Music is one of the most powerful outlets when it comes to emotion. It can bring out your best, your worst, or sometimes nothing at all. Sometimes you need music that lets you feel the moment, and sometimes you need it to lift you out of that moment, sending you far away where the hurt can no longer reach you.
I have plenty of songs that make me feel good, but these songs in particular show up on my playlist when I’m trying to process something. They help me out of a rough patch, whether it’s a rough few months, weeks, or days. There are times where I need to live in the moment, allow myself to feel what I feel, in order to move on. I try not to bury my emotions, but it’s a work in progress. I’ll usually be listening to one of these songs and writing something simultaneously; it’s my most effective outlet thus far.
Other songs help me navigate what I should do next, or help me be what I need to be, whether it’s brave, strong, or both. Some songs help me make sense of things, and others send me far away into my own world of escapism. Sometimes you need to take a vacation from your problems, you know? Even if it’s for a few minutes, even seconds, it’s a hell of a lot better than letting your emotions run so deep that they become buried and later left to fester.
I hope these songs help you as they’ve helped me.
Amy Grant—“Who To Listen To”
Sometimes when the voices of those around me become too much, I rely on the words of Amy Grant. Whenever there’s a problem, whether big, small or in-between, you’ll find that people have all kinds of advice to share. Some may be wrong, right, or somewhat on-point. They’re usually just trying to help, which I always appreciate.
Though sometimes, it just becomes too overwhelming, maybe even confusing, and I need time to sort out what they’ve said and decide what advice is right for me.
It’s a good song for many reasons. It’s good for sorting out your emotions and recognizing the advice that’s right for you, whether it’s from someone else or advice of your own. It’s good for epiphanies and self-realization. It’s also good for self-awareness, and being ready to tackle on the next problem with a little more wisdom.
“Coming Undone” sends me back to my high-school years. It was my “angry” song. One of them, anyway.
It was one of the first songs I ever listened to that really resonated with me, like Korn had written the lyrics specifically for my emotions. I like to turn up the volume and really soak in the music and lyrics. “What looks so strong, so delicate” is probably my favorite lyric because, to me, it meant that even the strong fall down from time to time. It helped me realize that everyone has their moment where they’ve reached their limit. There’s nothing wrong with that, and it was a message I needed to hear.
Gavin Rossdale—“Love Remains The Same”
I came across “Love Remains The Same” a year ago, but am just now getting back into it. The title itself means a lot to me. Obviously Rossdale is talking about a relationship, but to me this song means something else entirely.
When I hear “love remains the same,” it’s a statement, but it’s also reassurance. The world is always changing, but love is eternal, and love is love no matter how you slice it. In a world that can be chaotic, it’s nice to have one familiar constant. Especially if that love is unconditional. There’s no better love than that.
This isn’t a song, it’s a score. Jan Hammer is the composer of the theme song for 1980s smash-hit Miami Vice. I’m a fan of the show, and I love listening to scores, so I paid attention. This is my favorite score to come out of the series.
Something about the sound makes me think of rain, but the memory it really sends me back to is when I’d walk to school. I’m caught in one of my many moments as a college freshman, going out my dorm the back way, taking shortcuts to class. The sun beats down from above, blazing, offering temperatures of 100 degrees or more, especially in the beginning of the semester. I’d try taking shade in the palm trees and shadows of the buildings. Sometimes I’d listen to “Rain” wishing for its namesake, and sometimes the song allowed me 2 minutes and 32 seconds of retrospective thought.
Listening to it now, it makes me think of that moment, and I realize it’s one of my favorite memories from college. I miss my friends, my classes, the palm trees, everything. It brings me happiness, and it still offers me time to reflect. It also helps alleviate some of that homesickness that tends to pop up every so often.
Alanis Morissette—“You Learn”
I had to include my favorite Alanis Morissette song. I started listening to it in college, and wondered why I hadn’t come across it sooner. Morissette is a brilliant songwriter, putting into words the meaningfulness of life lessons in a way that leaves great impact.
You do learn. You make mistakes, it’s a part of the learning curve. You learn from success, even more from failure. The more life you experience, the more you learn. That’s what the song is about. Sometimes I need a reminder that making mistakes, failing, and everything else are all a part of the never-ending school of life. Life is something you never entirely graduate from. You graduate on certain levels, but you’re always learning something new. That’s a good thing. It keeps life interesting.
Simple Plan—“Welcome To My Life”
The lyrics are incredibly well-written and universally relatable. Of course I’m biased as a die-hard Simple Plan fan, but I think most would agree with me on the subject.
It’s a song about feelings most experience at one time or another in their lives. For me, it was always comforting to hear the song because the words I couldn’t express in the moment had been outlined exactly as I needed to hear it. It was soothing because it made me feel a little less alone in whatever dilemma or frustration I was facing. It’s one of the songs I remember most from my childhood. The takeaway? A lot of people get it, the feelings that Pierre Bouvier is expressing. You’re not alone.
Kaleo—“Way Down We Go”
This is one of those songs I listen to when I need to live in the moment and let everything negative bleed from my veins until it’s gone. It’s a powerful song, in my opinion, asking the deep question of “Oh, Father tell me, do we get what we deserve?”I think there’s a certain amount of karma, good and bad, in the world, so that belief concurs with the lyrics for me.
The lyrics “they will run you down, down ’til you fall/and they will run you down, down ’til you go/yeah, so you can’t crawl no more” are a perfect illustration of how people can feel when they feel like everything and everyone are bearing down on them, and they have nowhere else to turn. Sometimes the world can be like that, but as long as you decide not to allow it to keep you down, it will never be permanent. Once you’re aware of that, it makes things far easier than they were before.
Something about the lyric “and way down we go,” coupled with the music, has me envisioning a massive fall, or even slowly sinking in water. I tend to visualize how I feel, but by the time the song ends, I’ve broken the surface, I’ve stopped falling, or both. I need to have that one moment where I feel like everything’s out of control, before it’s placed back in control. At the end, I come out standing solidly on my own two feet, ready to take on the world once again.
Five Finger Death Punch—“Jekyll And Hyde”
The opening lyrics are some of the best I’ve ever heard. We’re all just trying to live our motherfu***** lives! Why the pressures of life are, and can be, so great is beyond me. Why it’s so hard to make it in this world sometimes is just impossible in itself. This song helps me release that anger and frustration, and puts me in a better mood. I’ll be honest, I listened to this one on repeat when I was in college. College is harder than need be sometimes.
This is my favorite Five Finger Death Punch song, and I hope to see them perform it in concert someday. It’s on my bucket list. I’d probably go with my mom, she loves this song as much as I do. We’re a rocker family, so naturally one of our outlets is rocker music.
Drake Bell—“I Found A Way”
It may be the theme song to Drake & Josh, but it’s also a great “feel good” kind of song. It’s the kind of song I love listening to once I’ve conquered something, especially when it was deemed impossible. That, and to listen to it for old time’s sake. I was a devoted Drake & Josh fan, and I’ll admit I had a crush on Drake Bell.
I like to say “it’s gonna take some time to realign,” and I got that from the lyrics of the song. It’s a fun early 2000s song that’s great for nostalgia, for celebrating victories, for reminding someone that you’re there for them or just as something fun to throw on the party playlist. You never know what will come of it, “so just turn around…”
Rolling Stones—“Play With Fire”
There’s something beguiling about the lyrics. I’ve always thought of them as a subtle warning. Don’t mess with me, or you’ll be sorry—or at least a vibe resembling that kind of mentality.
I find the music charmingly haunting. It sticks with you. I love the band, always have. There’s a lot of Rolling Stones songs that I treasure, but “Play With Fire” has a level all its own. It’s threatening, and yet soothing. I’m like most people—I don’t like it when others mess with me, so this is my go-to when I feel provoked. Then again, I also just like to listen to it randomly to enjoy it. It makes me feel better, but it also has me appreciating classic music.
The Mamas & The Papas—“California Dreamin'”
Sometimes the simplest songs bring the most joy. I love this 1960s gem. Admittedly, I’m a fan of the 1960s–clothes, music, movies, celebrities, interior design. This is my favorite song by The Mamas & The Papas, because California is my dream. I love the sunshine, the palm trees, the ocean.
I listen to this song to imagine the sunshine, and to remind myself that I’ll get there someday. The song makes me happy in many ways, but it’s especially meaningful because I’ve associated it with my dreams.
Oasis—“Stop Crying Your Heart Out”
“Stop Crying Your Heart Out” is the kind of reassurance I seek for many situations. Basically, the message is that everything will be okay. Maybe not in that moment, but eventually.
The song boasts some of my favorite lyrics of all time: “‘Cause all of the stars/have faded away/just try not to worry/you’ll see them someday.”
Perhaps it’s the cinephile in me, but I imagine one of those dramatic movie scenes where a character is going through a rough time, and is driving or walking away, this song playing in the background. I don’t know what it is, but when I pair music with movies, it’s one of the best healing compilations I’ve come across that actually works for me. That’s the point, right? Finding something that works for you to make life a little easier in the long-run.
You can’t change the past, and you can’t change the things that don’t want to be changed. Tears can help, but not forever. There comes a time where everyone has to move on. Don’t worry, you’ll see the stars again someday.