Songs of hope in times of trouble
March 28, 2019 4:36 AM   Subscribe

In times of Brexit, Trump, and general chaos, and being an LGBTQ+ person in times of increasing discrimination, well it's all pulling me towards bleakness. Music of hope is urgently required, antidotes to weariness requested.

Things I've been listen to include Joshua Henry's 'Way Over Yonder' but I'm stuck at music that might just help me (and potentially other people) get through these tough days.
posted by Augenblick to Grab Bag (40 answers total) 37 users marked this as a favorite
Vienna Teng, Level Up
posted by eirias at 4:57 AM on March 28 [3 favorites]

"I Was Made for Sunny Days" - The Weepies
"Fred Astaire - Jukebox the Ghost
"You're My Best Friend - Queen
"Stupidly Happy" - XTC
"Beautiful World" - Colin Hay
"Octopus's Garden" - The Beatles
"Here Comes the Sun" - The Beatles
"Odds Are" - Barenaked Ladies
"Smoke Alarm" - Carsie Blanton
"Buck Up" - Carsie Blanton
posted by jzb at 4:59 AM on March 28 [1 favorite]

Craig Ferguson's version of "Keep Banging On Your Drum" helps me when things are tough.
posted by Calvin and the Duplicators at 5:07 AM on March 28 [3 favorites]

My queer-as-hell choir's rep this season is pretty good for this, here's some selections we're doing:

This Is Me from The Greatest Showman
Wide Open Spaces by Sarah Quartel
I Love You / What a Wonderful World
How Far I'll Go from Moana
Let the River Run by Carly Simon
posted by seanmpuckett at 5:26 AM on March 28 [4 favorites]

My go-to for this is Ooh Child.
posted by wellred at 5:38 AM on March 28 [4 favorites]

Bowie and Gail Ann Dorsey singing Under Pressure together always gives me the positive feels and some cathartic tears.
McAlmont and Butler - Can We Make It? is also a joyful thing. "Keep Trying!"
posted by merocet at 5:51 AM on March 28 [1 favorite]

Janelle Monae’s entire Dirty Computer album (and the movie!) is this for me.
posted by caitcadieux at 6:07 AM on March 28 [7 favorites]

wrong way/one way - RVIVR
posted by General Malaise at 6:13 AM on March 28

Honestly when I get down like this I tend to put on Chumbawamba. Bright, happy, deeply subversive.
posted by bile and syntax at 6:14 AM on March 28 [8 favorites]

I keep a playlist of songs for this mood... although mine might be kind of a mix of hopeful, "hang in there," and "keep on fighting..." Here's a few I haven't seen mentioned:

Eyes to the Sky - Joseph
Machine - MisterWives
Stay Alive - Jose Gonzalez
White Flag - Joseph
Ride This Out - Imaginary Cities
Harder Before It Gets Easier - David Wax Museum
Sing About It - The Wood Brothers
posted by somanyamys at 6:42 AM on March 28 [1 favorite]

The Queer Gospel - Erin McKeown (also, here is her sharing the sheet music for it!)
posted by aka burlap at 6:57 AM on March 28 [1 favorite]

First you fall down, then you jump back up again. Find your rhythm, momentum is the key.
posted by Gordafarin at 7:02 AM on March 28 [1 favorite]

It kinda leans into the feeling, but my soundtrack for the last couple of years has been Social D's "Ball and Chain."
posted by GCU Sweet and Full of Grace at 7:07 AM on March 28 [2 favorites]

Mika - Grace Kelly
posted by Wild_Eep at 7:12 AM on March 28 [1 favorite]

I asked this question awhile back and got a ton of great suggestions.
posted by bookmammal at 7:23 AM on March 28 [1 favorite]

Dark dark dark
posted by speakeasy at 7:32 AM on March 28

Velvet Underground's Rock n Roll often helps me

Despite all the computations
You could just dance
To that rock 'n' roll station
And baby it was alright (it was alright)
Hey it was alright (it was alright)
posted by tomp at 7:33 AM on March 28 [1 favorite]

Pete Seeger! "Union Maid" and "Joe Hill" and "Which Side Are You On" in particular are great ones to belt out while alone in the house or driving.
posted by Lawn Beaver at 7:39 AM on March 28 [1 favorite]

When I was in high school my friend made a mix tape with I Can See Clearly Now on it twice in a row, back to back, and we were into the Pixies and Nirvana and made fun of him a lot, but it made me laugh every time. So cheerful.
posted by something something at 7:44 AM on March 28 [2 favorites]

Nina Simone, Trouble in Mind
Peter, Paul, and Mary, Early in the Morning
The Beatles, Nowhere Man (this live in Munich version is sublime

posted by sallybrown at 7:49 AM on March 28

As We Go Along, written by Carole King and Toni Stern for The Monkees. Neil Young and Ry Cooder play guitar on this track, by the way.
posted by jocelmeow at 8:54 AM on March 28

I've been crying to Dirty Computer since release.

One of my recent "Fuck You" songs has been IDLES, "Danny Nedelko". Depending on your mood, "Television" might be good.
posted by GenderNullPointerException at 9:02 AM on March 28 [2 favorites]

I was coming here to suggest Bowie and GAD's version of Under Pressure, but someone beat me to it!!!
posted by kbbbo at 9:20 AM on March 28 [2 favorites]

Let all them voices slip away.
posted by robself at 10:50 AM on March 28

To the Stars - Erin McKeown
Lantern - Josh Ritter
Strong Swimmer - Shelby Earl
Instrument - Mason Jennings
Bravery Be Written - the Show Ponies
Still Beating - Josh Ritter
Absolute Lithops Effect - the Mountain Goats
Extraordinary Machine - Fiona Apple
Lark - Josh Ritter
Head Underwater - Jenny Lewis
Stay Gold - First Aid Kit
Closer to Fine - the Indigo Girls
No Bad News - Patty Griffin
Up the Wolves - the Mountain Goats
posted by fairlynearlyready at 11:53 AM on March 28

There are two (well, also countless others) Mountain Goats songs which are somewhat orthogonal to the problems you mention, but I do find that they give me the opposite of weariness: "You Were Cool" and "The Legend of Chavo Guerrero." The former you will only find on YouTube as a live song.
posted by kensington314 at 1:25 PM on March 28

Alabama Shakes - Hold On
So, bless my heart, and bless my mind... I got so much I wanna do, I ain't got much time
So, must be somebody up above singin' "Come on, baby girl! You got to get back up!"
You got to hooold on... yeah, you got to hooold on...
Yeah, you got to wait! Yeah, you gotta wait...
But, I don't wanna wait! No, I don't wanna wait...

You got to hold on...
When the world ain't treatin' ya good, you got to hold on...
When everybody's lookin' at you funny, you got to hold on... you got to hold on...
Alabama Shakes - This Feeling
I just kept hoping, I just kept hoping, the way would become clear
I spent all this time try'na play nice and I found my way here
See, I've been having me a real hard time, but it feels so nice, to know I'm gonna be alright

So, I just kept dreaming, yeah, I just kept dreaming, it wasn't very hard
I spent all this time try'na figure out why nobody on my side
See, I've been having me a real good time, but it feels so nice, to know I'm gonna be alright
Alabama Shakes - You Ain't Alone
You ain't alone... so why you lonely?
There you go on the dark end of the street
Are you scared to tell somebody how you feel about somebody?
Are you scared what somebody's gonna think?
Or are you scared to wear your heart out on your sleeve?
Are you scared me?
'Cuz I'm scared the bomb gonna take me away
Oh, but I really don't know what I got to say [...]

Cry, if you gonna cry
Well come on, cry with me
You ain't alone
Just let me be your ticket home
Radiohead - Desert Island Disk
Now as I go upon my way, so let me go upon my way
Born of a light, born of a light
The wind rushing 'round my open heart, an open ravine
With my spirit wide, totally alive, and my spirit light...

Through an open doorway, across a street, to another life
And catching my reflection, in a window
Switchin' on a light, one I didn't know
Totally alive, totally released...

Wakin', wakin' up from shutdown, from a thousand years of sleep
Yeah you, you know what I mean...
Standin' on the edge of you, you know what I mean...
Different types of love... are possible
Radiohead - Worrywort
You don't wanna talk to me, you don't wanna say the words
You're try'na get off the hook, you're try'na get off the hook
Sprawling on a pin, hanging off a hook
You're trying to get yourself away, trying to get yourself away

There's no use dwelling on, on what might have been
Just think of all the fun you could be having [...]
There's no use dwelling on, no use dwelling on...
Its such a beautiful day, its such a beautiful day
Thom Yorke - Atoms for Peace
No more going to the dark side with your flying saucer eyes
No more falling down a wormhole that I have to pull you out
The wrigglin' twigglin' worm inside devours from the inside out
No more talk about the old days -- it's time for something great

I want you to get out and make it work
So many allies, so many allies, so many allies
So feel the love come off of them and take me in your arms
posted by Rhaomi at 2:55 PM on March 28 [1 favorite]

An option without words that I've been gravitating toward lately is Malian Kora music, whether played on a kora, or with cello and/or guitar. I find it really settling and centering, without being saccharine.

Kaira and Miniyamba played on guitar by Derek Gripper.

Miniyamba kora played by Tunde Jegede, with Derek Gripper on guitar

Ballake Sissoko and Vincent Segal (kora and cello)
posted by umbú at 3:43 PM on March 28 [1 favorite]

The New Radicals, You Get What You Give
posted by chocolatetiara at 4:50 PM on March 28

O-o-h Child, The Five Stairsteps

I really like Lisa Loeb's cover
posted by Constance Mirabella at 5:49 PM on March 28

Sam Philips, One Day Late
posted by praemunire at 10:28 PM on March 28 [1 favorite]

Oh, also: Staples Sisters, I'll Take You There

Jimmy Scott, No Disappointment in Heaven

Seconding "Up the Wolves," and indeed much of The Sunset Tree, probably the most hopeful album possible about surviving an abusive parent.
posted by praemunire at 10:36 PM on March 28 [1 favorite]

I have an entire playlist of this. Some of my nods are already mentioned above, let's see what else I can add:

Ordinary Day by Great Big Sea. A lot of "someday your ship will come in" sentiment.
You Gotta Be by Des'ree.
This Too Shall Pass by OK Go. The sentiment is more "it'll be okay, you will get through this."
Fanfare For The Common Man by Aaron Copland. The notion of honoring everyday struggles with the epic underscoring they deserve.
Beautiful Day by U2. There's a lyric in there towards the end I love: "What you don't have, you don't need it now, what you don't know, you can feel somehow." A very "where you are now is enough" thing.
Fisherman's Blues by the Waterboys. The third verse is very "someday it'll all be okay." And I defy anyone to be upset after listening to this just from the music.
Shambala by Three Dog Night.
The Stairs by INXS. This is about how all of us are going through our own private struggles, all the people around you, and none of us every really know it - and that that struggle gives all of us nobility. "Though all are different, all are great" is one of the lyrics; and it's big enough that they made that lyric the epigram for their video.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:06 AM on March 29 [3 favorites]

Old school: Tom Robinson Band, Power in the Darkness
posted by Bron at 10:21 AM on March 29 [1 favorite]

From a queer-people standpoint, Tom Robinson is a foundational gay punk rocker, famous not only for his left wing politics but also for the song Glad To Be Gay.

If you want a song that will make you feel just generally better:

The Age of Miracles by the Clientele is a go-to.

I also particularly love Swimming Ground by the Meat Puppets, a song I take to be a representation of non-terrible, non-fucked up masculinity in that it's about enjoying something ordinary without competition or hatred of women. Also it just sort of....flows.

Again with the queer people, how about Owen Pallett, The Secret Seven? It's about sad things but it has a happy ending, and also he sings his actual phone number at the end. The whole album, In Conflict, is really good.

Also, We Are Born In Flames by Essential Logic/The Red Krayola, particularly appropriate for the present:

"At a new life we took aim
We set the vast conglomerates aflame
The working class avowed its name
Of America’s mysteries none remain"
posted by Frowner at 10:50 AM on March 29 [1 favorite]

Thank you so much for these wonderful and thoughtful responses. So very appreciated.
posted by Augenblick at 11:00 AM on March 29

To be soothed and feel better about people:
Lean on me by Bill Withers
Milkman of human kindness by Billy Bragg (and of course most of the rest of him for FIGHT! music)
Travelling Thru by Dolly Parton (not endorsing the associated film)

for guaranteed feeling at peace even if you don't understand Arabic, this is like an instant-acting topical ointment:
Kaan Ya Ma Kaan by Marwan Abado

for powering back up:
Life Love Unity by Dreadzone
Little Britain by Dreadzone (personally. might apply esp. to Brexit woes)
New Way New Life - Asian Dub Foundation (watch the video, it's glorious.)
posted by runincircles at 11:02 AM on March 30 [1 favorite]

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