Songs that take you to your happy place because maybe you need it this week.
LIN-MANUEL MIRANDA AND LESLIE ODOM JR. – “Dear Theodosia” – as described by loralee sepsey
The morning after I was sitting in the NACC listening to music and this song came on shuffle. It made me cry.
The events of last week made me worry for the future of our generations, my children, my grandchildren. Will they have clean water and air? Will they be able to go to college or receive health care? Will they feel comfortable in who they are? Will they be afraid? Will they be okay?
This song reminded me, personally, what my motivations are. To make the world safe and sound for my family. To build a strong foundation for my future children’s identities, self-esteem, livelihoods. To make it right for them. To pass onto them a world that they, too, can make better, with the tools I can afford to them. The world won’t end if we don’t allow it to.
GROUPER – “Heavy Water/I’d Rather Be Sleeping” – as described by ena alvarado
“I often picture releasing an album as trying to secretly sink a heavy object in a lake.” Liz Harris told this to interviewers at Dummy upon the release of her newest record, Ruins. I think this analogy is true of her work and the experience of absorbing it as well, though. It certainly captures the way I feel when I listen to her heart-rending, soul-crushing songs. Grouper is for us dreamers, and there is little else to say except I wish water could move me too.
FLEET FOXES – “Blue Ridge Mountains” – as described by nick burns
Always been my favorite Fleet Foxes song. Takes you in, wraps you in a blanket, you’re in a log cabin in the Blue Ridge and the pain’s still there but it’s mystical now, grander than the worldly thing it was before. You’re a child again wandering through a pine forest in the autumn. This always was Fleet Foxes’ greatest talent: not second-rate existential philosophizing (cf. Helplessness Blues) but their ability to make you forget about your life and instead feel nostalgic for a life you never led—the life, say, of a peasant in the English countryside. “Terrible am I, child,” Pecknold apologizes. “Even if you don’t mind.”
BIG BOI (FEAT. RAEKWON & ANDRÉ 3000) – “Royal Flush” – as described by ned hardy
A Tribe Called Quest just put out their first new record in 18 years, which gives me some (tiny) glimmer of hope that, someday, we’ll get another Outkast release. For now, though, we have “Royal Flush” — a standalone Big Boi single released in 2008 that never made it onto a proper album. It’s always sounded great, but it sounds better than ever in light of recent events. Big Boi and Raekwon (!!) spend a couple of minutes trading razor-sharp bars (“impeach the president ‘cause he don’t think before he talk”) over an expertly-chopped Isley Brothers sample, but it’s André 3000, as per usual, who swoops in to steal the show, gracing us with what might be his best verse ever. Church is in service: “Styles will change / They say change is dang… / …erous,” declares Three Stacks from the pulpit, going on to deliver a sermon that’s at once hilarious and chillingly morose. Too many brilliant bars to quote them all, so I’ll just leave you with this: “Crack and I have a lot in common / We both come up in the 80s and we keep the bass pumping.” That’s what it’s all about. 3000 out.
WET – “All the Ways” – as described by som-mai nguyen
The voice is aspirationally graceful — at peace, if not contentment. Breathy chirping over moody, luscious, lonely synths, drifting now and then into fuller, plaintive pleading: “You seem tired of my excuses, I’m so tired from all this losing.” Sounds like lounging around in white underwear and a Brooklyn loft while it drizzles outside.
NICO – ‘These Days’ – as described by angelica jopling
A thin, dark blanket has been drawn over Stanford’s sunlit campus in this past week, where feelings of fear and melancholy resonate deep within many of us. In uneasy times as these it is important not to pass off these uncomfortable emotions but to meditate on them and FEEL.
This playful melody will help you to stay afloat and hopefully find some light, whilst Nico’s poignant lyrics give way for contemplation and allows for you to feel righteously upset and make space for anger, shock, and sadness.
ODD FUTURE (FT. FRANK OCEAN) – “White” – as described by tess michaelson
With that melancholic beauty so often frequented by Frank Ocean, this song feels so good and quiet. It feels whole, and unwavering. Fresh and tender and also deeply blue, you are not sure whether you hold it, or it holds you.
LIZZO & CAROLINE SMITH – “Let ‘Em Say” – as described by nikki tran
All the comments on this music video are essentially some variation of: “NBA 2k17 brought me here.” Other weeks I’d be mad that a basketball video game was responsible for this girl-almighty anthem’s claim to fame, but in a time where I–self-proclaimed lactose intolerant–have eaten more quesadillas in the past five days than I have eaten in the entire year, it’s the only thing that has me still believing that it’s still possible to make the basket, beat the boss, level up. Game on.
A TRIBE CALLED QUEST – “Movin’ Backwards” – as described by anthony milki
Tribe’s return last Friday was incredibly timely and flat out an incredible piece of art. I didn’t know Jarobi could rap like he does on 2016’s iteration of Tribe, and nothing warms the heart more than old souls adapting to the direction contemporary artists are taking rap. This feels both like a Tribe track and Anderson .Paak track, and that’s a nice little miracle to pick half country up after what the other half did.
NICOLAS JAAR – “History Lesson” – as described by alejandra salazar
Healing leaves scars.
TALKING HEADS – “Don’t Worry About the Government” – as described by katie nesser
Walking the line between sincerity and satire, Talking Heads assure us that everything’s going to be okay. Anchored by Tina Weymouth’s plucky bass, David Byrne paints an picture of American society as utopia, where clouds and nature and cities exist peacefully, where civil servants work hard and try to be strong, where you can drop everything when your friends visit, because friends are important. It’s a world that existed no more in 1978, when the song was released, than it does today. The song is three minutes of escapism, of a world where we don’t have to worry about the government, or much of anything else. Byrne sounds convinced here, but it’s clear he does worry—we all do, and must. But sometimes, especially this week, we deserve three minutes of tranquility.
Image from here.