Building a playlist for a tough time
September 17, 2018 12:05 AM   Subscribe

So the next 49 days are going to be really intense for me, and I need music that will keep my spirits up, and that I also don't have a lot of previous associations with. Please hope me!

I'm a campaign worker, and Election Day is very close indeed. I've also been dealing with something of an ongoing health problem that is extremely draining. I drive a lot for work, I listen to music when I drive, and I'm running out of music to listen to. I want a bit of a fresh start, musically, while I'm trying to rekindle the fire that got me into this in the first place. So what are your go-to inspirational songs, or even albums? What's the music you listen to when you need to get up and kick ass?

As a bit of an example, I've got "My Shot" from the Hamilton soundtrack on there, for obvious reasons, "Helplessness Blues" by Fleet Foxes ('a functioning cog in some great machinery/serving something beyond me') "Fight Song" by Rachel Platten (the offical song of Hillary's campaign), about half of the Joshua Tree by U2, but I'm obviously lacking and I'm tired of listening to the same stuff over and over again.

(I hope this isn't chatfilter, music is really quite important to me, and I'm hoping for some good answers here. Thanks in advance!)
posted by dogheart to Media & Arts (26 answers total) 32 users marked this as a favorite
posted by runincircles at 12:11 AM on September 17, 2018 [6 favorites]

Argent - Hold your head up
Pat Benatar All fired up
Mott the Hoople All the young dudes
Bob Seger Old time rock and roll
all work for me. Yeah, and lots of Springsteen. It's a cover, but this is magic.
posted by Calvin and the Duplicators at 12:25 AM on September 17, 2018 [3 favorites]

Cloud busting Kate bush
posted by Nilehorse at 12:25 AM on September 17, 2018 [3 favorites]

A bit more cynical-hope, but Mountain Goats' This Year immediately comes to mind: I will make it through this year if it kills me

Warrior - Foxes | Midnight Moon - Oh Wonder (You with the wide eyes, don't lose your courage) | Walk the Moon covering Burning Down the House | Kishi Bashi's cover of This Must be the Place always makes me happy too | Delilah - Florence & The Machine | from another MeFite's rec, Over My Skin - Tiffany Young | White Lights - Rural Alberta Advantage

sometimes I just need some shut up and dance
posted by ahundredjarsofsky at 12:39 AM on September 17, 2018 [5 favorites]

Jimmy Eat World - The Middle
Zootopia soundtrack - Try Everything
American Authors - Best Day Of My Life
OK Go - Do What You Want

also, when I am out running or biking and Foo Fighters "Everlong" comes on the playlist I will immediately accelerate with a boost of energy and can't stop until the song is over.
posted by alchemist at 12:58 AM on September 17, 2018 [2 favorites]

Bruce Springsteen - We Take Care of Our Own -- was a song for the Obama 2012 campaign!
Mike Jones - Don't Work U Don't Eat (you don't grind, you don't shine / I'm 90% grind, 10% sleep...)
LunchMoney Lewis - Bills
Arcade Fire - (Antichrist Television Blues)

I also listen to a lot of Rage Against the Machine when I'm motivating myself for something worthwhile.

I have a terrible weakness for women in pop when I need motivation, so...
Brave - Sara Bareilles (spelling?)
Katy Perry - Roar
Christina Aguilera - Fighter
Kelly Clarkson - Stronger
Britney Spears - Stronger
posted by quadrilaterals at 12:59 AM on September 17, 2018 [2 favorites]

Went through a phase of listening to the Heartless Bastards a lot years ago. Found them again recently. Runnin' does this for me or Onions. Driving music.
posted by Gotanda at 1:33 AM on September 17, 2018 [1 favorite]

Democracy and Anthem, by Leonard Cohen.

Maybe First We Take Manhattan, depending on your relationship with that song.

Ring The Bells by James. Maybe Sit Down as well.

Keep The Car Running by Arcade Fire. Maybe Wake Up too.

Worker's Song by Dropkick Murphy's. And their version of Which Side Are You On.

I'm sure this will result in some eye rolling, but Sigh No More and some other tracks from the first Mumford and Sons album.
posted by Candleman at 2:17 AM on September 17, 2018 [1 favorite]

Might not be your taste- but you remember that song that was everywhere about mid-late 2016- Shut up and Dance by Walk the Moon? I loved it and bought the album. Two songs particularly that have motivational lyrics:

Down in the Dumps (
No, I won't let you bring me back
Bring me back down in the dumps
You can throw all the fits and the tantrums you want
But I won't let you bring, bring me back down

Work this body

It ain't no matter of "if", honey, it's just a matter of "when"
Ah, someday when it's my face in the newspaper again
All the rag magazines, black limousines, they'll be getting in line
Yeah, it's just a matter of time, honey, it's just a matter of time
And I will work this body, I will burn this fat (flame?)
Oh, in the dead of night, and in the pouring rain
Yeah, I'm a workaholic and I swear, I swear
Yeah, one day I will beat you fair and square

Both particularly up-beat and pop-y.

Also "We are the Kids" (that you never can kill) and Different Colours (Different colors... We carry each other).

Any way I've found it motivational and upbeat. Could be that "Shut up and Dance" was the song that my now husband said to me "every time I hear this song I think of you" so I'm massively biased.
posted by freethefeet at 2:33 AM on September 17, 2018 [2 favorites]

My current playlist for this kind of thing includes the following:

Beyonce - Freedom
Adam Lambert - Master Plan
Dua Lipa - New Rules
Fiona Apple - Extraordinary Machine
Fiona Apple - Better Version of Me
The Weakerthans - A New Name for Everything
(Sorry, but) the Glee Cast covers of Hate on Me and Born This Way
Joan Jett - Fake Friends
Um, from the musical version of Legally Blonde - Chip on My Shoulder
Leonard Cohen - Democracy, Everybody Knows
Liz Phair - Go West Young Man
Nellie McKay - It’s a Pose, Respectable
posted by Aravis76 at 2:44 AM on September 17, 2018 [2 favorites]

Queen, Don't Stop Me Now. Freddie makes everything better.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 2:59 AM on September 17, 2018 [4 favorites]

These are great, keep 'em coming! (I would also mention something of a preference for country-ish sounds, if you have them. I'm in a lot of cornfields out here. Billy Bragg and Wilco's cover of "All You Fascists" automatically goes on every election playlist I have, if that gives you an idea.)
posted by dogheart at 3:10 AM on September 17, 2018 [1 favorite]

From this summer's album Frank Turner called "Be More Kind," there's three especially good tracks for picking me up and getting me going this year:
"Don't Worry" (a little slow, good for starting)
"Little Changes" (the tempo builds)
"Brave Face" (save it for last)

Even my teenage boys like this album, and I catch them singing the songs to themselves around the house.
posted by wenestvedt at 6:04 AM on September 17, 2018

George Michael - Freedom 90
Matisyahu - One Day
Big Mountain - Peaceful Revolution
Matisyahu - Miracle
The Green - Gotta Be
Pat Benatar - Billie Jean
Israel Kamakawiwo'ole - Somewhere Over the Rainbow
Jason Isbell - If It Takes a Lifetime
Jill Scott - Golden
Simple Minds - Alive and Kicking
Jill Scott - Hate on Me
Michael Franti - Say Hey
posted by jraz at 6:32 AM on September 17, 2018 [1 favorite]

All Will Be Well, Gabe Dixon Band - has the added advantage of having featured in a Parks & Rec episode that culminated in an awesome road trip, if you want a 'grassroots politics is noble and meaningful' connection.
posted by penguin pie at 7:48 AM on September 17, 2018

This might sound a little silly, but I get such a kick out of TLC's "No Scrubs" when it comes to dealing with trifling men that it's on my trial playlist.

I guess technically Mumford and Sons's "Sigh No More" is about recovering post-break-up, but it's easy to take it as a summons to get up and do the Good Thing because Love Gives You Power.
posted by praemunire at 8:44 AM on September 17, 2018

A tiny bit country ish so perhaps right for you, the amazing Josh Ritter:
Still Beating
Lantern (be the light in my lantern, be the light)
Snow is Gone

Also, selections from my playlists for this feeling:
Good as Hell by Lizzo
Rebel Girl by Bikini Kill
Strong Swimmer by Shelby Earl
Bravery Be Written by the Show Ponies
To the Stars by Erin McKeown
posted by fairlynearlyready at 9:14 AM on September 17, 2018 [1 favorite]

Hozier's Nina Cried Power is a new song that's been making me feel pumped up lately.
posted by yasaman at 9:57 AM on September 17, 2018

Vienna Teng, "Level Up" is one of the most inspirational songs I know these days. So great.
posted by suelac at 12:01 PM on September 17, 2018 [1 favorite]

Seconding the Mountain Goats' "This Year" which was a regular anthem when I was working on the Obama campaign in 2007-08.

Other thematically appropriate songs that I wore out that year:
The National -- Mr. November
REO Speedwagon -- Roll With The Changes
Bruce Springsteen -- We Take Care of Our Own and Land of Hope and Dreams
Tom Petty -- The Waiting
Weezer -- In the Garage (for my staging location that was in a garage)

Good luck with your campaign! Go get 'em.
posted by fancypants at 4:07 PM on September 17, 2018 [1 favorite]

I might have to mine this for campaign music myself, so much interesting stuff.

If you like Billy Bragg, there's alwaysWoody Guthrie and Pete Seeger. I'm thinking in particular of Tear The Fascists Down and If I Had A Hammer, respectively, although both have extensive activist catalogues.
David Rovics is also sonically similar, and I don't know that he's written a non-political song. Today in Charlottesville, Failed State, Gather Round, 1848, Standing Rock, Everything Can Change and Song for the Eureka Stockade all jump to mind.

Moving away from the country-ish sound, I'd recommend
Franz Ferdinand - You Could Have It So Much Better, Bite Hard and Right Action.
Run The Jewels, especially RTJ3, A Report to the Shareholders/Kill Your Masters stands out.
CSS - La Liberacion, Rhythm to the Rebels and Rio
Cake - Rock 'n' Roll Lifestyle, I Will Survive
Kaiser Chiefs - Never Miss A Beat
Goanna - Solid Rock
Yothu Yindi - Tribal Voice, Treaty
Santigold - Disparate Youth, Solidarite
Public Service Broadcasting - Go, All Out
William Shatner (euck) - Common People

If you're a Hamilton fan, during my Hamilton spell I also started listening to the soundtrack to Venice, I think they have Leslie Odom Jr in common, particularly Liberation (Pull Up The People) has stayed in some of my playlists, but cw (sexual assault) for that musical.
posted by AnhydrousLove at 5:38 PM on September 17, 2018 [2 favorites]

All the Things that I've Done - The Killers
Walk of Life - Dire Straits
You Sexy Thing - Hot Chocolate
Kiss - Prince
The Safety Dance - Men Without Hats

And then get some Queen in there! Bohemian Rhapsody, Don't Stop Me Now, Another One Bites the Dust!
posted by just_ducky at 7:00 PM on September 17, 2018 [1 favorite]

Smashmouth - Defeat You
Bangles - Lay Yourself Down
OK GO - Invincible
posted by Blue Genie at 9:22 PM on September 17, 2018 [1 favorite]

Here's my activism playlist. It starts kinda slow and then picks up steam.

I Shall Not Be Moved - Charley Patton
Die Gedanken Sind Frei - Pete Seeger
Get Up, Stand Up - Bob Marley & The Wailers
Well Done - Kabaka Pyramid
Distraction - Unified Highway, Garrett Douglas
For What It's Worth - Buffalo Springfield
The Times They Are a Changin' - Bob Dylan
Solidarity Forever - Pete Seeger
Bread and Roses - Joan Baez
As Cool As I Am - Dar Williams
The World - Satchel Grande
The Man of Metropolis Steals Our Hearts - Sufjan Stevens
Hold On - The Gospel Whiskey Runners
Read My Mind - The Killers
People Got To Be Free - The Rascals
We've Gotta Get Out of This Place - The Animals
Tear The Fascists Down - Woody Guthrie
All You Fascists - Billy Bragg, Wilco
Dark Horse - Katy Perry
Shake It Out - Florence + The Machine
Anna Sun - Walk the Moon
Counting Stars - OneRepublic
It's Time - Imagine Dragons
Part Of Me - Katy Perry
Hey Brother - Avicii
Battle Cry - Angel Haze

Can't wait to read through this thread and add a whole bunch more.
posted by galaxy rise at 9:23 PM on September 17, 2018 [3 favorites]

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