Songs about authenticity & self acceptance
April 29, 2020 2:04 PM   Subscribe

Can you suggest some songs about self-acceptance or authenticity that aren't too on the nose?

I'm doing a project and I needs songs about being your authentic self, self-acceptance, that kind of thing. The only ones that are coming to mind are the super obvious ones like "My Way" or "I Gotta Be Me." I'm looking for that kind of thing, but WAY less obvious. A quick Google search brings up, Lady Gaga's Born This Way, Brave by Sara Bareilles, etc but I'd like to find some songs that aren't too on the nose and don't just appear on these kinds of "self-acceptance" lists. I'm hoping for some great lyrics and non-pop songs. Anyone have some good suggestions?
posted by biscuits to Society & Culture (39 answers total) 15 users marked this as a favorite
 
I really like the song Nerve by Anna Wise but it's more about coming out of a thing on your own.

Count my Blessings on the same album is maybe more in your vein.
posted by sibboleth at 2:22 PM on April 29


John Prine and Iris Dement's "In spite of ourselves" falls into this category for me, as a "two common folk in love" song.
posted by Karaage at 2:35 PM on April 29 [4 favorites]


You are looking for Mavis Staples, "I Like The Things About Me."

"I done reached the ṗoint where I wanna be real
I'm tired of living, living in disguise
I like the things about me that I once despised"
posted by MonkeyToes at 2:46 PM on April 29 [1 favorite]


Joni Mitchell's "Down to You" is a bit sad but definitely does it "you're a brute, you're an angel, you can crawl, you can fly too …"

Rilo Kiley's "A Better Son / Daughter" has the effect for me, tho it's not quite about acceptance
posted by wemayfreeze at 2:48 PM on April 29 [3 favorites]


Kacey Musgraves does this type of thing very well. Follow Your Arrow is great, other ideas here possibly.
posted by jabes at 3:01 PM on April 29 [1 favorite]


And mayyyyyybe Morrissey's Sing Your Life?
posted by jabes at 3:05 PM on April 29


The Wailin' Jennys, "Heaven When We're Home" "Ten Mile Stilts" "Some Good Thing"
posted by humbug at 3:09 PM on April 29 [1 favorite]


I'm thinkin' MILKC - Quiet
Maybe Kesha - Praying
posted by i_mean_come_on_now at 3:14 PM on April 29 [1 favorite]


A lot of Paul Simon's lyrics have an element of self-assessment. Homeward Bound, The Boxer, Graceland, Hearts and Bones.
posted by SemiSalt at 3:39 PM on April 29 [2 favorites]




Pretty much this is the entire RVIVR catalogue, but I think Wrong Way/One Way might fit the bill best (although, really all of them).
posted by General Malaise at 3:48 PM on April 29




It's a Great Day to be Alive by Travis Tritt
posted by jquinby at 3:56 PM on April 29 [3 favorites]




Okay, this might seem a little corny on its face but "Bein' Green". It's a classic! It's actually not that obvious! Plus if you don't want to listen to Kermit, you've got Frank Sinatra or Andrew Bird.
posted by thebots at 4:04 PM on April 29 [3 favorites]


Oh boy, I wish I had more time to answer. Here, let me see what I can find in the ten minutes I have available.

The first one that comes to mind (because it's like a personal theme song for me) is The Emperor's New Clothes by Sinead O'Connor: "Whatever it may bring, I will live by my own policies. I will sleep with a clear conscience. I will sleep in peace." Gives me chills every time.

But here's a list of others (without links because that would take too much time).

Björk - Army of Me
Supertramp - Logical Song
Styx - Angry Young Man
Taylor Swift - Shake It Off
Simon & Garfunkel - The Boxer
Eminem - Lose Yourself
Alanis Morissette - That I Would Be Good
Dar Williams - As Cool as I Am
Fiona Apple - Extraordinary Machine
Jem - Finally Woken
Paula Cole - Tiger
Tracy Chapman - Crossroads

Also, a lot of Alicia Keys songs carry this vibe. If I get more time later, I'll more songs.
posted by jdroth at 4:22 PM on April 29 [7 favorites]


S.J. Tucker's Cheshire Kitten is that song for me.
posted by sourcequench at 4:30 PM on April 29 [1 favorite]


jquinby's right, but go with its writer: Darrell Scott, "It's a Great Day to Be Alive."

He also reckons with self-knowledge on his excellent "Hank Williams' Ghost."
posted by MonkeyToes at 4:32 PM on April 29 [1 favorite]


Melissa Ferrick- Everything I Need
posted by Mchelly at 4:42 PM on April 29


"I Am What I Am" from La Cage Aux Folles may be a bit in the "on the nose" category. There's Whitney Houston's "The Greatest Love of All."

Going back a century or so, there's the divine "The Sun, Whose Rays are All Ablaze" from The Mikado.

The sun, whose rays
Are all ablaze
With ever-living glory,
Does not deny
His majesty
He scorns to tell a story!
He don't exclaim,
"I blush for shame,
So kindly be indulgent."
But, fierce and bold,
In fiery gold,
He glories all effulgent!
I mean to rule the earth,
As he the sky
We really know our worth,
The sun and I!

posted by The Underpants Monster at 4:42 PM on April 29 [1 favorite]


The McGarrigle Sisters, Swimming Song and Kiss and Say Goodbye
posted by Lawn Beaver at 4:50 PM on April 29 [1 favorite]


In My Mind by Amanda Palmer
posted by Grandysaur at 4:53 PM on April 29 [2 favorites]


I Love This Bar by Toby Keith.

It's about a bar that attracts every sort of human imaginable. And they're all vibing together. 'No cover charge. Come as you are.' It's radical human acceptance but with beer.

We got winners, we got losers,
Chain smokers and boozers.
An' we got yuppies, we got bikers,
An' we got , thirsty hitchhikers.
And the girls next door dress up like movie stars.
Mm, mm, mm, mm, mm, I love this bar.
We got cowboys, we got truckers,
Broken hearted fools and suckers.
An' we got hustlers, we got fighters,
Early birds and all nighters.
And the veterans talk about their battle scars:
Mm, mm, mm, mm, mm, I love this bar.

posted by MissPitts at 5:30 PM on April 29 [2 favorites]


It's more about perseverance, but maybe "Bang Your Drum" by the Scottish group Dead Man Fall?

Hang out of your window
Shout it down to the people below
They are going to hear you
Keep bangin' on, bangin' on your drum
Keep bangin' on, and your day will come
Keep bangin' on, bangin' on your drum
And they will hear you


For fun - Craig Ferguson did a version where he had a bunch of friends lip-sync this as the opening song for his last-ever episode.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 5:39 PM on April 29 [1 favorite]


This is pretty much my play list.

I love anything by Leonard Cohen because he spent his life creating authentic poetry - Who By Fire, Bird on a Wire, Chelsea Hotel (“We are ugly but we have the music”), the whole album Ten New Songs, especially “Boogie Street”.

I love Bob Dylan’s “Restless Farewell” as my number one ballad in this category. He basically wrote the song in answer to being accused of inauthenticity.

I adore the music video Blind Melon did for “No Pain” which is 100% about being yourself.

Most of the songs on Cat Stevens Tea for the Tillerman album fall into this category. Like “On the Road to Find Out”

Then there are various hits cheering on people trying to be authentic

“Try” by Colbie Caillat
“Say” by John Mayer
“Unwritten” by Natasha Bedingfield
“Hall of Fame” by The Script
“All about that Bass” by Meghan Trainor

And so so many more
posted by rw at 5:53 PM on April 29 [2 favorites]


I'm wondering if songs about self-acceptance in the form of body acceptance count? If so, there are so many songs with lyrics of the singer describing how hot they are. This doesn't feel like what you are looking for but I wanted to point out that there many songs in the rap and hip hip category that fit your non-pop request.
posted by seesom at 6:21 PM on April 29 [2 favorites]


Yes, and so many of the songs from Rocky Horror read as self-acceptance anthems to me.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 6:54 PM on April 29


I Like That by Janelle Monáe
posted by panic at 8:06 PM on April 29 [7 favorites]


Perhaps too on the nose, but I Am That I Am by Peter Tosh comes to mind.
posted by massa intermedia at 8:58 PM on April 29


What Do You Hear In These Sounds by Dar Williams came to mind for me.
posted by music for skeletons at 11:44 PM on April 29


All In Together by Professor Elemental.

Celebrate your oddities, your art, your own insanity
Celebrate your birth, celebrate humanity
Celebrate your everything, and let me be clear
There’s no such thing as normal, everybody’s weird
posted by Too-Ticky at 1:56 AM on April 30




So many good ones...thanks to everyone! Not done yet if there are more ideas!
posted by biscuits at 11:18 AM on April 30




A different John Prine song: Dear Abby. A great reminder that many of life's problems can be put in a different perspective by remembering that you are what you are and you ain't what you ain't, and also that Dear Abby is kind of an asshole.
posted by zeusianfog at 4:13 PM on April 30


Oh, I also like St. Vincent's "Masseduction." You can't turn off what turns you on.
posted by zeusianfog at 4:14 PM on April 30


Finally, I'm surprised that no one's mentioned "Like A Girl" by Lizzo yet.
posted by zeusianfog at 4:19 PM on April 30


Also by Lizzo, Soulmate. Or most of her songs, really.
posted by bluloo at 9:08 PM on April 30


I have some sort of obscure ones that I love. Janice Robinson - Nothing I Would Change is a giant statement of self acceptance and authenticity. I have loved all of (and highly recommend) her debut album Wild Seed - Wild Flower for decades but the Dionne Farris track Human fits right into what you're looking for.

Likewise India.Arie, whose remarkable album Testimony Vol 1 contains the track There's Hope. (Actually, the whole album again, is a statement of personal power and acceptance.)

Indigo Girls come into the picture with their standout track Go which got a new video just a couple of years ago.

Pearl Jam has a couple of low key songs that are in this vein, from their angle: perhaps Present Tense or Who You Are or weird tone poem I'm Open (maybe) fit the bill? (All from the album No Code, a favorite of mine.)

I'll wrap this up with a song or two from The Polyphonic Spree. I might suggest We Crawl as an interesting anthem of empowerment. [The trumpet descant in this piece is one of the most joyous things I've ever heard.] Plus a song that features a literal clapback at the doubters, You Don't Know Me.
posted by hippybear at 10:17 PM on April 30


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