Songs for a brain problem situation
February 19, 2017 3:13 PM   Subscribe

I'd like to build a playlist of songs for getting through clinical depression, anxiety and OCD. I have some good starting points.

Half the back catalog of TMBG is good for this. I'm particularly fond of "Till My Head Falls Off" and "Self Called Nowhere." Lately I've also enjoyed Dar Williams' "Something to Get Through."
I'm not looking for something mopey or darkity-dark. I got plenty of that by nature. I'm also not necessarily looking for cheer, although that is welcome. I'd just like to hear songs that reflect the experience.
I'm open to most styles, although I tend to get turned off by monotonal white-blues-dude voice or overly lilting twee female vocals.
posted by Countess Elena to Society & Culture (24 answers total) 27 users marked this as a favorite
Mountain Goats, Romans 10:9?
posted by eeek at 3:38 PM on February 19, 2017 [2 favorites]

Oh, man, I kind of look forward to seeing what responses you get. While I think more on it, the first song that comes to mind is Less Than Jake's Malt Liquor Tastes Better When You've Got Problems.
posted by General Malaise at 3:38 PM on February 19, 2017

Oh, and their Science of Selling Yourself Short is also right in the bullseye for me.
posted by General Malaise at 3:41 PM on February 19, 2017 [1 favorite]

I don't know if this is too far into mopey, but it does a grand job for me of reflecting the experience, and I've been known to listen to it many times over on days when I just want something to match the way it feels in my head on a grey day - Easy's Getting Harder Every Day by Iris DeMent.
posted by penguin pie at 4:48 PM on February 19, 2017 [2 favorites]

OK so these are all white guys & twee female vocals BUT i also do not like those things you're describing so maybe you will like these too?

Brendan Benson
"Feel like myself"
"Tiny Spark"

A bunch of Bright Eyes songs
"An Attempt to Tip the Scales"
"A line allows progress a circle does not"

Dr. Dog
"Distant Light"
"Long Way Down"
"Heavy Light"

"Crests of waves"

Modest Mouse
"It always rains on a picnic"
"Ocean breathes salty"

Florence & the machine
"Never let me go"
"Third Eye"
posted by bleep at 5:28 PM on February 19, 2017 [3 favorites]

The Mountain Goats, "This Year"

I literally have the lyrics of the chorus framed above my bed, which are very helpful for the many days I can't get out of it.
posted by bibliowench at 5:40 PM on February 19, 2017 [8 favorites]

courtney barnett- avant gardener
radiohead- optimistic
beck- guess i'm doing fine
posted by katieanne at 6:05 PM on February 19, 2017 [1 favorite]

Oo thought of another one. This one may be hit-miss because it starts mopey but picks up, but it's just so perfect I have to add it: Rilo Kiley - A Better Son/Daughter
posted by General Malaise at 6:24 PM on February 19, 2017 [3 favorites]

Florence and the Machine suggestions above remind me of "The Dog Days Are Over."

Nina Simone's "I Got Life."

Chance the Rapper's "Sunday Candy" always makes me smile, though I'm not sure it's exactly what you are looking for.

Also, this article Songs About Depression has some interesting suggestions.
posted by bunderful at 7:25 PM on February 19, 2017 [1 favorite]

here comes the sun - the beatles
try - colbie cailait
closer to fine - indigo girls
will the wolf survive - los lobos
i try - macy gray
learning to fly - pink floyd
lets go crazy - prince
lunatic fringe - red rider
fourfiveseconds - rihanna & kanye
higher ground - stevie wonder
once in a lifetime - talking heads
posted by maloon at 7:30 PM on February 19, 2017 [6 favorites]

I like The Yellow Dress's album Faint Music // Ordinary Light for this, particularly the tracks Tummy in The Blood, Existential Heckle, and Isaac Fitzgerald.
posted by needs more cowbell at 8:16 PM on February 19, 2017

Response by poster: This is great, y'all, I've tried a couple already -- I can't believe I hadn't listened to the Mountain Goats by now. I'll check them all out!
posted by Countess Elena at 8:19 PM on February 19, 2017 [1 favorite]

Crowded House: Love This Life always lifts my heart a bit.
posted by embrangled at 12:09 AM on February 20, 2017

Watsky "Hey Asshole" and Talking to Myself and Sloppy Seconds
posted by slightlybewildered at 12:59 AM on February 20, 2017 [1 favorite]

Apologies if this selection leans a bit cheesier than your own inclination.

Sheryl Crow - I Shall Believe is one I've found really helpful in the past for when I feel despairing but still able to hope for better times.

Neil Finn - Anytime - accepting fear and uncertainty and then letting go of it and just living.

Incubus - Drive- taking control and not letting the anxiety control you:

"Sometimes, I feel the fear of uncertainty stinging clear
And I can't help but ask myself how much I'll let the fear
Take the wheel and steer

It's driven me before
And it seems to have a vague, haunting mass appeal
But lately I am beginning to find
That I should be the one behind the wheel

Whatever tomorrow brings
I'll be there with open arms and open eyes"
posted by *becca* at 3:22 AM on February 20, 2017 [1 favorite]

Some of my favorites came up for me when I read your post... :) all best

Jens Lekman — "The Opposite of Hallelujah"
Jon Hopkins — "The Wider Sun"
The Beta Band — "Dry The Rain"
The New Pornographers — "My Rights Versus Yours"
Wilco — "Impossible Germany"
St. Vincent — "Strange Mercy"
Junip — "Line of Fire"
Sigur Ros — "Andvari"
Coldplay — "In My Place"
posted by a good beginning at 10:04 AM on February 20, 2017 [1 favorite]

Seconding "Dry the Rain."

Cracker, "Hold of Myself"

A good bit of Aesop Rock's recent album "The Impossible Kid" is about his struggles with depression. I like "Shrunk" and "Kirby" (on the album in sequential order) as paired pieces--conventional therapy vs. "ionno, maybe get a kitten?"
posted by dlugoczaj at 11:15 AM on February 20, 2017

I had a hard year and sang Bobby McFerrin's "Don't worry be happy" to myself probably 6 times a day, every day. It was helpful. Also "Birdhouse in your soul" by They Might Be Giants
posted by andreapandrea at 1:25 PM on February 20, 2017

I've had a long streak of that bad luck
But I pray that it's Gone At Last (Paul Simon)
posted by bunderful at 1:32 PM on February 20, 2017

Some of my favorites came up, too, when I was reading about your question. It's hard for me to separate songs that speak to me because they are about depression, or about getting through depression, and songs that speak to me because I heard them and loved them when I was a depressed young adult (as opposed to me now, an adult with depression that's managed pretty well, whose musical life is focused on the songs I play while persuading my toddler to go potty. Anyway.) So anyway, sorry in advance because some of these might be terrible but maybe something will resonate with you.

Mountain Goats - Up the Wolves
The Decemberists - Don't Carry it All
Counting Crows - A Long December (or anything from that album)
Florence + the Machine - Dog Days are Over
LFO - Life is Good
Lou Reed - Sweet Jane
Modest Mouse - Float On
Neil Diamond - Song Sung Blue
Nick Drake - Fly
Polyphonic Spree - Light and Day
Reel Big Fish - You Don't Know
Savage Garden - Affirmation
Simon and Garfunkel - Blues Run the Game
Toad the Wet Sprocket - Before You Were Born / Nothing Is Alone
posted by beandip at 2:34 PM on February 20, 2017 [2 favorites]

Street Fighting Man by The Rolling Stones is one of my go-to songs when I need an extra bit of grit and fight. I think it's such a wonderfully unusual combination of "grrr" and ecstatic, almost spiritual euphoria. And this may be too mopey but I see a couple of Mountain Goats suggestions and so I'll throw in Hast Thou Considered the Tetrapod?. That one got me through a very difficult period of near-constant panic attacks.
posted by treepour at 3:42 PM on February 20, 2017

One kind of thing that I listened to a lot of to get through my last real crashing depressive spell:

Eels, a whole bunch of tracks
Jenny Lewis, much of The Voyager
Phosphorescent, Muchacho
Uncle Tupelo, "No Depression"
Okkervil River, "Red" and "Okkervil River Song"
Trampled by Turtles, "Bloodshot Eyes" and "Wait So Long"
Elephant Revival, "Rogue River"
Jolie Holland, Springtime Can Kill You
Gillian Welch, Time (the revelator)

Another kind of thing:

Sigur Rós, "Glósóli"
The War on Drugs (I couldn't name a single song, all the records sound the same to me, it was good for my brain.)
Explosions in the Sky
early Modest Mouse
posted by brennen at 9:37 PM on February 20, 2017 [1 favorite]

And somewhat randomly:

TV on the Radio, Nine Types of Light
Grant Lee Buffalo, "Happiness"
The Low Anthem, Oh My God Charlie Darwin
The Verve, "On Your Own"
posted by brennen at 9:51 PM on February 20, 2017 [1 favorite]

Kristin Hersh, A Cleaner Light.
posted by Sonny Jim at 5:14 AM on February 21, 2017

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