Helpful music for a bad month

The US election just… shocked me. Until the very hour the needle swung so far, it just hadn’t seemed possible, and now a lot of really terrible things no longer seem impossible. I’ve been feeling paralyzed by worry for friends, worry for strangers, worry for the world.

I want to do helpful things, but I’m far from local action, I’m not a US citizen, I am paranoid about even putting my name to dumb petitions because my job requires me to cross the border frequently, and I’m tied up financially waiting for certain unrelated life things to be resolved so I know where I stand. I am trying to figure this out.

In this period of inaction, I’ve been wrestling between the desire to keep looking at what’s happening – because we all need to look hard at what’s coming and keep actively supporting the right sides – and the nausea, rooted in my own often-deep pessimism, that makes me want to turn away until I know concretely what I can do.

It’s not a fun feeling, I’m not super proud of it, but in the meantime I’ve been trying to soothe the ragged emotional edges somehow. Even temporary drinking was out of the question, because this felt so deep I needed to keep my strength. Running has helped, and drumming too, but I’m back to square one when I stop. I’ve been experimenting with music to see if I feel better getting close to bad feelings, or better when I distract myself thinking about good things. Loud? Angry? Morose? Optimistic? Upbeat distraction ended up feeling cheap and blank, so I tried chasing the bad feelings here and there, but that proved unsustainable. For example:

Way too on the nose.

Too hard on my heart.

Sublime isn’t doing it.

Too… close to it.

Excellent fit, emotionally, but not an improvement.

Then, randomly, I got a pile of records from a swap at The Brain this weekend and was running through them one by one when the exact right song came on. I can’t even say what the magic ingredient is, but it’s the first thing to make me dance in two weeks. Thanks, Buddy Holly.






If you have a song or a thing that’s helping you keep a grip on things while we all adjust and regroup, share it in a comment so we can all enjoy?

Also okay, p.s. maybe you should also listen to Titus Andronicus’ “Richard II” after all. It’s just the right kind of yelling right now.

3 Comments on “Helpful music for a bad month

  1. Blast from the Past
    One song that helped me was Flying on Your Own by the Cape Breton iconic writer and singer Rita NacNeil

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