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I Ask: What Music Do You Listen To When You Are Down?

As you know, things are a bit upside down for me right now. I don’t even feel like writing (which scares the crap out of me), but I finished the first season of Glee so obviously the only thing left to do is blog.

I don’t want to talk about what has sent me reeling. But your thoughts and prayers and emails and DMs and comments and texts and interpretive dances and smoking signals have made a huge difference. They’ve made me cry and laugh and breathe. Thank you thank you thank you.

Every time I go on Twitter and want to scream SHUT THE EFF UP ABOUT YOUR PETTY STUPID WHO CARES STUFF, I read a kind DM and remember that beneath all the PETTY STUPID WHO CARES STUFF, people have beating hearts and do care. And without blogging and social media, I wouldn’t know most of the people who have been where I am standing.

So don’t think that I’m leaving even though it’s hard to be here for some reason. I apologize if my writing sucks today.

Many of you have asked how you can help beyond thinking and/or praying for us. Well…

I’m in a melancholy place, and I’ve needed to listen to music. And sing. (My poor, poor family. Like they aren’t going through enough.)

So far, my songs have been Army by Ben Folds Five because it’s awesome and Touch Me by The Doors, which is totally inappropriate for my situation, but it came on the radio and stuck.

In fact, both choices are weird although you should hear me BAPBAAAAHHHH-ing along with the live version of Army. It’s pretty fantastic. (Click here if you can’t see the video. Next time, we get together we can Bahbah!)

Now that you know they can be as weird as possible, I would love to hear what you listen to when you hurt in that grieving, melancholy, screw this way.

So I ask: What music do you listen to when you’re down?

Alex Iwashyna

Alex Iwashyna went from a B.A. in philosophy to an M.D. to a SAHM, poet and writer by 30. She spends most of her writing time on, a humor blog (except when it's serious) about her husband fighting zombies, awkward attempts at friendship, and dancing like everyone is watching. She also has a soft spot for culture, politics, and rude Southern people who offend her Yankee sensibilities. She parents 2 elementary-aged children, 1 foster baby, 3 cats, and 1 puppy, who are all Southern but not rude. Yet.

42 thoughts to “I Ask: What Music Do You Listen To When You Are Down?”

  1. when i was really deep in grieving, i couldn’t listen to anything. it all brought way too much to the surface. i went months without listening to music because every time i tried i started sobbing.

    when i finally could listen again, i went for the stuff that was as emotionally neutral as possible. i’ve listened to so much john prine in my life that i don’t really associate his music with anything in particular and he never brings me down. david byrne? forget it. i love him, but if i’m anywhere in proximity to the emotional edge, he’ll push me right over. 80s/90s pop music are always a safe bet–adam ant, stray cats, spin doctors, stuff like that. bouncy, brainless music that makes me feel good and doesn’t cause me to think about anything.

  2. In junior high it was all smashing pumpkins and sarah mclachlan and angst.

    Now I listen to the oldies and classic rock because it’s got a chance of making me feel better. Or weeping.

    We’re here for whatever you need. And I will sing Touch Me along with you if it makes even an ounce difference.

  3. I love Landslide. Originally by Stevie Nicks/Fleetwood Mac, but I belt out the Dixie Chicks’ version. The lyrics…oh they move me and touch me in almost any depressive situation.

    I took my love
    And I took it down
    I climbed a mountain
    And I turned around
    And I saw my reflection
    in a snow covered hill
    Well the Landslide brought me down

    Oh mirror in the sky what is love
    Can a child within my heart rise above
    Can I sail through the changing ocean tides
    Can I handle the seasons of my life

    Well, I’ve been afraid of changin’
    ‘Cause I build my life around you
    But time makes bolder
    Well Children get older
    I’m getting older too

    Well, I’m getting older too

    Dixie Chicks:

    And, if you don’t like country, Stevie Nicks:

    I hang on every.single.word.

    Hope this song and the many other on here can help bring you some release and maybe some comfort.

  4. Might be a little Latino for you but I love “La Vida es un Carnaval” by Celia Cruz. It means “life is a carnival” and the chorus says “Don’t cry for life is a carnival and sorrows can be sung and danced away”. Give it a try: (ps: the video is totally tacky, but that cheers me up, too)

  5. Praying and sending good thoughts!

    I’m ecclectic in my music tastes (I like that better than “weird,” but weird is probably a better word for it). Lately when I need musical inspiration or fee like dancing/singing (because that cheers me up, too), I go to Pandora and put in several favorite artists, in all genres, and have Pandora mix up a station for me. Then I get everything from Beastie Boys to Don Williams and I’m a happy – albeit weird – girl.

    Wish I could do something – a real THING – to help you. Just know, you don’t need to explain yourself or apologize for writing (or not writing). Just take care of you and yours. We’ll all be here when you’re ready to write again.

  6. I like Dave Matthews Some Devil album. I totally love Dave all the time, but that is a particularly somber album. I tend to wallow, so anything sad helps me get it all out.

    I am thinking of you and hoping that whatever’s got you down works itself out soon.

  7. *Pulling out iPod, clicking on “When I’m Down” list*

    1. Down (Candlelight Remix) by: Jay Sean
    2. Breathe Me by: Sia
    3. Hometown Glory by: Adele
    4. Turning Tables by: Adele
    5. Family Affair by: Abra Moore
    6. Let It Rain by: Amanda Marshall
    7. Latika’s Theme from Slumdog Millionaire
    8. Don’T by: Jesse Ruben
    9. Falling by: Keri Noble
    10. I Got You by: Leona Lewis
    11. Breathe Again by: Sara Bareilles
    12. The Light by: Sara Bareilles
    13. Gravity by: Sara Bareilles
    14. One Moment More by: Mindy Smith
    15. Koyal (Songbird) by: Nitin Sawhney
    16. I Will Not Take My Love Away by: Matt Wertz
    17. Burnin’ Bridges by: Jessie James
    18. You Lost Me by: Christina Aguilera
    19. Begin to Cry by: Christopher Jak
    20. Permanent by: David Cook
    21. On a Night Like This by: Dave Barnes
    22. Keep Breathing by: Ingrid Michaelson
    23. You Make it Real by: James Morrison
    24. Cry by: Kelly Clarkson
    25. Papercut by: Apollo Drive
    26. Love Never Fails by: Brandon Heath
    27. Easier to Lie by: Aqualung
    28. Safe by: Natalie Grant
    29. Imagine by: Taio Cruz
    30. Wonderwall by: Ryan Adams
    31. Losing Your Memory by: Ryan Adams
    32. Who You Are by: Jessie J
    33. Shipwreck from the Satisfaction (Original Soundtrack)
    34. Fly by: Celine Dion
    35. Wah-Wah (Piano Solo) from Wah-Wah Original Soundtrack

    ….The dance teacher in me has music for almost every feeling 🙂

    Sending prayers and good music (thus peace) your way!


  8. I had to think about it for a bit but what kept coming to mind was the “Escapology” album by Robbie Williams, particularly “Feel,” “Come Undone,” and “One Fine Day.” It’s also got the brilliant brain-cleansing track “Me and My Monkey,” which always seems to take me out of my body, and then “Nan’s Song,” which loads on the cathartic bawling.

    Hold on tight, Alex.

  9. I have a soundtrack for everything…and most of my sad music the last couple of years has been about lost love…I can burn 20 cds of that for you.

    But my favorites…when I’m really in a funk are from the Fighting Tempation Soundtrack – Rain Down, Time to Come Home, Beyonce’s Swing Down Sweet Chariot, and the best – He Still Loves Me.

    Lot’s of love, hugs, and prayers…

  10. fiona apple, the one where she says ‘what would an angel say, the devil wants to know’ and ‘I got my feet on the ground and I don’t go to sleep to dream’
    pj harvey, album-rid of me
    verve, album-storm in heaven- always soothes me
    oh, and search richard cheese on you tube, my fave is baby got back- always sure to cheer me up… if that’s what I/you want. just be warned it is definitely not safe for young ears,,, 🙂

  11. Lately Mumford & Sons is doing it for me when I am down, happy, or whatever. Adele is a good one too. Back in the day it was Alanis Morrisette, but since i am a country girl, a little George Strait or George Jones can always bring me down a bit more than I thought I could go.

    Thoughts and prayers for you and your family.

  12. Alex, I’m sorry to read that you’re down and that your family is having a rough time.

    For the music question: I recently watched the documentary, Music Instinct, Science and Song (it’s on Netflix) and I was fascinated by how music really affects our brains. It also brought to light that Bobby McFerrin is actually kind of a musical genius, even though I always think of that song, Don’t Worry, Be Happy, when I think of him. I’ve added him to my Pandora stations, and I’m really enjoying the results.

    I think it depends on what you want to feel. Are you looking for something to make you feel better? Feeling introspective? Want to submerge in your grief? I am not one who generally turns to music for soothing my emotions, but it might help to pick some music that goes with what you want to feel, rather than how you currently feel, unless they are the same.

    Now that I think about it, The Cure is good for morose. System of a Down is good for angry.

  13. David Gray, Eddie Vedder, or Norah Jones if I want something to match a melancholy mood.

    Much, much more often I need something to match an angry mood. For that, there’s Amy Winehouse, Indigo Girls (weird, I know, and totally not my usual style, but those are two angry women!), The Doors, Nirvana.

    If all that fails, you just call me and wail in my ear. I’ll listen.

    I’m sorry it’s so hard right now.

  14. Sarah McLachlan, Ben Folds Five, Blues Traveler, Elton John, Dave Matthews, Indigo Girls….

    Thinking of you guys.

  15. I really like Florence and the Machine, Sia, Death Cab for cutie, any of the sound tracts from the Twilight sage (its actually really good music) and Adele when I’m down. I have been listening to a lot of these since late May,in fact my 2 year old sings along with most of Florence and the Machine’s songs even ones I don’t want him to (Kiss with a Fist).

    I hope everything gets better, I’m know what you mean abut not wanting to write. Writing means focus and focus means dealing with the problems and why deal with problems when you can just pretend like there is nothing wrong?

    Also Glee marathon 1st season on Netflix 2nd season on Hulu plus, yep I totally did that!

    Anyway get better and if you need anything let me know.

  16. I get in the car and head somewhere–anywhere, really–and I listen to Alanis Morrissette’s Jagged Little Pill album start to finish, including the creepy stalker bonus track on the end.

    That album is catharsis. There is anger. There is pain. There is confusion. There is acceptance. And at the end, in a weird sort of way, there’s some love.

    Don’t Stop Believin’ by Journey doesn’t hurt, either.

  17. Pink floyd, The Smiths, Neko Case, Oasis, Radiohead.

    The Verve’s Urban Hymns album gets played over and over.

    I hope everything works out for you. Nothing but prayers and best wishes on my end.

  18. First off, are you on Grooveshark? Go get yourself signed up. It’s fantastic. You can listen to whole albums for free and it’s totally legal. I don’t know how, but it’s amazing. Lately, I have been addicted to Vampire Weekend. They are fun but, caution – they do use some naughty words sometimes, so maybe not the best for the kidlets. I also really love Coconut Records (which is Jason Shwartzman. (Yes the kid from the movies) AND She and Him which is Zoey Deschanel. It’s all kind of sad and happy. If you send me a DM on twitter or through here, we can be friends on Grooveshark, and we can swap playlists, but I’m not putting my info here. Hope this helps!

    Oh and PS – when I’m REALLY down, I just say “Eff it.” and go on a Johnny Cash/Hank Williams Sr. bender.

  19. Music has always played a huge roll in my life.

    Soon after my parents died, I created a playlist of family favorites and other soothing / melancholy tunes that I’ve grown to love over the years.

    Usually it helps to listen it.

    Sometimes it makes me happy thinking back on good memories and often, as you can imagine, it makes me sad and I’ll have a really good cry.

    The play list is called “Amazing Grace” and that song is included. The playlist also includes: “In My Life”, “Falling or Flying”, and “Keep Breathing”.

    Whatever you and your family is going through, I hope it soon passes.

  20. Being from the South, it’s unusual that I really don’t like country music as much as it’s stereotyped that we do, especially during melancholy times. However, I’ve got 2 different types of music that I’ve used, depending on what I wanted to do… process or escape. For processing, the Black album by Pearl Jam. For escaping, I’m a Parrothead and will crank up the Jimmy Buffet classics, best accompanied by boat drinks and in this weather you could also pull off sitting in the kiddie pool, too. Here’s to happier times, may they find you soon!

  21. Alex, I’m sorry for whatever you are going through. Perhaps more appropriate for more minor stresses and worries, but this week my husband gave me Dolly Parton’s “Better Day” which is sweetly and meaningfullly inspirational. She wrote it because of all the disparate grief-inducing events happening around the world and wanting to provide a little solace.

  22. A lot of the stuff that I listen to has been mentioned…
    Sarah MacLaughlin… Landslide is a great one…

    I have had a rough year myself (although it sounds like you guys may be going through more than needing a break from my job and losing my grandmother). Green Day’s new album has been my music of choice, along with the Across the Universe Soundtrack (Beatles songs from the movie), and I have also pulled out my old Cranberries favorites (especially Zombie).

  23. When I’m feeling down I’m such a Weepy Willie that I can’t listen to sad music because it then turns me into the hottest of messes–crying in the car is one of my specialties. I just usually need quiet.

    Have been thinking an awful lot about you and and I pray that things, whatever they may be, turn around soon for you and that you feel God’s strength in persevering through it all.

  24. I’m sorry to hear you are down. Sending you lots of good thought and hugs.

    I like to listen to country music when I am down. Not sure if that helps you or not but I like it.

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