Showing posts with label The Hero's Journey. Show all posts
Showing posts with label The Hero's Journey. Show all posts

Dr. Benjamin Elijah Mays: Born to Rebel and Be a Hero

Morehouse College’s A Candle in the Dark Gala is an annual fundraiser for Morehouse College, a private historical black men’s liberal arts college in Atlanta, Georgia, whose mission is to “develop men with disciplined minds who will lead lives of leadership and service.” At the Gala, the Bennie Awards, named in honor of Dr. Benjamin Elijah Mays, were presented to distinguished alumni. Dr. Benjamin Elijah Mays (August 1, 1894-March 28, 1984) served as the sixth president of Morehouse College from 1940-1967.  Dr. Mays was also a Baptist Minister, a civil rights leader, and a trusted advisor to presidents John F. Kennedy, Lyndon Baines Johnson and Jimmy Carter. How did the son of former slaves rise above challenges to become a revered leader and scholar? Dr. Mays' successful life was primarily due to prayer, dedication and elements of the Hero’s Journey.  Let’s discuss…

The Elixer, Boon: The Hero's Journey and Sulwe by Lupita Nyong'o

Actress Lupita Nyong'o holds Sulwe, her bestselling children's picture book

In The Hero With A Thousand Faces by Joseph Campbell, the acquisition of the boon, or elixir, culminates an episode of the Hero’s Journey.  Campbell explains on page 211, “The boon that he brings restores the world (elixir)." An elixir is a “medicine with the power to cure all ills.  The boon, or knowledge, is the gift the hero earns for having the courage to undertake and complete the journey, but it belongs to the world. Like the sun shares its light with everyone, we are to share our wisdom, or boon, with others. Academy Award Winning Actress Lupita Nyong’o recently published a children’s picture book, Sulwe, about lessons she learned about beauty and self-respect. Lupita’s elixir speaks to the voices of many who felt unheard until now. Sulwe is a New York Times bestseller. Let’s discuss…..

"What You Resist, Persists" by Carl Jung, A Perspective

Recently, my friend Jean caught a debilitating cold. Per doctor’s orders, she was placed on bed rest for several days. Eventually, she recovered. Jean may catch another cold, but probably not the exact same one she just experienced. Why? Because her body is now immune to the particular virus that caused her cold.  Jean’s cold inspired me to reflect on a popular quote by Carl Jung, “What you resist, persists.” Let’s discuss….

This Jungian Life: A Podcast You Should Know

My friend Mae habitually procrastinates. If Mae has a Friday deadline to complete a task, she will start working on Thursday night. At one time in your life, you probably experienced procrastination directly or indirectly. What causes the propensity to put off into the future, what can be completed in the present?  Is it due to a lack of self-control? Laziness? Not caring? Apathy? As I pondered these questions, I coincidentally discovered This Jungian Life, a podcast which brings a psychological perspective to important issues in life, according to their introduction. From their episode on procrastination, I learned about causes for the tendency to procrastinate, and strategies used to overcome the habit. Let’s talk about it…

Peace Begins With You: The International Day of Peace, September 21, 2019

On September 21, 2019, I plan to join the world community in observing the International Day of Peace with rituals, reflections, meditation and songs. Join us. Like you, I believe peace is a daily goal. Who doesn’t want peace? However, we are challenged to manifest peace due to our internal and external political and social conflicts. Yet, within the human collective is a strong desire for peace. Why should you observe the International Day of Peace? Let’s talk about it….

Flashdance...What a Feeling: A Song Critique Using The Hero's Journey

Published on July 4, 2019

In a previous post, we discussed the benefits of writing and implementing personal mission, vision and values statements. The next step is belief. A popular 1980’s Academy Award winning song explores the power of belief. The song is "Flashdance…What a Feeling" written by Giorgio Moroder, Keith Forsey and Irene Cara; The movie is Flashdance. Let’s go on a journey….

Villains: A Case Study of Ressentiment

Why Villains are Important 

Note: For the purpose of this blog, a villain is one who opposes the goals of a hero. The person does not have to be evil like they are painted in movies. They have an agenda that conflicts with the hero. A prominent characteristic is their willingness to use graceless methods to achieve their goals. For me, they serve as tests and teachers.  Let's learn together and reveal the possibilities.

Song Critique - New Attitude by Patti LaBelle Using the Hero's Journey

What are the components that produce successful songs?  I used to believe it was only a combination of three elements: lyrics, music, and recording artist. For an example, New Attitude, a popular 80’s song, has redemptive lyrics, a techno danceable beat, and was recorded by Patti LaBelle, a well-liked R&B singer.  At the peak of its popularity, New Attitude was a staple on the air-ways, an anthem for empowerment, and was the introductory music for the Dr. Laura radio program. Recently, after hearing it on the radio, I became aware of another layer that makes it favored by many and still popular today-the songwriters used elements of the hero’s journey to craft a universally relatable story about redemption.

New Attitude – Song Analysis using the Hero’s Journey

Based on Joseph Campbell’s book, The Hero With a Thousand Faces, I summarize the hero’s journey into four acts:
I.                Existence in the ordinary world
II.              Ordeal
III.            Confrontation of the ordeal
IV.            Change/redemption.

Act 1 and Act II

Introductory notes express urgency.  A synthesized drum-beat serves as a prelude to an even faster up tempo melody. Your mind immediately thinks about something moving rapidly, possibly people running. Are they escaping danger? The opening lyrics fit the musically enhanced feelings of dread:


“Running hot

Running cold

I was running into overload

That was extreme”


Writers decide where to begin a hero’s story. This story begins at Act II with describing the ordeal; skipping Act I. The hero begins a tale about a stressful life experience from the past. The use of ‘hot’ and ‘cold’ in close proximity indicate confusion. Also, the use of temperatures give the impression of a body fever, or possibly an illness.  


“I took it so high so low so long

There was nowhere to go like a bad dream”


These verses reiterate the first four lines, but give more insight into the struggle. This was not a brief episode. The hero hit rock bottom and reached despair. What I really like about these lyrics is that we do not know exactly what caused the meltdown, and neither do we know what ‘it’ is.  The use of the pronoun ‘it’ allows the audience to fill in the blank with events from their own lives which makes the song relevant to a large audience.


Before the next group of lyrics, I hear a decrescendo which lightly relaxes the music’s high intensity.  A positive change has occurred:

New Attitude – Act III

The inciting event described in Act II was confronted and resolved. By using the general word ‘somehow’, we do not know what caused the change. Likewise, we do not know what was the ‘lesson to learn’. Again, the songwriters use non-specific lyrics to make the song relatable to anyone’s journey.


“Somehow the wires uncrossed

The tables were turned

Never knew I had such a lesson to learn”


New Attitude - Act IV

Now, with this new insight, the hero details how her life changed. The music's upbeat intensity reflects the meaning.



“I'm feeling good from my hat to my shoe
Know where I am going and I know what to do
I've tidied up my point of view
I've got a new attitude. I'm in control
My worries are few
'Cause I got love like I never knew
Ooh oh ooo oh
I've got a new attitude”


What caused the hero's ‘New Attitude’?  ‘Cause I got love like I never knew’. The hero found love, but she did not elaborate on what type of love.  Is it romantic love? Friendship love? Intellectual love? Self-love?  With this new love, whatever type of love it was, she has new insights for a fruitful life. Now the hero is in control and has few worries. She feels wonderful, hence the exuberant music that accompanies the chorus.

New Attitude – Act IV

The musical melody is primarily a repeat of the first movement. We hear additional details about the hero’s new life.  The ‘new dress, a new hat’ could be metaphors for both new inner and outer awareness.  She has ‘new ideas’ and is ‘changed for good’.  Notice the general nouns and adjectives. By not being specific, the songwriters allow us, the listeners, to see our personal life experiences in the story. I'm wearing a new dress, new hat  Brand new ideas, As a matter of fact I've changed for good.” The ‘cold nights’ could mean the hero spent time in reflective isolation.  The ‘new moon’ and ‘night changes’ represent an extended period of time

“Must have been the cold nights new moon
Night changes
Or forget your love for just being like I should”

The last line, ’or forget your love for just being like I should’, puzzles me.  When I listen to the track, I cannot make out what Patti LaBelle is singing, exactly. I believe “just being like I should” means the hero let go of a false reality and replaced it with an authentic one.

Repeat: Bridge and Chorus
The Hero sings the end of her story confidently and with purpose.  You cannot help but be happy for her.

Whenever I listen to songs from my youth, they reveal qualities relevant to me now as an adult.  New Attitude is not just a song with an infectious danceable beat. Its cleverly written lyrics and engaging story unfold as a universal hero’s myth about overcoming life’s challenges and obstacles, and finding new reasons for living, of which we all can relate.



Old life. New Life Logo retrieved from

Campbell, Joseph. (1949). The Hero With a Thousand Faces. Princeton, New Jersey. Princeton University Press.

Song Lyrics, New Attitude. Retrieved from New Attitude lyrics searched on