I think it’s fair to say we’re all struggling right now. The luckiest of us are stuck at home in anxiety and fear. My days go by in repetitive bouts of hand-washing, news updates and tossing kitchen knives into the drywall.
Long story short, I’m distressed, you’re distressed, we’re all very distressed, and there’s not that much that can be done about it, especially since the best way a non-medical professional can help right now is to stay inside and literally do nothing. But one thing I’ve found that helps me through these times is to keep up a steady stream of tunes.
Here’s the genre-spanning list of tunes I’ve been playing to make the day a little better:
1. “Don’t Be So Serious” by Low Roar
A mood-setting song if I’ve ever heard one. This is one for the morning. Over a quiet electronic pulse, the lyrics set the tone for the day ahead, “Wake. Heavy pulse. Bloody eyes. Sweaty clothes. New routine that I’ve learned to understand and know. … Shut my eyes. I’m not here. There must be some mistake. Don’t be so serious.”
2. “Bad Company” by Bad Company
“That’s why they call me bad company … bad company till the day I die,” I growl with a dramatic flick of the air guitar, before sanitizing my hands and cracking open my copy of Jane Eyre and a packet of earl gray for my afternoon teatime.
3. “Fly” by Bloodwitch
This band was created exclusively for Netflix’s new show “I Am Not Okay With This.” But, much like The Monkees, this artificial genesis does not preclude their tunes from bangerhood. Fly is the type of grungy rock that you feel somewhere deep in your flannel-covered chest.
4. “Home Again” by Michael Kiwanuka
A calming and reassuring song by an immensely talented British singer-songwriter that communicates the much-appreciated sentiment, “One day I know I’ll feel home again.” Yeah, that lyric hits home a little different now that we’re all at home but do not feel at home at all.
5. “VICTIM” by WIN WIN
I recently decided that I would marathon the films of Steven Soderbergh, which I would highly recommend, which led to the following unexpected scenario: me, sitting alone in my attic in the pitch dark watching Magic Mike. … Anyways, this song pops up near the end of that movie, and its druggy intensity is just what you need to motivate yourself to hit the treadmill or do some pushups while you’re cooped up.
6. “Good News” by Mac Miller
A song of Mac Miller’s posthumous album that embodies the best of his later-career phase – a beautiful melody, heartfelt vocals, a calming atmospheric beat. And fitting lyrics to help these long afternoons pass: “I know maybe I’m too late. I could make it there some other time. Then I’ll finally discover that it ain’t that bad. … At least it don’t gotta be no more.”
7. “Take Me to the Pilot” by Elton John
Pick up the pace a little with this joyous Elton John tune. The phenomenal Showtime limited series “Escape at Dannemora” used this song in a scene in which one of the prisoners takes a sledgehammer to an underground brick wall in his bid for freedom. That’s the kind of energy a lot of us need right now.
8. “BOY BYE” by BROCKHAMPTON
If you haven’t listened to BROCKHAMPTON, the world’s greatest boy band, you should. They released three albums in 2017, the Saturation trilogy, all of which were absolute jamoramees. This cut from their latest album Ginger is a real fun time, with the members trading off verses and bridges over a bouncy west-coast beat.
9. “In My View” by Young Fathers
Young Fathers are a trio of Scottish musicians who’ve released three albums that blend hip-hop, pop, electronic music, and a bunch more into one. This song off their latest album is a melodic pop-type song that sounds beautiful, just maybe don’t listen to closely to the not-exactly-cheery chorus lyrics.
10. “True Love Will Find You In The End” by Daniel Johnston
You should immediately watch The Devil and Daniel Johnston if you haven’t seen it. It’s one of the best music documentaries ever, following the strange and turbulent life of the singer/songwriter/cartoonist, who rose to cult fame recording lo-fi cassettes of his earnest and troubled music and handing them out to people. This is his most popular song and might just be the gateway into the full Daniel Johnston experience that many of us have fallen through. Johnston, who suffered greatly from mental health issues throughout his life, passed away in September of last year.
11. “Curlews” by Grasscut
This piano and strings ballad is sad and relaxing and was most recently used in the final scene of The New Pope on HBO. I think it inspires hopeful feelings for the future without running from the sadness of the here and now. But, hey, maybe you’ll think it sucks. Opinions are weird.
12. “Come and See” by Lean Year
Foul language alert. Despite the fact that this song is a quiet, gentle and melodic folk-pop type of song, the chorus is “Fudge off the old world,” except they don’t say fudge. If harmonically crooned profanity bothers you, then this might not be the song for you, but for me, it’s amazing.