Amanda West: The Healing Power of Music

Early on in my journey toward healing, my daughter gave me a soundtrack to keep me company: CDs of a number of songwriters and musicians from her generation whose messages she thought would be useful for me in my travels. She was right. Through powerful lyrics, compelling melodies, and beautiful voices, I began to hear universal truths and realize how music—whether of our own time or of centuries past—cuts through our thoughts, assumptions, beliefs, to the essence of a humanity we all share. We are not alone.

There is truly a healing power in music, and Amanda West is one of these remarkable musicians who holds this power in her songs. She calls herself a “philosophical folk songstress,” and with good reason. As I listened to her songs, sung with a voice of angelic purity, I heard, with astonishment, lyrics that seemed to describe my experiences and feelings with eerie accuracy. How could someone so young (relative to me!) seem to understand just what I was going through, and to offer the wisdom of such an “old soul?” I had to find out, so I wrote to ask if I could interview her, and she graciously agreed.

Just a few of Amada West’s lyrics:

“Times like these I have to believe
That we are part of something grander than we’ll ever know
Maybe all I really want is all within me
And I think all I really need is already here

“There are two things every traveler must remember,” he told me
One, you will always return
And Two, you cannot fight the journey, so you gotta just let it carry you
You gotta just, just let it carry you

And I want to travel with you
For as long as it’s what we are meant to do
And I know a day will come when you or I must go
But for time in my life spent with you I am so grateful.”

© Amanda West: “Ready to Travel”

I discovered a profound and thoughtful woman, with a deep commitment to social justice, human rights, and the social struggles and health of women. She uses her music to convey messages of personal healing and hope, as well as to contribute to social change. Amanda sang before she could talk, and began playing the guitar and writing her own songs at age 11. Her degree is in anthropology and she traveled the world to study the human experience in other cultures. Her musical influences include the folk songs of the sixties that her parents played at home, as well as contemporary singer/songwriters such as Sarah McLachlan, Alanis Morissette, and Loreena McKennitt.

All of which is noteworthy, but did not quite explain how she could write such powerful lyrics about relationships: love and loss, trust and betrayal, and the triumph of faith and compassion:

All the truths

That created my wounds

Were dug out today:


You are as you are

And I am as I am

And to save us both we can only separate


And in the morning

I will turn your ring around

Your heart will be

Your own again

© Amanda West: In the Morning

Amanda has had her own suffering in life: she was struck by a car and severely injured in high school and, while in college, was mistakenly diagnosed with terminal cancer. Later on, she encountered aspects of human suffering in her travels that led to her song, The Age of Disillusionment. She also had her share of painful relationships, though she is now happily married. “I needed to be able to grasp and understand the dark side of life,” she told me. “And this understanding created an emotional space that has opened me up to work through suffering and hard times with compassion. I want to be able to do that for others, not just for me, and these songs come out of me through that space.”

“That’s why the world is on trial in my mind
and I just need time, to be, to see, and to breathe on this,
to know to hate to have to hold to love to be on this
to wander, to wander, and to be
on this side

Nothing’s looking like it used to…
Nothing’s feeling like it used to…
This is the age of…
is the age of disillusionment”

© Amanda West: The Age of Disillusionment”

Go to her website to hear some of her music and read her astonishing lyrics.

Some of my favorite songs, besides the ones mentioned above: Fantasy – a chilling reminder of the victimization of women; and In the Morning— the most heartbreakingly beautiful, and true, description of the end of a relationship I have ever seen.

1 Comment

Filed under Music

One response to “Amanda West: The Healing Power of Music

  1. Thanks for the great post. Its interesting how musicians seem to make the most powerful music during difficult times. I think that points towards the healing power of music.


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