I don't need to tell you this, but there is just so much uncertainty these days. The pandemic continues to ebb and flow, the political situation, both locally and nationally, is ever-evolving, and the economic situation is "challenging" at best for so many right now. In these times that feel anything but "stable," I have turned to music to help me cope and manage my daily barrage of feelings and emotions. These songs are not not necessarily "comforting," as they explore and delve into multiple layers of human feelings. But, they are songs that resonate with so much of what is going on these days. These are songs from 1980 through the early 2000s and were certainly not written for the pandemic we are currently facing. That being said, the human feelings and thoughts expressed are certainly relatable to the current situation. Let's take a look (and listen) now at 10 songs that can help you cathartically release some feelings right now, listed in chronological order of initial release.
The chart numbers (where applicable) are from the Billboard Hot 100, with the year indicated in which the song peaked at that position.
Emotional Rescue by The Rolling Stones: #3, 1980. A little early '80's disco action from The Stones is a great way to start this list of cathartic songs. We could all use some rescue from our emotions these days. That "rescue" just might involve acknowledging and accepting our emotions more, and working with them, instead of against them. Turn up this song, and dance with your emotions; you'll feel better, and even burn some pandemic calories...win win!
Watching The Wheels by John Lennon: #10, 1981. The late great John Lennon left us with one helluva library of fantastic music, including this tune that encourages us to see life from a different perspective. Before the pandemic, so many of us had been used to "going" and "doing" all the time and never having an opportunity to step back, take a break, and just "be." This song really encourages us to take a break from the rat race. At the end of the day, maybe the previous “normal” really wasn’t what we really wanted after all. Perhaps something even better will come along, after we have had a chance to just relax and contemplate for a bit.
Coming Around Again by Carly Simon: #18, 1986. It may feel like we may never return to any sense of normalcy, but you can already see some things starting to open up again, and there are so many things that are still coming around again, such as phone calls from good friends, letters from family members, and the gratitude that has been shown to all those medical professionals, firefighters, and other essential workers that are doing all they can to keep us healthy and safe. At the end of the day, things are always changing, but many things really remain the same. This song is rather philosophical, and also a lot of fun to sing along with! Turn it up loud and truly enjoy the experience.
All This Time by Sting: #5, 1991. I think most of us can relate to the feelings and questions that Sting raises in this song. Many are questioning their own spirituality and faith in these times of fear. But, even in the midst of all the chaos and uncertainty, "normal" still continues, including the rivers flowing to the sea. Time moves on, and life goes on. It certainly feels "topsy turvy" right now, but maybe we can use this time to enjoy the simple things in life and the natural world around us.
Waiting For That Day by George Michael: #27, 1991. Many are definitely "waiting for that day" when COVID is no longer a daily term in our vernacular. But, in the meantime, patience is often in short supply and so hard to come by. But, do our memories of life before the pandemic really serve us so well? Were things really always better than they are now? Maybe we can work on focusing more on the present, and what we can learn from these challenging times. The Rolling Stones' famous line, "you can’t always get what you want" is featured in this song. Let's use this song as a motivator for working on what we need, as well as what our larger community needs.
Drive by R.E.M: #28, 1992. Revolution and change is happening as is evidenced by so much of what has happened thus far in 2020. It’s a long road, but little steps can lead to big change, if you only have the "drive" to keep moving forward, no matter how bumpy the road may be. Drive features such a haunting melody but positive message, which seems to indicate just how important it is to stay positive in scary and uncertain times, such as those we are currently living through.
Human Wheels by John Mellencamp: #45, 1993. Much of what we are currently experiencing may feel haunting and foreboding, but we're still alive and kicking and doing what we can to make it through. Mirroring our current reality, this song has an uneasy and frightening production quality, but our "human wheels are still keeping pace." This is a heavy song and not recommended if you are feeling too down...but it is one that will resonate with many right now.
Back 2 Good by matchbox twenty: #24, 1999. So many are hoping to get “back" to “good,” but was the previous normal really that "good?" Like Human Wheels, this song is haunting. And, of course, this song features Rob Thomas’ fabulous vocals, so it can help make the "not good" time not really feel all that "bad."
Have A Cry by Kina: 2000. Maybe this should be the "2020 Theme Song." The 2020 soundtrack has more than provided its fair share of reasons why one might want to cry. Crying can be so cathartic especially right now. It’s ok not to feel ok, especially right now, but honestly, at any time. It's human and more than ok not to have a happy face all the time. Kina's searing vocals in this fantastic song help us learn how to accept how we’re feeling at the moment. If we all did more of this, we might feel a lot better.
Just Can’t Last by Natalie Merchant: 2001. This song came out shortly after another tumultuous time in the United States, a couple of months after the tragic events of September 11, 2001. Like so many of Natalie's songs, this song is very philosophical and provides a glimmer of hope in these heavy times. Everything is always in a state of change, and this current situation too shall pass. It may not pass as quickly as we would like, or how we would like, but nonetheless, nothing lasts forever. The lyrics are comforting and scary, and demonstrate why it's important (and difficult) to live and let go.
I hope these songs provide some emotional resonance for you right now. They may even provide some comfort, as we all continue to move forward during these uncertain times. Stay strong, and safe. And, keep on listening to the music, and singing your song!