Songs for sucking the marrow out of life
March 23, 2015 1:12 PM   Subscribe

Wanted: music to remind me to live deliberately, live consciously, and not coast through life on autopilot.

I know this is kind of a vague "build a playlist" request, but I'm looking for songs around the general theme of living deliberately, of living conscious of how you're living, of not just going mindlessly about your daily routine, of examining your actions to see if that's really what you want.

Related themes which might also work would be things like thinking about what's truly important to you, acknowledging the unlimited possibilities open to you, and not being afraid to try new and maybe scary things.

I've only come up with a few examples, and hopefully these will help rather than just muddy the waters even more:

"Live Like You Were Dying" — Tim McGraw
"I Lived" — One Republic
"Unwritten" — Natasha Bedingfield

Any genre is fine.
posted by DevilsAdvocate to Media & Arts (62 answers total) 57 users marked this as a favorite
"Constructive Summer" by The Hold Steady
posted by Ragged Richard at 1:20 PM on March 23, 2015 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Peter Gabriel's Solsbury Hill, maybe?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:32 PM on March 23, 2015 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Open a New Window from the musical Mame (sorry about the Steve Jobs thing, this was the best recording I could find).
posted by JanetLand at 1:41 PM on March 23, 2015

Cabaret from Cabaret
posted by Bibliogeek at 1:46 PM on March 23, 2015 [1 favorite]

Best answer: This is the New Year by a Great Big World.
posted by wwax at 1:54 PM on March 23, 2015

Favorite Food by Tokyo Police Club
posted by miyabo at 2:03 PM on March 23, 2015

This one's really going to date me, but I still get a kick out of Die With Your Boots On by Iron Maiden.
posted by doctord at 2:05 PM on March 23, 2015 [1 favorite]

I would add "Cat's in the Cradle" by Harry Chapin to that. It's basically a warning about what happens when you don't think about what you are doing.
posted by Michele in California at 2:05 PM on March 23, 2015

Best answer: This is Your Life and Dare You to Move by Switchfoot.

Did You by Hoobastank.
posted by kythuen at 2:07 PM on March 23, 2015 [1 favorite]

Also, maybe "Are you experienced?" by Jimi Hendrix.
posted by Michele in California at 2:11 PM on March 23, 2015

Best answer: Ten Things - Paul Baribeau
posted by mymbleth at 2:11 PM on March 23, 2015 [1 favorite]

Reach for the sun by Polyphonic Spree
posted by teamnap at 2:12 PM on March 23, 2015 [1 favorite]

"Hello in There" by John Prine
"Circle Game" - Judy Collins
"For a Dancer" - Jackson Browne

may give satisfaction.
posted by jcworth at 2:14 PM on March 23, 2015

Best answer: The ne plus ultra of this genre is Sensefield's "I Refuse". I play it whenever I need to swagger into a situation in which I'm outmatched and COMPLETELY DOMINATE IT.
posted by julthumbscrew at 2:16 PM on March 23, 2015

We might be dead by tomorrow by SOKO.
posted by sively at 2:16 PM on March 23, 2015 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Lose Yourself by Eminem.
posted by teditrix at 2:28 PM on March 23, 2015 [1 favorite]

New End Original - Lukewarm

The Weakerthans - Aside
posted by Dorothea_in_Rome at 2:35 PM on March 23, 2015 [1 favorite]

Best answer: 90s melodic alt-folk-pop:
The Way - Fastball
Get Out The Map - Indigo Girls

Goth synthpop:
Birthday - Crüxshadows
posted by Pallas Athena at 2:38 PM on March 23, 2015

Maybe try switching up genres:

"Spring and Fall" (composed by Ned Rorem -- art song, which is a poem set for singer and piano)

"Romeo and Juliet" (ballet by Tchaikovsky)

"Green Grow the Rushes" (Irish or Scottish folk, I think, recorded by Altan)
posted by amtho at 2:43 PM on March 23, 2015

New slang - The Shins

- Not the most upbeat, but it is definately about making big choices in life and following your dreams. Plus, it's breathtakingly beautiful
posted by ParanoidAndroid at 2:43 PM on March 23, 2015

Best answer: I came to suggest the songs by Switchfoot. There's also The Remedy by Jason Mraz, and It's My Life by Bon Jovi. I know hundreds more but my mind is blanking me. There's also Do What You Wanna Do which is kind of a dumb song, but it is about paying attention to what you want to do in life, as the title suggests.
posted by Enchanting Grasshopper at 2:46 PM on March 23, 2015

"Sing Your Life" by Morrissey. It's excellent all around.

Make no mistake my friend/your pointless life will end/ But before you go/can you look at the truth?/ You have a lovely singing voice/a lovely singing voice.

Thanks, Morrissey!
posted by but no cigar at 2:54 PM on March 23, 2015

Best answer: Walk Slow.
posted by procrastination at 2:56 PM on March 23, 2015

Best answer: Not my usual cup of tea, but I Hope You Dance seems like it fits your criteria.
I hope you still feel small when you stand beside the ocean
Whenever one door closes I hope one more opens
Promise me that you'll give faith a fighting chance
And when you get the choice to sit it out or dance
I hope you dance
posted by clawsoon at 3:02 PM on March 23, 2015 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Stop And Smell The Roses - too obvious?
posted by tomboko at 3:03 PM on March 23, 2015

Do You Realize?? by The Flaming Lips
posted by pretentious illiterate at 3:14 PM on March 23, 2015 [7 favorites]

Get busy living by Goldfish
posted by Promethea at 3:23 PM on March 23, 2015 [1 favorite]

Best answer: My song for the last two weeks of scary-new things has been Brave by Sara Bareilles.
posted by kimberussell at 3:29 PM on March 23, 2015 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Cat Stevens' But I Might Die Tonight
posted by bricoleur at 3:54 PM on March 23, 2015 [1 favorite]

This ... might be kind of a weird suggestion, but when I read your question I instantly thought of The Clientele's Losing Haringey. It's kind of a song-story about a night walk in a London summer that perfectly captures, for me, realizing that you've lost track of how to live and what to live for, and maybe starting to find that again. I find it always puts me into a mode of really appreciating what life has given me and how much more there is to do.
posted by deathmarch to epistemic closure at 4:27 PM on March 23, 2015

Waterfall by James. It's on my cleaning playlist to remind me that I am not defined by my stuff.
posted by Ruki at 4:40 PM on March 23, 2015 [1 favorite]

Pink Floyd's "Time" is the inverted, warning form of this theme: "...And then one day you find/Ten years have got behind you/No one told you when to run/You missed the starting gun..."
posted by thelonius at 4:44 PM on March 23, 2015 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I'm Not Afraid - Eminem.
posted by Sassyfras at 5:13 PM on March 23, 2015

Civ- Can't Wait One Minute More
posted by Requiax at 5:20 PM on March 23, 2015

Telescope by Cage The Elephant
"..Either it's time well spent or time well wasted…. don't waste it."
posted by lettuce dance at 5:42 PM on March 23, 2015

Cloud Cult - Sleepwalker
posted by drawsablank at 5:56 PM on March 23, 2015

Best answer: "Level Up" by Vienna Teng.
posted by invokeuse at 5:56 PM on March 23, 2015

Right here, right now by Jesus Jones. least the chorus is relevant and is something I sometimes sing to myself to remind myself to be mindful:

Right here, right now
There is no other place that I want to be
Right here, right now
Watching the world wake up from history

posted by Halo in reverse at 6:03 PM on March 23, 2015 [1 favorite]

How Many Times by Ryan Montbleau (lyrics)
posted by still_wears_a_hat at 6:39 PM on March 23, 2015

"Second Chance" by Shinedown (the video is decent too)... Chorus is:
Tell my mother, tell my father
I've done the best I can
To make them realize
This is my life
I hope they understand
I'm not angry, I'm just saying
Sometimes goodbye is a second chance

"In a Big Country" by Big Country... Powerful lines include:
So take that look out of here, it doesn't fit you
Because it's happened doesn't mean you've been discarded
Pull up your head off the floor, come up screaming
Cry out for everything you ever might have wanted
I thought that pain and truth were things that really mattered
But you can't stay here with every single hope you had shattered

"Live Like You Were Dying" is a truly great song. I found Tim McGraw's "Don't Take the Girl" equally powerful in terms of reminding us what is truly important. I can't give you the lyrics or a snippet of it because it is a great storytelling song that builds on prior verses... And it will ruin the impact.
posted by partly squamous and partly rugose at 7:31 PM on March 23, 2015

It may depend on your perspective, but Angels on the Moon by Thriving Ivory is one for me.

and well, no one else has said it yet so - Life Is A Highway!

Right Now (Van Halen)
Drive (Incubus)
Galileo? (Indigo Girls)
posted by treehorn+bunny at 7:43 PM on March 23, 2015

Light And Day here. Seconding that.

You Get What You Give is another good one.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:55 PM on March 23, 2015

These may be oblique, but they work for me:

Hoover Dam (Bob Mould)

Look At The View (The Action)

Lightning Bolt (Jake Bugg)
posted by maggiemaggie at 8:17 PM on March 23, 2015

The General by Dispatch.
The song is about a General who sees the enemy and their mothers in his dream the night before a big battle. So he dismisses the troops saying "this fight is not worth fighting" and that "he would do his own duty but extend it no further." The main line of the song is "Take a shower, shine your shoes / You got no time to lose / You are young men you must be living / Go now you are forgiven."
posted by Deflagro at 8:19 PM on March 23, 2015

EELS - Saturday Morning
This is one of my morning rev-up tunes...not a lot of heavy lyrical content, but fun.
"Nothing's ever gonna happen round here
If we dont make it happen
Sleep away the day if you want to
But I got something that I gotta do"

CAT STEVENS - If You Want To Sing Out Sing Out
"You can do what you want
The opportunity's on
And if you can find a new way
You can do it today"

posted by Soap D. Spencer at 10:21 PM on March 23, 2015

A Better Son/Daughter by Rilo Kiley
posted by antares at 12:20 AM on March 24, 2015

The Time is Now- Moloko
Enjoy Yourself (It's Later than You Think)- Guy Lombardo
Are You Satisfied - Marina and the Diamonds
Some People- Gypsy (the musical)
Brand New Start- Paul Weller
6 Feet Under- No Doubt
Whatever- Oasis
Now is Exactly the Time- Noah and the Whale (pretty much the whole album Heart of Nowhere by Noah and the Whale)
posted by Dwardles at 12:27 AM on March 24, 2015

Go for it by Joe Jackson.

Go for it, go for it, go for it, go for it.
That's the best you can do.
Get out of your shell.
Be anyone's pal.
Do bad or do well, but
Go for it, go for it, go for it, go for it
posted by Too-Ticky at 12:52 AM on March 24, 2015

You're the voice - John Farnham
posted by kudra23 at 1:17 AM on March 24, 2015

Everything I Do Gonh Be Funky -- Lee Dorsey
posted by whoiam at 7:12 AM on March 24, 2015

My Way By Frank Sinatra:

And now the end is near
And so I face the final curtain
My friend I'll say it clear
I'll state my case of which I'm certain

I've lived a life that's full
I traveled each and every highway
And more, much more than this
I did it my way

Regrets I've had a few
But then again too few to mention
I did what I had to do
And saw it through without exemption

I planned each charted course
Each careful step along the byway
And more, much more than this
I did it my way

Yes there were times I'm sure you knew
When I bit off more than I could chew
But through it all when there was doubt
I ate it up and spit it out, I faced it all
And I stood tall and did it my way

I've loved, I've laughed and cried
I've had my fill, my share of losing
And now as tears subside
I find it all so amusing

To think I did all that
And may I say not in a shy way
Oh no, oh no, not me
I did it my way

For what is a man what has he got
If not himself then he has not
To say the things he truly feels
And not the words of one who kneels
The record shows I took the blows
And did it my way

Yes it was my way
posted by Sassyfras at 7:25 AM on March 24, 2015 [1 favorite]

You guessed it -- Frank Stallone!
posted by Enemy of Joy at 12:25 PM on March 24, 2015

Alternatively, you can push it to the limit!
posted by Enemy of Joy at 12:27 PM on March 24, 2015

Garbage - Parade
Frou Frou - Only Got One
Neko Case - The Fox Confessor Brings the Flood (okay, I'm not actually sure what that one's about, but I know it has bits in there about not taking things for granted)
Meg Hutchinson - The Crossing and Coming Up (which I can't find on youtube but is from the same album, The Crossing)

I know I have more, but this is off the top of my head.
posted by Athanassiel at 6:07 PM on March 24, 2015

The Afghan Whigs: Algiers
posted by Little Dawn at 9:12 PM on March 24, 2015 [1 favorite]

WFMT closes each broadcast of The Midnight Special with Kim and Reggie Harris' performance of Phil Ochs' When I'm Gone.
"And I won't breathe the bracing air when I'm gone / And I can't even worry 'bout my cares when I'm gone / Won't be asked to do my share when I'm gone / So I guess I'll have to do it while I'm here"
(I've often thought I'd like to have this song and the Flaming Lips' "Do You Realize" played at my funeral.)
posted by orthicon halo at 6:47 AM on March 25, 2015

Jamiroquai - Time won't wait
posted by yoHighness at 10:55 AM on March 25, 2015

Japandroids - Younger Us

"Remember that night you were already in bed, said 'fuck it' got up to drink with me instead?"

Hint: younger us could mean you last night, any night.
posted by Spiced Out Calvin Coolidge at 5:41 PM on March 25, 2015

Response by poster: Thanks for all the great suggestions! I've been putting together a YouTube playlist of all the recommendations here. It's not complete yet, but I thought I was far enough along that I'd go ahead and post it.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 2:34 PM on March 29, 2015

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