Turn It Up: Movies and Music That Have Inspired Me on My Recovery Journey

I’ve had this idea to create a media guide of various movies and songs that have inspired me on my recovery journey and generally in my life. I think that it’s important to fill our lives with forms of beauty that can touch our hearts, even if that at times means reopening old wounds for greater healing.

I’d like to share some of these movies and songs to get a conversation started around good and inspiring artistic media. With that in mind, please share your own movies, music, and books in the comments below that have helped you in your recovery journey as well!

Movies

I Can Only Imagine

This movie depicts the backstory to one of the most popular Christian songs of the early 2000s. I enjoyed this movie because it depicts a father-son relationship similar to that of my own relationship with my father.

This movie is particularly touching to me because, after watching this movie with my family, my dad apologized to me for not being there for me when I needed him.

The Shack

The Shack is based on the popular book of the same name by William P. Young. It gives a unique perspective to the age-old question: “Why does evil exist?” There is heartache and pain in the film, but the main character reconciles his anger with God through a unique experience of the Trinity.

I actually saw this movie with someone from my home 12-step group. It’s a positive memory from my recovery journey because I was pretty emotional during the movie and I don’t think I would have displayed my emotions if the person wasn’t someone I trusted and who had been vulnerable with me before. In other words, this movie allowed me to experience a healthy form of male intimacy.

October Sky

This movie is about the astronaut, Homer Hickam, and his humble and unlikely origins in a small coal-mining town. I was particularly drawn to this movie because I have family roots in West Virginia, where the movie takes place. The movie also depicts a father-son relationship to which I related.

Music

Music speaks to my soul more than any other art form. God speaks to me in a particularly profound way through music. I have even written a song on the guitar about my recovery journey.

Part of what makes music so meaningful to me is that my dad is just as passionate about music as I am. I wouldn’t say that it’s a shared passion of ours but I have come to understand my dad better through the songs we both enjoy.

Below are songs that either speak deeply to me or that I think are helpful to others’ own recovery journey. 

“Name,” by The Goo Goo Dolls

The Goo Goo Dolls are great for deep, soul-touching songs. I’ve struggled to make real friends in life, and this song reminds me of this deep desire to be known. I actually mentioned this song in my article “Therapy Without the Tea-Shade Glasses.”

“Desperado,” by The Eagles

The Eagles are my favorite band. One of my favorite lines from this song is, “Freedom, oh freedom, that’s just some people talking’/your prison is walkin’ through this world all alone.” I think that is the perfect, poetic explanation for why we need community in our recovery journey.

“One Day at a Time,” by Joe Walsh

Does the name of this song sound familiar? It’s a phrase often said in 12-step groups. Joe Walsh has been a big influence in my life. Most know him for his guitar playing and larger-than-life personality. But he actually is a recovering alcoholic and drug addict. And this song is about his recovery journey. You can also check him out on YouTube to learn about his recovery journey. 

“He Ain’t The Leavin’ Kind,” by Rascal Flatts

This is a great song about God. If you’ve ever felt abandoned by God then this is the song for you. 

“Highway 20 Ride,” by Zac Brown Band

This country song is about a man picking up and dropping off his kids at his ex-spouse’s home. I don’t personally relate to the song but it’s touching and should be relatable to those who have gone through a divorce.

“Every Other Weekend,” by Reba Mcentire and Kenny Chesney

Another great country song, and this time in the form of a duet between Kenny Chesney and Reba Mcentire. This is also a song about divorce. 

“I Miss My Friend,” by Daryl Worley

Based on the lyrics, I presume this song is also about divorce. The lyrics helped me get through my own breakup with a girlfriend.

“Moments,” by Emerson Drive

Of all the songs I’ve listed, this one might be the most insightful and touching. I won’t spoil the details, but it tells the story of unlikely strangers coming across each other and realizing that we all aren’t that different after all. 

“Some People Change,” by Montgomery Gentry

This is a song that you might hear played at a tent-revival (or at least that’s how the music video portrays it). This song makes a direct reference to struggles with alcoholism and racism. Really touching—check it out!

“Measure of a Man,” by Jack Ingram

This is the rare song that speaks directly about the father-son relationship. However, this song isn’t simply about glorifying the father-son relationship but looks at the relevant and hard truth of relationships that fall apart and are reconciled only later. This song has given me hope for my relationship with my dad.  

“Believe,” by Brooks and Dunn

This song is so rich. This is a song that my dad really likes, which is how I learned that my dad actually believes in God. It’s a great song illustrating the role of mentors as well as testimony in helping shape belief. Make sure to have some Kleenexes nearby as you listen!

“Me & God,” by Josh Turner

This is a great song speaking about God in a personal and relatable way. Josh Turner has a deep, rich voice, which adds to the meaning of the song. This is definitely one of the most upbeat songs on the list!

“Both Sides Now,” by Sammy Hagar

This is a great song about the spiritual struggle. My dad really likes this song and I grew up listening to it. It reveals that to really live and find peace you have to struggle and work at redemption.

“Right Now,” by Van Halen

This is a song about being present. One term that a mentor once taught me is to learn to “live life on life’s terms.” That is the core message of this song. And the piano intro is killer!

“Landslide,” by Fleetwood Mac

There are many seasons in our spiritual lives. I really like this song a lot because I believe it reveals that our lives have seasons and that change is inevitable. It’s just a beautiful, soulful song!

“So Far Away,” by Carole King

My parents have a special affinity for Carole King, and this song is from one of her albums. I listened to this song quite often in the car growing up. I like this song because it’s smooth and makes me think of friends and acquaintances that I haven’t seen in a while.

Christian Music

“Reckless Love,” by Cory Asbury

This is my favorite Christian song at the moment. It always makes me cry because this is how I experience God—as passionate. In my opinion, I believe that it’s the “Amazing Grace” of our time.

“Broken Together,” by Casting Crowns

I really like this song. I actually first learned about this song at my home 12-step meeting. Our group hosted a talent show as a unique way of supporting each other. Two men from my home group sang this song together—really powerful!

“Do it Again,” by Elevation Music

Another great song. I have had several healing experiences through the grace of Jesus. Even with these experiences, I have doubted that Jesus has more healing to offer me—that I have fulfilled my quota, so to speak. This song reminds me that those doubts are false. 

“Amazing Grace (My Chains Are Gone),” by Chris Tomlin

This is a modern-day rendition of the popular Christian hymn, “Amazing Grace.” You may have heard this version played at Mass before!

Quarter Joe is a lifelong Catholic and has been in recovery for pornography addiction for nearly three years. He is passionate about the spiritual path of the 12-step model and the power of Jesus in the Eucharist in bringing healing and transformation.