The Power of Music


My mom has been in and out of nursing homes for the past few years, and each time she is admitted, it seems to take a while for her to get accustomed to the surroundings.

She is currently entering her third week at a nursing home, and the level of confusion was quite high when she first arrived. She seems to be getting a little better and more aware each day, and we are hoping she will be back home in a week or so.

When we visit, it has been difficult to have conversations not only because of her confusion, but also her poor hearing. It seems like we are shouting loud enough for every resident at the home to hear what we are talking about. As a result, we often try to take her outside for a walk or to just sit in the sunshine for awhile.

But the past couple of visits I started using YouTube on my iPhone to play songs I thought she would remember from her days growing up in Ireland, where she was born in 1926. I remember growing up and listening to her sing Irish songs while she did the wash or got dinner ready. Some of the songs had catchy tunes, but I also seem to recall that many of them seemed to have a protest theme to them 🙂

When I would find a song on YouTube that I thought she might know, I would put the phone right next to her ear, and when she recognized a song, her reaction was priceless. A smile would come to her face, she would get a gleam in her eyes, and remarkably the words would come back to her for many of the songs, and she would start singing out loud.

I am sure that she has not heard some of these songs for 50 or more years, and so it is a testament to the power of music that it can evoke such happy memories from such a long time ago.

It is also a tribute to the power of technology to offer such opportunities.

So I plan to spend some time making a YouTube playlist that will have her favorite songs on it, and I think listening to the songs together will make our visits more enjoyable and memorable.

If you are curious what some of her favorite songs were, here is a list, with links to the YouTube video (they’re not all Irish!):

I’m Looking Over a Four Leaf Clover by Arthur Godfrey

Galway Bay by Bing Crosby

The Isle of Innisfree by Bing Crosby

My Wild Irish Rose by Joe Feeney (from the Lawrence Welk Show!)

Peg O’ My Heart by Buddy Clark (my Mom’s first name is Peg)

You Are My Sunshine by Elizabeth Mitchell

How Much is That Doggie in the Window by Patti Page

It’s the Same Old Shillelagh by Bing Crosby

Dear Old Donegal by Bing Crosby (one of my personal favorites)

Silent Night by Josh Groban

So that’s what I’ve got so far for her playlist, and that doesn’t even include classics like McNamara’s Band, Shoe the Donkey, or O Holy Night.

And of course no such list would be complete without Danny Boy; I just want to make sure I find the best version, although the odds are looking pretty good it could be good old Bing!


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