Prescribing Playlists – Part 2 of an Interview with Barry Goldstein

Dr Daniel Amen and Tana Amen BSN RN On The Brain Warrior's Way Podcast

In the second installment of our series with Grammy Award winning producer Barry Goldstein, Dr. Daniel Amen and Tana Amen continue the discussion on the benefits of music. Learn how the power of rhythm can decrease inflammation, how pop songs can help people with ADD, and why you should create your own personal playlists to connect to any mood you want.


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Tana Amen: So welcome back, we are still here with our friend Barry Goldstein and I have to tell you I'm having so much fun. I just learned something really interesting. I always thought that my, especially 'cause of my husband Dr. Amen, that my love of rock was because of my A.D.D. and I just learned it's because it grounds me! I'm so happy.

Daniel Amen: Often because you have A.D.D.

Tana Amen: So we're just having a blast, talking about music, how it affects your brain, what the science is behind it, and so welcome back.

Barry Goldstein: Thank you, this is awesome.

Tana Amen: We're having a blast.

Daniel Amen: So before we get into different strokes for different folks, let's spend more time and talk about how music can help you through your day. So if you're getting ready to film, or you're getting ready for a meeting, what can you do with music ahead of time?

Barry Goldstein: Well again, asking yourself, "Where am I now? Where do I want to go?", that's going to be my rule of thumb that I keep going back to. And if you're looking to be more motivated or more inspired 'cause you have a leadership meeting, you know I like to listen to Vangelis. I like to listen to music with a lot of impact to it. For me, that really inspires and kind of starts my flame-

Tana Amen: Yeah.

Barry Goldstein: To go, you want to tap into that fire energy.

Daniel Amen: So other examples of that might be?

Barry Goldstein: Yeah, I mean, it could be Native American drumming. Things with rhythm, that we're finding more and more the power of rhythm. We haven't really studied that that much in the past, but we're learning more and more that even in drum circles, which is very similar to like Native American drums, where people are actually hitting a drum or hitting an instrument that there is decreased inflammation-

Tana Amen: Oh that's so interesting

Barry Goldstein: -that's going on in the physical body. That's a new study that I just read.

Daniel Amen: Wow.

Barry Goldstein: And so if you think about that, when you're drumming what's going on? You're releasing, right, a lot of-

Tana Amen: Wow.

Barry Goldstein: -pent up emotions that are going on. It's a lot of that energy. So it's not that different when you're listening to it.

Daniel Amen: So I've just been texting with Tony Robbins. He has been talking about our work at some of his seminars and so Tana and I are actually going to go to his seminar which we're really excited about. And I know he uses music a lot-

Tana Amen: A lot.

Daniel Amen: -throughout his events to get people excited, motivated ... Talk about how seminar leaders or motivational speakers might use it to pump up a crowd, but how then people can use it to pump up themselves.

Barry Goldstein: Yeah, and I guarantee that Anthony Robbins in each section is saying, "Wow, where is my audience now? And where do I want to take them?"

Tana Amen: Yup, because I've been through his trainings and in each one when he goes through the relationship training it's very different.

Barry Goldstein: Right, it's going to be like really beautiful-

Tana Amen: Yeah.

Barry Goldstein: -music, you want to open the heart up. So you want to induce that emotion, you know, where you're feeling more contemplative so you can go inwards so it creates more safety when you're playing that slower more beautiful music. But then when people are released, right, and they're on the other side, in other words they've made their conquest and they've had their breakthrough.

Tana Amen: Right.

Barry Goldstein: Right, 'cause I ... Anthony Robbins was the first book I've ever read that was kind of in the self-help and motivation and I loved it. And then I saw what he was doing at seminars and I go, "Well he's really the DJ of these people's experience-"

Tana Amen: That's interesting.

Barry Goldstein: "-of what's going on." So he's going to have a much more uptempo, right, a more success driven, "We did it." Very inspirational to share in that joy. So he's really targeting those-

Daniel Amen: 'Cause that becomes a theme, I think, to become the DJ of your own life, of your own experience. So you can take yourself where you want to go with music.

Barry Goldstein: And that's the power of it, because normally we leave that to other people to do for us. And when we basically say, "Wow, I'm going to become the DJ of my own life, I'm going to make this a program that I'm going to incorporate." Then it moves beyond art and entertainment where we're having these random, powerful experiences. Why? Why do they have to be random? Why do you have to go to a Tony Robbins' workshop or why do you need to go to a wedding where you're going from point A to point B-

Tana Amen: Right.

Barry Goldstein: -from cocktail hour where you're relaxed to the emotion of the bride dancing with the father. We're all being taken there by a DJ. And just like the Anthony Robbins event, we can create this in our life after those amazing experiences that we're having where we're creating transformation like a Tony Robbins workshop. Okay, great. How do you keep that energy up for the next three weeks? Play Tony Robbins yourself in your own life with music.

Tana Amen: Well, and it's one of the reasons that they actually give out their playlists, because they had so many people requesting it.

Barry Goldstein: Right.

Tana Amen: So they actually create a playlist of the music they use in the ...

Barry Goldstein: Exactly, and my book has different playlists not for just different genres-

Tana Amen: Oh interesting.

Barry Goldstein: -but it targets different emotions. So let's create a playlist for gratitude.

Tana Amen: Ohhh.

Barry Goldstein: [crosstalk 00:06:36]

Tana Amen: So you actually have those playlists?

Barry Goldstein: Yes, it's in the book. There's ten different-

Tana Amen: Oh I love that.

Daniel Amen: The Secret Language of the Heart.

Barry Goldstein: That's right.

Daniel Amen: Barry's best selling book ... so Barry Goldstein: The Secret Language of the Heart, available everywhere, Amazon,, and so on.

Tana Amen: I like that you did that.

Barry Goldstein: Yeah, because people always say, "Well how do I do it?" So let's give them a starting point and say, "Well here's one for joy."

Tana Amen: Interesting.

Barry Goldstein: I have Joy to the World in there by Three Dog Night, which you probably won't like 'cause it was from the '70s.

Tana Amen: You're probably right.

Barry Goldstein: And each one has ten songs, and then I plug it into my bay, because I know ... I think we focus so much on things to do in our day. And we start checking off things to do, "Oh okay, I did that."

Tana Amen: Yeah.

Barry Goldstein: But we very rarely look at how we want to do that-

Tana Amen: And emotion and-

Barry Goldstein: That's right-

Daniel Amen: So we have to shift a little bit-

Barry Goldstein: I want to do this theme of joy-

Daniel Amen: We have to shift a little bit, although this will relate. I wrote a book once called Sex on the Brain and actually got re-released as The Brain and Love, and one of the things I wrote about is if you're going to be really loving, you have to know about the brain of your partner. So if we just think about making love, that the A.D.D. brain, it needs to surprised, wound up, excited, you know 'cause we use stimulants to treat it.

Tana Amen: Really? We're going there on this podcast?

Daniel Amen: But if you're with a partner that's a little OCD and things need to be a certain way, ritual becomes critically important for them to be able to relax. Or if they're really anxious, that heavy metal is probably not the right thing to play to get your person in the mood. So it's targeting the music to the brain that we see, so at where you can take our brain health assessment, you know there are some people that are spontaneous, they need newness, excitement, stimulation. There are other people that are cautious, and they need things to sorta settle down that anxiety. There are other people that are sensitive and can be sad easily, others that are persistent. And so creating playlists, if you will, to help your partner get in the mood-

Barry Goldstein: That's correct.

Daniel Amen: -is really important.

Tana Amen: See I actually think this is important because I notice this in our own lives, so it's really funny. There's clearly music we both love, and so ... I'm always telling him, "Find the music we both love." Because he'll put on music ... He's very mellow, and he's very just relaxed most of the time and happy all the time and he'll put music on-

Daniel Amen: And I'll listen to the same song a thousand times.

Tana Amen: Ahhh, it makes me psychotic.

Daniel Amen: [crosstalk 00:09:24] so happy about that, like the soundtrack from La La Land-

Tana Amen: No, he sings Christmas songs in July.

Daniel Amen: -I just love the soundtrack.

Tana Amen: It makes me crazy. But he'll put music on-

Barry Goldstein: I'm just laughing 'cause Donese, my wife, and I are very similar. I'm very like this, and she has her music that she just loves.

Tana Amen: Right.

Barry Goldstein: And yeah, you're absolutely right we have to find a balance.

Tana Amen: It can actually be somewhat agitating so ... Agitated is not the right word, but he'll play certain music that, believe it or not, it's too calm for me. It bothers me. I'll find myself getting a little bit agitated and then when I like ... The only music because he loves music ... we'll be in the car and the only music he doesn't seem to love is my playlist. Like I'll notice him suddenly going, "Turn that down. Turn that down. I'm trying to talk to you."

Daniel Amen: Right, and I have a hearing problem so-

Tana Amen: Right, so it's the only time that we actually don't sort of connect on that is his music's a little too calm for me and mine's probably a little too wound up for him.

Barry Goldstein: Right, [inaudible 00:10:18] so I think that's a great idea to create a playlist where you have mutual things that you like and also I think there's probably songs that bridge the two.

Tana Amen: Right.

Barry Goldstein: So Daniel's might be a little mellow-

Tana Amen: Like Adele is great or-

Barry Goldstein: Right, like those in between songs that are mid tempo songs.

Tana Amen: Right.

Daniel Amen: So for someone who has A.D.D. and-

Tana Amen: You're just stuck on this aren't you?

Daniel Amen: -the classic A.D.D., where they really want more energy so they can focus. What are good things for them to think about?

Barry Goldstein: Well actually, for A.D.D., and they're showing in some classrooms too, that for arithmetic and A.D.D. students, that they're finding that actually popular music works pretty well. And if you think about it, it makes sense because they're more structured. So that disorder, you need more structure, you need more foundation. They know the verse is going to come here, the bridge is going to come here, and they can sing along-

Tana Amen: Oh is that what it is?

Barry Goldstein: -to the chorus.

Tana Amen: See I blasted rock music all the way through school.

Barry Goldstein: Yeah, so that gives you a foundation and you know what to come back to. There's a safe place to land-

Tana Amen: Oh that's so interesting.

Daniel Amen: So some examples might be Katy Perry's music or ...

Barry Goldstein: Katy Perry's music or, again, preferred music. For each one of those ... and I think that's an important thing with kids today and parents, is exactly what you're talking about. You don't want to be judged on the type of music that you're listening to. Kids, that's how they also become to form their own personalities is through music. Like I could tell you the first album that I bought was Elton John's Greatest Hits. And again, they pride themselves on their music so to speak. So if the parents don't love that music, it's actually creates the space for them to have a great conversation with their child.

Tana Amen: Oh we have the best conversations-

Daniel Amen: Yeah, but they should be ... Parents should be-

Barry Goldstein: What do you like about this?

Tana Amen: Oh it's hilarious, the conversations my daughter and I have when she's-

Daniel Amen: The parents should be listening to the music-

Barry Goldstein: That's the point-

Daniel Amen: -because words matter-

Barry Goldstein: Words matter.

Daniel Amen: -words matter and if they're toxic, hateful ... that really, it becomes part of the neuronal networks in that child's brain and when I ... Because I'm a child psychiatrist as well and will work a residential treatment facility, the music they would come into listening was just awful. And we would go, "Mmmn, not okay here." Because words matter.

Barry Goldstein: Right, and that's the whole point. They should be listening to that so they can create guidance and find out the why behind it.

Tana Amen: Yeah just-

Barry Goldstein: So what do you like about this music?

Tana Amen: -just shutting it down is never going to work in the history of the universe. I think understanding them and talking to them-

Barry Goldstein: That's right.

Tana Amen: -I know I do that with my daughter and we've had the funniest conversations about why she listens to what she listens to. She thinks the music today is so much worse than it was when I was growing up and I'm like, "Eh, not so much. Have you ever heard AC/DC and some of these songs?" And so we have these amazing conversations because she thinks she had to hide it from me, but me opening that door, then she doesn't have to hide it and then she's like, "Wow, I had no idea." And then we have that conversation and I'm able to tell her, "You know, honey, I actually have faith that if we talk about this and you are the kind of person I know you are, that hearing a song at a certain time isn't going to change who you are. But you have to be aware-"

Barry Goldstein: That's right.

Tana Amen: "-You need to know and you need to be aware."

Daniel Amen: Well and parents need to supervise children until their brains develop. I mean that's why God gave us parents.

Tana Amen: But my daughter doesn't listen to dark music.

Barry Goldstein: And there's also common ground there-

Daniel Amen: Right, she's awesome.

Barry Goldstein: -When they have something that you love that you love as well, it doesn't always have to be, "This is your music. This is my music."

Tana Amen: Right.

Barry Goldstein: I think there's a lot of kids who are now appreciating older music and a lot of parents who are appreciating newer music.

Daniel Amen: And often it's a symptom of the relationship-

Barry Goldstein: Exactly.

Daniel Amen: -And so if you spend time with your kids, if you listen, if you have a good relationship, they tend to pick your values. And unless your music's awful like the '70s, they'll enjoy that-

Barry Goldstein: I love '70s music, sorry Tana.

Daniel Amen: Yeah, me too.

Tana Amen: Like nails on a chalkboard for me.

Daniel Amen: What about people who struggle with anxiety or depression?

Barry Goldstein: Well anxiety and depression is usually fear turned inward, in terms of the experience of that. And so they don't get a large opportunity to always work with the energy of it. I was reading something that you guys said in one of your blogs about working with fear and anxiety, that we have to feel the emotion in order to release it, or to work with it, and it's the same thing.

Sleep is such an important part of all of these things because people who are not getting enough sleep, very often it manifests into depression or anxiety. And what we're seeing with that is that because we're so busy with internet, and we're so active before sleep, that we're not giving ourselves a chance to process or to wind down before sleep. So we wake up and we haven't had enough sleep. We move into states where we're more anxious and also it works against us in terms of keeping our moods up. So sleeping challenges and music for sleep are very important in terms of working with both anxiety and depression. And music for that, it's similar to what we're talking about within our program that we created, is we have a wind down piece on there called Alpha Evenings. That's perfect for that because you want to bridge your brain wave states. You want to go from beta, right, you don't want to just crash into delta. So this gives you the opportunity to bridge those states.

Tana Amen: Interesting.

Barry Goldstein: And also, I feel it's an important process to look at our day. So my book isn't just about music, it's about sound and vibration as well. So sound is, again, our voice. When you're voicing yourself and you're able to release or talk about what your day incurred, "So today I experienced this anxiety, or this challenge in my life," before we go to sleep, then we're able to process it and we don't wake up with as much of it. So it's all about recognizing what you're anxious about, what did you learn from your day, and to actually speak it out loud before you're going to sleep. To bring in the essence of releasing some of those fears.

Daniel Amen: So you can get The Brain Warrior's Way music album at iTunes, at, at cdbaby, we're really proud of it. You can also listen to Barry's music on brainfitlife-

Barry Goldstein: That's right.

Daniel Amen: -So if you sign up for brainfitlife, go to and we have so many great tools from hypnosis audios, mindfulness meditation, but my favorite part ... I have an LPGA golfer that has brainfitlife on her phone and she loves the music 'cause it helps her relax before she goes out and plays. So, so many things-

Barry Goldstein: Another great tool for anxiousness is, this is what I call the internal symphony as well because we tend to view music that happens as something outside of us, but it's also something that's happening in us as well. So when I'm anxious, or I'm moving to a state where I'm not feeling great, I actually place my hands on my heart and I just breathe into my heart and I breathe out of my heart.

Tana Amen: I like that.

Barry Goldstein: I close my eyes and I just connect because each one of us has a unique sound, a unique breath that we combine this with. So when we reconnect with our internal music, it brings in the appreciation for the music that we listen to as well because we're beginning to listen to our own bodies as music. And it's an excellent tool when you start to wander in the middle of your day. You can do it anywhere. You can do it for five minutes, just place your hands on your heart, close your eyes, take a breath in through your heart. And when you release that sigh and you're releasing sound through your body as well, that sound actually helps us in dealing with tension and stress that we're experiencing.

Tana Amen: Love that.

Daniel Amen: So many good things for the brain. When we come back, we're going to talk about music as healer. Stay with us. We're here with Barry Goldstein, author of The Secret Language of the Heart, available everywhere, also the creator and producer with me of The Brain Warrior's Way music album. Stay with us.

Barry Goldstein: You know, let's talk about like some-