lift your spirit (good music): elizabeth mitchell

Music lovers can mark the seasons of their lives by what they were listening to at the time.

A beloved band or a favorite song or even a few notes take us back to when we loved that music. Sometimes for me the memories are so strong – for good and for bad – that I have to open my eyes and remember I’m no longer there.

In the years that come, Elizabeth Mitchell‘s voice will always pull me back to these early days of mothering. I first discovered her gentle lilt on a Putumayo children’s CD, and then one by one her albums have crept into our home. We are all better for it.

Elizabeth’s music is balm to my frenzied days of parenting. She has become the soundtrack to our evenings, the antidote to our witching hour. I push “play,” and her soft soprano fills the air, accompanied by gentle guitar and the sweet sounds of her daughter and husband harmonizing in the background. Family folk music at its best.

(The fact that they cover Bob Marley’s “Three Little Birds” AND the Velvet Underground’s “What Goes On” on the same album only makes me love her more.)

One song in particular has been lifting me up lately. I first heard “Peace Like A River” when a friend and I were lucky enough to hear Elizabeth live in concert last year. The song was simple enough to teach to the audience in two minutes or less, and we all sang along as Elizabeth strummed the guitar and her daughter Storey played the harmonica.

When I discovered this track was on her “You Are My Little Bird” album, I was delighted. It came along during a week when I need more than a little peace like a river in my soul. On one especially awful day, I reached the end of my rope and was thisclose to screaming at the children. But that song serendipitously snuck into my head, and I decided to sing instead of scream.

I kid you not, it was one of those rare, magical moments of parenting. The toddler stopped whining, the baby stopped screaming, and smiles crept across both their faces. The song is simple enough that by the third go-round, S was singing along. Later that night, I heard him singing it to himself in his crib as he went to sleep, and I smiled again. We all need peace like a river, joy like a fountain, love like an ocean.

I hope this lifts your spirit today, too. Enjoy.

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