she so cleverly write about a major mental health struggle carried by so many while putting it into a format which makes it so palatable and easy to accept? For those that can relate to depression, anxiety, and the like, it’s as if she stood on a mountain top with a gigantic microphone and proclaimed “YOU ARE NOT ALONE IN YOUR STRUGGLE!” For those unfamiliar with the lyrics, just take a look at the following and ask yourself if you’ve ever dealt with anything similar:
I tried to drink it away
I tried to put one in the air
I tried to dance it away
I tried to change it with my hair
I ran my credit card bill up
Thought a new dress would make it better
I tried to work it away
But that just made me even sadder
I tried to keep myself busy
I ran around in circles
Think I made myself dizzy
I slept it away, I sexed it away
I read it away
Well it’s like cranes in the sky
Sometimes I don’t wanna feel those metal clouds
The song goes on to touch on other ways she’s tried to deal with avoiding “it”. She even sings about traveling to 70 states to try to get rid of “it”! I’m only familiar with 50 states, so I can’t even imagine these other lesser known 20 states she had to go to in order to shake “it” away! That “it” is what many people have struggled with at points in their lives. For some, “it” is an indescribable and ever present reminder of how important processing emotion is, as well as how we as humans go through our lives attempting to resolve struggles in all sorts of odd ways: Odd, and temporarily soothing ways such as shopping therapy, hiding in your work, and many people’s favorite, F.G.T. That’s fermented grape therapy for the unfamiliar.
The remedy to the unsuccessful reliance on “it” can be summed up as the pursuit of happiness and balance being achieved, not by avoiding painful feelings, but by being aware of their presence, acknowledging their existence, accepting the challenges, and beginning your process of healing by deciding what needs to be done by you first to begin feeling better. The thing about feelings and emotions is they have this buoyant nature and quality about themselves, that cause them to be better dealt with when not suppressed. It’s been said that depression is the opposite of expression. By that account, emotions are meant to be expressed and not held down, pushed away, worked away, drank away, sexed away, slept away, etc…You get the point.
The more pushing down of emotions we try to do, the more they seem to pop back up much like a beach ball does in the water when pushed under. Emotions are pushed down for various reasons, and understandably so. Dealing with complex emotions can be hard and painful, and much like Solange describes, we don’t wanna feel those metal clouds. I’m taking Liberty that she equates those “metal clouds” with pain… Expression of emotions, although difficult at times, should be our aim, and hopefully in a productive and healthy way. So kudos to Solange and her subtle, yet cleverly disguised campaign for the importance of improving our own mental health via the healthy expression of emotions. We could all benefit from the reminder to look out for those Cranes In The Sky!
Yameen specializes in mood disorders, youth & adolescent work, couples, pre-marital and family counseling related to transitions, adoption and trauma. If you’d like to schedule an appointment with him, you can email him at email@example.com or call him at the office at 317-471-8996.