The last few weeks have felt, in one word, exhausting. Every part of the world, from Louisiana to Baghdad to Nice to Istanbul to all of Syria, is hurting. With each year, the news becomes more violent, more heartbreaking and more frequent. At this point, we have almost become desensitized to the atrocities, but there are still open wounds.
With social media now a powerful tool, those wounds are constantly pricked as new hashtags and posts arise with the onslaught of terror happening around the world. When you are sitting at home, away from all of it, you can sometimes feel guilty for feeling worn-out, almost as though you don’t deserve to feel exhausted. But you are allowed to feel pain and sorrow, and you are not weak for hurting vividly and empathetically with the news. Your sorrow for this world is your greatest strength, and do not let anyone tell you otherwise.
That said, you must take care of yourself. You must take a break from holding all that hurt, and place it down — and sometimes the best place to put down that pain is in music. You owe yourself room to heal. I hope in these songs you find some peace when you face the next morning.
1. “Fake Empire” || The National
“Turn the light out, say goodnight, no thinking for a little while. Let’s not try to figure out everything at once. It’s hard to keep track of you falling through the sky.”
This song is the epitome of escaping this current political climate and into a fake empire where we have “diamond slippers on” and “bluebirds on our shoulders.”
2. “I Forget Where We Were” || Ben Howard
“Hello love, my invincible friend. Hello love, the thistle and the burr. Hello love, for you I have so many words. But I, I forget where we were.”
This song always reminds me of how it feels to hear about another terrible incident on the news, especially with the beginning lines of, “Oh hey, I wasn’t listening, I was watching Syria blinded by the sunshine strip.” and then later, “I was stung by all of us, the blind leading out the bored and as per usual, you were skipping and laughing eyes at the bedroom door. ‘Don’t take it so seriously, no. Only time is ours, the rest we’ll just wait and see!’ Maybe you’re right, babe, maybe.”
3. “The Wolves and the Ravens” || Rogue Valley
“In the morning by the sea, as the fog clears from the sand. I have no money in my hand, I have no home, I have no land. But it doesn’t trouble me, as I lay beside the fire. I am easy to inspire, there is little I require.”
4. “Stay Alive” || José González
“Sometimes there’s things a man cannot know. Gears won’t turn and the leaves won’t grow. There’s no place to run and no gasoline. Engine won’t turn, and the train won’t leave.”
Stunning song to hold closely to your heart when you want to face the next day anew. “We’ll do whatever just to stay alive.”
5. “Life’s for the Living” || Passenger
“Don’t you cry for the lost, smile for the living. Get what you need and give what you’re given. Life’s for the living so live it.”
A kind of commentary on the current state of the world with lines like, “The rain showed the rainbows in the oil stains, and we all had new iPhones but no one had no one to call.”, but a sweet truth at the heart of the song. Beautiful instrumentals.
6. “Holocene” || Bon Iver
“And at once I knew I was not magnificent, High above the highway aisle, (Jagged vacancy, thick with ice), I could see for miles, miles, miles.”
This is one of the most gorgeous songs by Bon Iver, and one of my favorite songs of all time. Yes, it is soothing and healing, but it is also heartbreaking in a productive way. We sometimes must be reminded of the space we actually take up in this world, and how we are just a small part of a huge constellation.
7. “Hero” || Family of the Year
“And we can whisper things, secrets from our American dreams. Baby needs some protection, but I’m a kid like everyone else. So let me go, I don’t wanna be your hero, I don’t wanna be a big man – I just wanna fight like everyone else.”
8. “Atlas Hands” || Benjamin Francis Leftwich
“Money came like rain to your hands while you were waiting for that cold long promise to appear. People in the churches started singing above their hands, they say, ‘My God is a good God and He cares.'”
An ode to the people you love, the places you love, and the feelings you love. A gorgeous song that reminds me of intangible things I cannot hold.
9. “Let’s Be Still” || The Head and The Heart
“The world’s just spinning a little too fast. If things don’t slow down soon we might not last. So just for the moment, let’s be still.”
What this song wants you to remember is what this playlist wants you to remember: “The world’s not forgiving of everyone’s fears. The days turn into months, the months turn into years, so just for the moment: let’s be still.”
10. “About Today” || The National
“Hey, are you awake? Yeah, I’m right here. Well can I ask you about today?”
To describe the beauty of this song almost feels daunting to me because I’m not sure how to capture it and what it means to me. Sometimes I hear it as a love song, and sometimes I hear it as a conversation between two different versions of myself. Right now, I hear it as a song between us and humanity, and the strain that feels heavier than usual. Whichever way you hear it, I hope it brings you some sort of answer.
Because we care for you, we compiled all your new favorite songs in one playlist. Be gentle on yourself.