“Therapy” by Mary J. Blige
Recently, my wife and I have played Mary’s “Therapy” video continuously for some weeks. It’s the first song on The London Sessions album. A few years ago, Mary performed it on an award show and we were pleased that a mainstream artist was addressing mental well-being. “Therapy” opens with a series of questions: Why would I spend the rest of my days unhappy? Why would I spend the rest of the year alone? The background singers hum along, like, “Yeah, girl, why?” The listener is invited to interrogate the dissatisfaction they’ve allowed to persist in their life. The organ brings in that church quality and right around the fifth verse, tambourines come in and the spirit of “Go Therapy” enters. While walking down the street, with my earphones in, I’ve caught myself a few times changing my gait into a long-legged glide like zoot-suited Denzel Washington and Spike Lee in Malcolm X. Because with this song, Mary has made therapy, two times a day, a necessary cool.
Cave Canem fellow Arisa White received her MFA from UMass, Amherst, and is the author of Black Pearl, Post Pardon, Hurrah’s Nest, and A Penny Saved. She teaches in the low-residency BFA program at Goddard College and is a lecturer at San Francisco State University. She will be the distinguished visiting writer in residence at Saint Mary’s College of California in Spring 2017. You’re the Most Beautiful Thing that Happened is her newest collection from Augury Books. She can be found online at arisawhite.com.
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