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What song lyrics have inspired you?
August 10, 2014 10:22 AM   Subscribe

I'm looking for songs which have lyrics that are inspirational, particularly in terms of moving forward, overcoming adversity, or not losing hope. What made you think "things will be ok" when you first heard it, especially if it wasn't something you would normally listen to? Whether it's just a line, verse, chorus, or the whole song, all genres are welcome.

I'm not necessarily looking for "good" music, just lyrics which have resonated with you in some way, even (or maybe especially) if it was despite your normal taste. I'm hoping to compile a list, but not necessarily an actual playlist, so I'm not ruling any kind of music out.

One personal example is ABBA's Chiquitita which has the line "you and I cry / But the sun is still in the sky and shining above you", which comes to mind on sad days. Is there something you find yourself repeating, either from a favourite song, or just something you heard in passing that stayed with you?

Preferably nothing too obvious like "It's a wonderful world" or "I can see clearly now" - more hidden gems please.
posted by billiebee to Media & Arts (78 answers total) 51 users marked this as a favorite
 
Fever Ray- I'm Not Done
posted by droomoord at 10:26 AM on August 10 [2 favorites]


First time I heard A Kiss Is A Terrible Thing To Waste, by Meatloaf, it moved me immensely. (This isn't the whole song, but an abbreviated version he did for VH1. Love, love, love this song. I listen to it at least once a day.
posted by The Almighty Mommy Goddess at 10:27 AM on August 10


This is not my favorite Mountain Goats song, but I find myself humming it a lot in very difficult situations:

Amy aka Spent Gladiator 1:
Do every stupid thing that makes you feel alive
Do every stupid thing to try to drive the dark away
Let people call you crazy for the choices that you make
Climb limits past the limits
Jump in front of trains all day
And stay alive
Just stay alive
posted by ausdemfenster at 10:31 AM on August 10 [4 favorites]


I have always found "Climb Every Mountain" from the Sound of Music to be very moving and inspiring.
posted by Hermione Granger at 10:31 AM on August 10 [2 favorites]


Emeli Sande - Next to Me struck me as an amazing and positive song I would have totally missed due to genre/familiarity with the artist when I first heard the acoustic version on Spotify.
posted by sm1tten at 10:34 AM on August 10


Dare You to Move by Switchfoot.
posted by The Deej at 10:35 AM on August 10 [1 favorite]


"The Mary Ellen Carter" by Stan Rogers:
And you, to whom adversity has dealt the final blow
With smiling bastards lying to you everywhere you go
Turn to, and put out all your strength of arm and heart and brain
And like the Mary Ellen Carter, rise again.

Rise again, rise again—though your heart it be broken
Or life about to end.
No matter what you've lost, be it a home, a love, a friend,
Like the Mary Ellen Carter, rise again.
"Hold On When You Get Love and Let Go When You Give It" by Stars:
Take the weakest thing in you
And then beat the bastards with it
And always hold on when you get love
So you can let go when you give it
"Isn't That What Friends Are For" by Bruce Cockburn:
I've been scraping little shavings off my ration of light
And I've formed it into a ball, and each time I pack a bit more onto it
I make a bowl of my hands and I scoop it from its secret cache
Under a loose board in the floor
And I blow across it and I send it to you
Against those moments when
The darkness blows under your door
"Get Up Jonah" by Bruce Cockburn:
Get up, Johah
It's your time to be born
"Badlands" by Bruce Springsteen:
Talk about a dream, try to make it real
You wake up in the night with a fear so real
You spend your life waiting for a moment that just don't come
Well don't waste your time waiting
"Midnight Radio" from "Hedwig and the Angry Inch":
Know in your soul
Like your blood knows the way
From you heart to your brain
Know that you're whole
posted by Jeanne at 10:35 AM on August 10 [5 favorites]


U2: Beautiful Day, Stuck in a Moment, Walk On.
posted by The Deej at 10:37 AM on August 10 [2 favorites]


The Only Child - Jackson Browne

Let the disappointments pass
Let the laughter fill your glass
Let your illusions last until they shatter
Whatever you may hope to find
Among the thoughts that crowd your mind
There won't be many that ever really matter...
posted by Benny Andajetz at 10:41 AM on August 10 [1 favorite]


Good Day by the Dresden Dolls fits I think. It's basically a big fuck you to someone she left behind and it totally makes me feel smug and awesome when I listen to it and think about a dysfunctional work situation I left behind, even now years later. I'm not a big Dresden Dolls fan but this song is so triumphant and good.
god its been a lovely day! everything is going my way
i took up croquet today and i'm on fire
posted by shelleycat at 10:43 AM on August 10 [1 favorite]


I find Poco's song "Keep on Trying" helpful, when I'm feeling discouraged.
posted by colfax at 10:44 AM on August 10 [1 favorite]


You are loved (Don't give up) - Josh Groban

Heard it in a coffee shop when I felt upset... just instantly uplifted me.

And listening it to now, when I really feel like I need the pick-me-up...
posted by Tsukushi at 10:45 AM on August 10


Silver Lining by First Aid (?) or something like that
REM Everybody Hurts
Joni Mitchell (loads of stuff)
Always where sunscreen
Kate Tempest.. rummage around some is very dark.
posted by tanktop at 10:57 AM on August 10


Gil Scott Heron on 'I'm new here'
Not sure what song (..helpful;) but the line
"I'm the closest thing I have to a voice of reason". FANTASTIC wordsmith
posted by tanktop at 10:58 AM on August 10


"float on" by Modest Mouse.
posted by gursky at 10:59 AM on August 10 [5 favorites]


Kermit the Frog -- Rainbow Connection
posted by raztaj at 11:01 AM on August 10 [5 favorites]


New Radicals - You Get What You Give

Weirdly enough, this isn't even the sort of genre I go for (late 90s one-hit wonders?). But damn, this song came into my life again when it needed to.

But when the night is falling
and you cannot find the light
If you feel your dream is dying
Hold tight
You've got the music in you
Don't let go
You've got the music in you
One dance left
This world is gonna pull through
Don't give up
You've got a reason to live
Can't forget you only get what you give

[...]

Fly high
What's real can't die
You only get what you give
Just don't be afraid to leave
posted by Hawk V at 11:03 AM on August 10 [2 favorites]


my current fave is Edith Piaf's Je Ne Regrette Rien (I regret nothing) -- you don't even really need to know French to "get it".
posted by philip-random at 11:07 AM on August 10


Sound System by Operation Ivy
To resist depair in this world is what it is to be free
posted by pH Indicating Socks at 11:07 AM on August 10


Secret of the Crossroads Devil by Gaia Consort helped me through some really difficult times:

But if you want to see the Northern Lights
You gotta lift up your head and
If you wanna have some kind of life
Decide you're not better off dead and
If you want to read the secret story written in your future
You better start to write it now...

posted by Sublimity at 11:09 AM on August 10


Jimmy Eat World - The Middle

"Just try your best, try everything you can .. it just takes some time, little girl you're in the middle of the ride, everything everything will be just fine."

When my best friend was having a really shit time at a university she hated, I wrote her a card with these lyrics in.

The Weakerthans - Aside

"I am unconsoled, I'm lonely, I am so much better than I used to be" - has really helped me gain perspective on how far I've come in my struggle/journey with anxiety.
posted by Dorothea_in_Rome at 11:15 AM on August 10 [2 favorites]


Eyes of the World Hunter/Garcia

Wake up to find out that you are the eyes of the world
The heart has its beaches, its homeland and thoughts of its own
Wake now, discover that you are the song that the mornin' brings
But the heart has its seasons, its evenins and songs of its own


It talks about pure presence. The term "Eyes of the World" has been linked to the Buddhist practice of tantra.

Later in the song, the line Sometimes we live no particular way but our own"" is the essence of life, just be who you are. To me, sort of like, To thyne own self be true.

As yesterday was the anniversary of Jerry's death, listening to his soulful voice on this song just now was especially wonderful.

Peace.
posted by 724A at 11:20 AM on August 10 [4 favorites]


Maria Mena - all this time.

"You self destructive, little girl
Just pick yourself up, don't blame the world.
...
All this time you have had it in you"
posted by Suffocating Kitty at 11:22 AM on August 10


From personal experience, Patrick Wolf's Accident & Emergency is great for this.

So what happens when you lose everything
You just carry on and with a grin,
Sing!
For all that love life has to bring


Also, Finn Brothers - Nothing Wrong With You

You just keep on walking
When they call you a dirty name
All the mud in this town
All the dirt in this world
None of it sticks on you

posted by kariebookish at 11:22 AM on August 10 [2 favorites]


I'm Still Standing by Elton John has been my go-to inspiration-when-I'm-feeling-sad song for many years.

Stronger by Britney Spears also works for me.
posted by SisterHavana at 11:22 AM on August 10 [2 favorites]


+1 to The Middle (thanks, preview!)

A Better Son/Daughter - Rilo Kiley
And sometimes when you're on, you're really fucking on
And your friends they sing along and they love you
But the lows are so extreme that the good seems fucking cheap
And it teases you for weeks in it's absence
But you'll fight and you'll make it through
You'll fake it if you have to
And you'll show up for work with a smile
You'll be better you'll be smarter
And more grown up and a better daughter
Or son and a real good friend
You'll be awake and you'll be alert
You'll be positive though it hurts
And you'll laugh and embrace all your friends

posted by ApathyGirl at 11:23 AM on August 10 [3 favorites]


Not such a hidden gem, as it's now been in commercials for yogurt, I think it is, but Nina Simone s Ain't Got No / I Got Life gave me sense and courage when I was basically broken and had none of either.
posted by cotton dress sock at 11:23 AM on August 10 [2 favorites]


The Mountain Goats - This Year
I am going to make it through this year if it kills me

Fastball - Better Than It Was
Now I don't claim to know my way
I still run in circles every day,
Runnin' around half blind
Life can be unkind
But it's better than it was
It's better than it was
Oh, I complain very little because
it's better than it was


Also Lady Gaga's Born This Way, but that's not really a hidden gem.
I'm on the right track baby, I was born to survive
posted by une_heure_pleine at 11:29 AM on August 10 [3 favorites]


I think it lays it on a bit thick, but this one fits your category pretty precisely.

The Jayhawks - Smile

On the flip side, one of my favorites -- a song which you would think from the title would be encouraging but which manages to depress me every time..

Neil Young - Don't Let it Bring You Down
posted by Nerd of the North at 11:29 AM on August 10 [2 favorites]


Aesop Rock - No Regrets

"Look, I've never had a dream in my life Because a dream is what you wanna do, but still haven't pursued I knew what I wanted and did it till it was done So I've been the dream that I wanted to be since day one!"
posted by sacrifix at 11:37 AM on August 10


I don't necessarily feel like these lyrics really stand up all that well outside of the context of the song - like, for instance, to read the Ike & Tina Turner song looks a bit saccharine but to hear Tina sing it is a different experience. All of these make me feel good but none of them are songs that "get one pumped," which it seems like maybe are not the songs you're looking for?

Loose Joints - Tell You Today (New Shoes Edit)
Walking down your street
I knew it was my chance, my chance today
New shoes on my feet
I thought that they could dance, dance away
Makes me come alive
I remember the look of sadness on your face
That was before, I want to tell you today
Jimmy Thomas - Where There's a Will
I'm not the kind of guy to give in and give up
My philosophy is determination
I believe in what the old folks say
Where there's a will there's a way
...
You know some people try talk and try to drag you down
I just put a little star in my crown
Propinquity - And I a Fairy Tale Lady (for some reason the Youtube version I found has the wrong artist name - this is definitely by Propinquity)
When I was younger I did dream
Now I am older and I see I still dream
Ike & Tina Turner - Somebody Somewhere Needs You
If someone you'd give your life for walks out on you
And you feel you have no one else to turn to
Open up your heart
And stretch out your arms
Because somebody else somewhere needs you right now
Jackie Shane - In My Tenement (and another great version by Rosey Grier):
Clothes on the washline never look new
Smoky air turns them grey
Sun can't pass through the dirty window
But I kinda like it that way
In my tenement, at the top of the stairs
In my tenement, she'll be waiting there
In my tenement, this poor boy is a king
In my tenement, she gives me everything
A few others that always make the room a little warmer:
John Hartford - Steam Powered Aeroplane
Toytown Gamblers - Surf City
Fastbacks - It's Your Birthday
posted by vathek at 11:38 AM on August 10


Don't Give Up - again, maybe not such a hidden gem but this version (Willie Nelson and Sinead O'Connor) brings another layer of meaning to the song to me. We're not on our own, we're not beaten yet, we have friends.
posted by Martha My Dear Prudence at 11:39 AM on August 10


Lee Ann Womack's "I Hope You Dance" is very life-affirming.
posted by tackypink at 11:40 AM on August 10


REM Everybody Hurts.
posted by dreaming in stereo at 11:43 AM on August 10


Great list so far. Not sure whether folks would consider these hidden gems, but here goes:

Three little birds -- Bob Marley
Always look on the bright side of life -- Monty Python
Not afraid -- Eminem
Walking on sunshine -- Katrina and the Waves
True colors -- Cyndi Lauper
I will survive -- Cake
Cup of Life -- Ricky Martin
posted by learnsome at 11:51 AM on August 10


My all-time #1 therapy song: Closer to Fine - Indigo Girls
Well darkness has a hunger that's insatiable
And lightness has a call that's hard to hear
I wrap my fear around me like a blanket
I sailed my ship of safety till I sank it, I'm crawling on your shore.

I went to the doctor, I went to the mountains
I looked to the children, I drank from the fountain
There's more than one answer to these questions
pointing me in crooked line
The less I seek my source for some definitive
The closer I am to fine.

posted by ApathyGirl at 11:55 AM on August 10 [7 favorites]


No Fear, by Terri Clark

especially:

"I want peace, love, and understanding
A stogie and an ice-cold beer
Don't wanna live afraid of dying
"
posted by SuperSquirrel at 11:59 AM on August 10


REM - ÜBerlin

I will make it through the day
And then the day becomes the night
I will make it through the night

posted by Night_owl at 12:07 PM on August 10


Little Giant by Roo Paynes

"Who said it's easy, to be loved,
When you look over your shoulder and only see the wasteland?
Just got to carry what you can,
Have the heart of a giant, but know you're a man"
posted by Middlemarch at 12:08 PM on August 10


Green Day, Waiting. The whole song, but especially the line "I'm destined for anything at all" gives me that I-can-take-whatever-the-world-throws-at-me feeling.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 12:09 PM on August 10 [1 favorite]


Seconding Jimmy Eat World - The Middle.
posted by ainsley at 12:15 PM on August 10


VNV Nation - Illusion
VNV Nation - Solitary
posted by MinusCelsius at 12:25 PM on August 10 [1 favorite]


I am making a mix CD on more or less this theme right now, and will be watching this thread for suggestions!

Defiance Ohio--Bikes and Bridges

"sometimes broken things make the best building supplies. and we'll keep on building. hearts aren't made of glass, they're made of muscle and blood and something else. and they don't so much as break as bend and tear. we have what it takes to keep it together; and move on

RVIVR--Resilient Bastard

"I'm not hurt, I'm a resilient bastard
I'm okay, I'll wait another day
I'm not scared, I'm just unaware
or I just don't care"
posted by ActionPopulated at 12:30 PM on August 10 [1 favorite]


Bob Marley, Three Little Birds

Don't worry, 'bout a thing, 'cause every little thing, gonna be all right.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 12:30 PM on August 10


Honestly, The Remedy by Jason Mraz.
posted by Enchanting Grasshopper at 12:36 PM on August 10


Nina Simone, "Trouble in Mind" (live)
Trouble in mind, I'm blue
but I won't be blue always
Bikini Kill, "Feels Blind"
How does that feel?
It feels blind
How does that feel?
Well it feels fucking blind
the Lucius cover of Bob Dylan's "When The Night Comes Falling From the Sky" (sorry, no video, but it's completely different from the original, so worth finding)
I don’t want to be a fool starving for affection
I don’t want to drown in someone else’s wine
Bob Dylan, "Day of the Locusts" (also no video)
And the locusts sang, off in the distance
Yeah the locusts sang, and they were singing for me
Judy Collins, "Song for Judith (Open the Door)"
Now I know we all have stormy weather
The sun shines through when we're together
Kanye West, "Amazing"
Never gave in, never gave up
I'm the only thing I'm afraid of
Bruce Springsteen, "Tougher Than the Rest"
Well it ain't no secret
I've been around a time or two
Well I don't know baby maybe you've been around too
Well there's another dance
All you gotta do is say yes
posted by sallybrown at 12:38 PM on August 10


The Kinks - Don't Forget to Dance
posted by misseva at 12:59 PM on August 10


I Will Survive, Gloria Gaynor
Given to Fly, Pearl Jam
Imagine, John Lennon
posted by kinetic at 1:12 PM on August 10


This one was written by a dear friend of mine, and I've had it tattooed on my forearm for 6 or 7 years, so it's not exactly out of my musical wheelhouse, but it is definitely my favorite standalone song lyric of all time, and I still get a little shiver of renewed psychological fortitude every time I see it:

"A tragedy requires a little greatness to begin with."

(Source material.)
posted by divined by radio at 1:24 PM on August 10


Not sure why but this one always comforts me when I need it, and lifts my spirits.

I Got a Name (Jim Croce)

Like the north wind whistling down the sky
I've got a song, I've got a song
Like the whippoorwill and the baby's cry
I've got a song, I've got a song
And I'll carry it with me and I'll sing it loud
If it gets me nowhere, I'll go there proud

Moving me down the highway
Rolling me down the highway
Moving ahead so life won't pass me by

And I'm gonna go there free

Like the fool I am and I'll always be
I've got a dream, I've got a dream
They can change their minds but they can't change me
I've got a dream, I've got a dream
Well, I know I can share it if you want me to
If you're going my way, I'll go with you

posted by Too-Ticky at 1:24 PM on August 10 [1 favorite]


Vienna by Billy Joel

Slow down, you crazy child
Take the phone off the hook and disappear for a while
It's alright, you can afford to lose a day or two
When will you realize... Vienna waits for you?
posted by apartment dweller at 1:42 PM on August 10 [1 favorite]


My Silver Lining by First Aid Kit, and though it isn't necessarily "everything will be okay," their Stay Gold also makes me feel better.
Danger and Dread by Brown Bird ("though the world is full of fearsome beasts that bark and bite / we were born to put these creatures through a hell of a fight").
Neko Case's At Last.
And there aren't specific lyrics, but Of Monsters And Men have such a happy sound.
posted by you're a kitty! at 1:49 PM on August 10


Camper Van Beethoven, Life is Grand:

And life is grand, and I will say this at the risk of falling from favor with those of you who have appointed yourselves to expect us to say something darker

And love is real, and though I realize this is not a deep observation to those of you who find it necessary to conceal love, or obscure it, as is the fashion


It's a good reminder that art can be earnest and kind.
posted by Karlos the Jackal at 2:13 PM on August 10 [1 favorite]


The Weepies, Not Your Year

Breathe through it, write a list of desires
Make a toast, make a wish, slash some tires
Paint a heart repeating, beating "don't give up, don't give up, don't give up"

posted by nicebookrack at 2:45 PM on August 10 [4 favorites]


High Hopes


Next time your found
With your chin on the ground
There a lot to be learned
So look around

Just what makes that little old ant
Think he'll move that rubber tree plant
Anyone knows an ant, can't
Move a rubber tree plant

But he's got high hopes
He's got high hopes
He's got high apple pie
In the sky hopes

So any time your gettin' low
'Stead of lettin' go
Just remember that ant
Oops, there goes another rubber tree plant
Oops, there goes another rubber tree plant
Oops, there goes another rubber tree plant

When troubles call
And your back's to the wall
There a lot to be learned
That wall could fall

Once there was a silly old ram
Thought he'd punch a hole in a dam
No one could make that ram, scram
He kept buttin' that dam

'Cause he had high hopes
He had high hopes
He had high apple pie
In the sky hopes

So any time your feelin' bad
'Stead of feelin' sad
Just remember that ram
Oops, there goes a billion kilowatt dam
Oops, there goes a billion kilowatt dam
Oops, there goes a billion kilowatt dam

All problems just a toy balloon
They'll be bursted soon
They're just bound to go pop
Oops, there goes another problem kerplop
Oops, there goes another problem kerplop
Oops, there goes another problem kerplop, kerplop
posted by SemiSalt at 2:45 PM on August 10


*pulls up chair and sits down*

I made an entire playlist of this kind of thing when I was trying to bounce back from some heavy suck a few years ago. Among the highlights, which weren't already mentioned:

Ordinary Day, Great Big Sea

"In this beautiful life, there's always some sorrow
But it's a double-edged knife, and there's always tomorrow
It's up to you now if you sink or swim,
Just keep the faith that your ship will come in, it's not so bad,
And I say way-hey-hay it's just an ordinary day
And it's all your state of mind
At the end of the day you've just got to say it's alright...."

Sail On Sailor, The Beach Boys

"Seldom stumble, never crumble
Try to tumble, life's a rumble
Feel the stinging I've been given
Never ending, unrelenting
Heartbreak searing, always fearing
Never caring, persevering
Sail on, sail on, sailor"

I Want To Celebrate, Rare Earth

"I put my faith in the people
But the people let me down
So I turned the other way
And I carry on, anyhow
That's why I'm telling you

I just want to celebrate
Another day of living,
I just want to celebrate another day of life

Had my hand on the dollar bill
And the dollar bill blew away
But the sun is shining down on me
And it's here to stay
That's why I'm telling you

I just want to celebrate another day of living
I just want to celebrate another day of life"

Beautiful Day U2

"What you don't have you don't need it now
What you don't know you can feel somehow"

The Stairs, INXS

"There are reasons here to give your life
And follow in your way
The passion lives to keep your faith
Though all are different, all are great

Climbing as we fall
We dare to hold on to our fate
And steal away our destiny
To catch ourselves
With quiet grace

Storey to storey
Building to building
Street to street
We pass each other on the stairs"

(This one reminds me that not only am I trying to hang on and overcome great obstacles, so is everyone around me.)

Fisherman's Blues, The Waterboys

"And I know I will be loosened
From bonds that hold me fast
That the chains all hung around me
Will fall away at last
And on that fine and fateful day
I will take me in my hand
I will ride on the train
I will be the fisherman
With light in my head
You in my arms..."
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 3:56 PM on August 10 [1 favorite]


Revolution Year Zero, Poster Children

Stuck in a rut, time to make a wrong turn
Calling in sick is the only known cure
Scraping away all these layers of dirt
Going through hell to find heaven on earth

Looking for clues at the scene of the crime
They could be windmills or they could be giants
We canvas the streets and we paint the town red
Alive with the fact that we're back from the dead

Where we're going no one knows
Against the grain or out of control
Don't look back, erase the past
Forget the future, it's fading fast

Let's get lost in the city tonight
Drop everything and go for a ride
All we need is here outside
The revolution of everyday life
posted by soundguy99 at 4:34 PM on August 10


Johnny Nash - I Can See Clearly Now and much earlier, Ambrose' Orchestra with Elsie Carlisle singing
Somewhere the sun is shining
So honey don't you cry
We'll find that silver lining
The Clouds Will Soon Roll By
posted by Rash at 5:32 PM on August 10


Ah, I forgot one.

Beautiful World - Colin Hay

my, my, my it's a beautiful world
i like driving in my car
roll the top down, sometimes i travel quite far
travel to the ocean and stare up at the stars
i like driving in my car

all around is anger
automatic guns
death in large numbers
and no respect for women or our little ones
i tried talking to Jesus
but he just put me on hold
said he'd been swamped by calls this week
and he could not shake his cold

and still this emptiness persists
perhaps this is as good as it gets
when you've given up the drink
and those nasty cigarettes
now i leave the party early, at least with no regrets
i watch the sun as it comes up, i watch it as it sets
yeah, this is as good as it gets

posted by ApathyGirl at 5:36 PM on August 10 [3 favorites]


Me too - So What from Cabaret
The sun will rise and the moon will set
And you learn how to settle for what you get
It'll all go on if we're here or not so
Who cares, so what!
posted by Rash at 5:40 PM on August 10


Fleet Foxes - "Helplessness Blues"

Nina Simone - "I Shall Be Released"

(I'm sorry, I'm on mobile and linking is hard.)
posted by dogheart at 6:10 PM on August 10


A couple of more recent songs I love -

Last Hope - Paramore

It's just a spark
But it's enough to keep me going
And when it's dark out, no one's around
It keeps glowing

Silver Lining - Kacey Musgraves

If you're ever gonna find a silver lining
It's gotta be a cloudy day
And if you wanna fill your bottle up with lightning
You're gonna have to stand in the rain

If you're ever gonna find a four leaf clover
You gotta get a little dirt on your hands
And if you wanna find a head that fits your shoulder
You're gonna have to go to the dance
posted by makeamove at 6:21 PM on August 10 [1 favorite]


Bishop Allen - Things Are What You Make of Them

I was spending my days with my demons
They had taken up inside of my heart
They were trying to keep me entertained
They were tearing me apart

Well my memory she was packing yeah
And I knew that she would never come back
She handed me a letter and then
Then she vanished in the black

And the letter said
"Things are what you make of them
Things are what you make of them, baby
You know what I mean
Yeah, you know what I mean"


From the same album, also try Ghosts Are Good Company.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 8:30 PM on August 10 [1 favorite]


"The Dog Days Are Over" - Florence and The Machine

"Your Ex-Lover is Dead" - Stars
Live through this/
And you won't look back

"Bad" - U2
posted by dry white toast at 10:05 PM on August 10 [1 favorite]


I have so many of these songs I could probably make a MeFi Swapmix out of them. I tend to feel uplifted by songs that aren't just "hey everything is happy" or "it gets better, you just have to try!" but ones that really acknowledge how hard it can be. The other kind just makes me feel annoyed and patronised, and as though it's somehow my fault for feeling bad. I take a lot of solace in knowing that other people have also experienced adversity and that I'm not alone, even when it feels like it. It makes it easier to keep trying. Anyway, here's a few.

Something For Kate (Melbourne band) do a good line in these kinds of songs generally. As an example, Jerry Stand Up.
Jerry stand up
Pull back the curtains and let some light in
Quit your job
Because you hate it and it's wasting you.
Once upon a time you were running
Singing to the ground every morning
Once upon a time you were...
Jerry stand up
Am I the only one who's noticed that you've been missing?
Remember yourself man;
Remember that you have chance and possibility.


Anna Nalick - Breathe (2AM)
Cause you can't jump the track, we're like cars on a cable
And life's like an hourglass, glued to the table
No one can find the rewind button, girl.
So cradle your head in your hands
And breathe... just breathe,
Oh breathe, just breathe


Sia - Breathe Me
Ouch I have lost myself again
Lost myself and I am nowhere to be found,
Yeah I think that I might break
I've lost myself again and I feel unsafe
Be my friend
Hold me, wrap me up
Unfold me
I am small and needy
Warm me up
And breathe me


Nine Inch Nails - The Fragile
fragile
she doesn't see her beauty
she tries to get away
sometimes
it's just that nothing seems worth saving
I can't watch her slip away
I won't let you fall apart


Augie March - Pennywhistle (the music is essential for this one, and the video cracks me up)
Just an ordinary day, I knew that autumn was on its way,
I could see by the gilt of the clouds, the burnish on the bay,
A ring of effusia settled on the city like a vision of the future
Before the scales fell away,
A vision of the future looking more than just okay,
A good feeling
Yes, just a good feeling
And it only happens now and then -
Out of the mouth of a black dog,
Out of the terrors of 3 am,
Out of the dark and whispering fen,
I was blind then I could see, now I'm blind again.


Clare Bowditch - The Thing About Grief (again the music is half of it)
The thing about grief is
It gets kind of boring for the
People who don't yet know.
Your friends - some they will wander off and
Most will wish you'd just move on sister.
But black is the colour 'cause it
Doesn't seem to have an end
I've heard it changes and
You'll make new friends.


Crowded House - Four Seasons In One Day
Smiling as the shit comes down
You can tell a man from what he has to say
Everything gets turned around
And I will risk my neck again, again
...
Doesn't pay to make predictions
Sleeping on an unmade bed
Finding out wherever there is comfort there is pain
Only one step away
Like four seasons in one day


Gillian Welch - Hard Times
There was a camp town man, used to plow and sing
And he loved that mule and the mule loved him
When the day got long as it does about now
I'd hear him singing to his muley-cow
Calling, "Come on my sweet old girl, and I'd bet the whole damn world
That we're gonna make it yet to the end of the row"
Singing "hard times ain't gonna rule my mind
Hard times ain't gonna rule my mind, Bessie
Hard times ain't gonna rule my mind no more"

posted by Athanassiel at 10:08 PM on August 10 [1 favorite]


Oh, and in the spirit of songs that aren't my usual taste that kind of reached out and grabbed me anyway, Armenia's Eurovision entry this year, Not Alone. I am slightly ashamed, but it worked. Dead obvious lyrics too.
posted by Athanassiel at 10:25 PM on August 10


How could I forget this one? I've actually used it to get over a breakup.

It's a Wonderful Life (sung here by the Dutch Mathilde Santing)

Here I go out to sea again
The sunshine fills my hair
And dreams hang in the air
Gulls in the sky and in my blue eyes
You know it feels unfair
There's magic everywhere

Look at me standing
Here on my own again
Up straight in the sunshine

No need to run and hide
It's a wonderful, wonderful life
No need to lie and cry
It's a wonderful, wonderful life
posted by Too-Ticky at 11:36 PM on August 10 [1 favorite]


"Tell 'Em" by Sleigh Bells.
I can't make out all the lyrics, but the chorus's "You can do your best today" is so happymaking for me that I use this song as my alarm clock.
posted by Mister Moofoo at 2:19 AM on August 11


Don't Ask the Reason Why, sung by Restless Heart.

But right now you're feeling
Lost and lonely
Crazy to even try
Just listen to what
You're heart keeps saying
And don't ask the reason why.
posted by bryon at 3:22 AM on August 11


Sometimes I need a little musical "tough love" to get me back on the path: And if in need of a more soothing tone:
posted by EKStickland at 7:01 AM on August 11


Coming to this a little late, but Lateralus, by Tool, is the first thing that comes to mind:

Feed my will to feel this moment,
urging me to cross the line.
Reaching out to embrace the random.
Reaching out to embrace whatever may come.

I embrace my desire to feel the rhythm,
to feel connected enough to step aside and
weep like a widow,
to feel inspired,
to fathom the power,
to witness the beauty,
to bathe in the fountain,
to swing on the spiral,
to swing on the spiral of our divinity
and still be a human.

With my feet upon the ground,
I lose myself between the sounds
and open wide to suck it in.
I feel it move across my skin.
I'm reaching up and reaching out.
I'm reaching for the random or
whatever will bewilder me,
whatever will bewilder me.

And following our will and whim,
we may just go where no one's been.
We'll ride the spiral to the end
and may just go where no one's been.
Spiral out.
Keep going.
posted by jammer at 7:31 AM on August 11


My favourite song along these lines is "Unfold" by Jason Mraz.

My hands are high, and I’m holding on
I’m holding out
And I figure that I just might make it
And I’m waking empty
But seldom sleeping
And the words repeat
Breathing histories into stories untold
And I unfold.

I love the idea of unfolding, opening up, blossoming.

Another one I love is "Sober" by Kelly Clarkson, especially the lines:

And I don't know
I could crash and burn but maybe
At the end of this road I might catch a glimpse of me
posted by yawper at 7:37 AM on August 11


I'm back!

There's also This Too Shall Pass from OK Go -

"You know you can't keep lettin' it get you down
And you can't keep draggin' that dead weight around.
If there ain't all that much to lug around,
Better run like hell when you hit the ground."

Along with the obvious "let it go, this too shall pass" that they say over and over.

When I was younger, I took a lot from Alanis Morrisette's Hand In My Pocket -

"And what it all boils down to
Is that no one's really got it figured out just yet".
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:13 AM on August 11 [1 favorite]


I've had Cat Power's version of I Found A Reason running through my head a lot lately, and it's this line that pops up:

" . . . what comes is better than what came before . . . "

Something about her voice, the radical reinterpretation of the lyrics and melody from the original, plus the hope implicit in the title.

Also: PIL's Rise, which has a nice Irish blessing in the chorus!
Cheers BB!
posted by gorbichov at 11:55 AM on August 11 [1 favorite]


Oooh, ooh! Wilco's Nothing'severgonnastandinmyway(Again).
posted by jabes at 3:49 PM on August 11 [1 favorite]


"Enjoy Yourself" by Todd Snider (it's a cover - not sure who the original artist is.)

"Whatever It Is" by Ben Lee
posted by backwards guitar at 4:21 AM on August 12


The Ballad of El Goodo by Big Star.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 3:32 PM on August 12


The entirety of Vienna Teng's "Level Up". Also I have a "Perseverance!" playlist:

"Tubthumping" (They Might Be Giants version)
"Give Paris One More Chance" by Jonathan Richman
"Be Born" by Tally Hall
"The Sadder but Wiser Girl" from The Music Man soundtrack
"This Too Shall Pass" by OK Go
"Smells Like Teen Spirit" by Nirvana
"Get Around" by Leonard Richardson
"Better Times are Coming" by Kate and Anna McGarrigle, from "Songs of the Civil War"
"You've Got To Do It" (lyrics and tune by Mr. Fred Rogers, interpretation by Holly Yarbrough in Mr. Rogers Swings!). Some lyrics I have listened to over and over:
If you want to ride a bicycle and ride it straight and tall
You can't just sit and look at it, 'cause it won't move at all
It's you who has to try it
And it's you who has to fall
sometimes
If you want to ride a bicycle and ride it straight and tall
posted by brainwane at 9:37 AM on August 15


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