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What Music Are You Listening to These Days?

What Music Are You Listening To?

Over the last few weeks, the same thing keeps happening…

Nearly every call or meeting on my calendar gets cancelled at the last minute. In every case, the person has cited “personal reasons,” with varying degrees of detail. The honesty felt both refreshing (I’m not alone!) and disheartening (everyone is having a hard time). The truth is, while the schedule changes are frustrating, in nearly every case, I’ve been relieved. In many ways, it seems we’re all in need of solace that the world isn’t offering.

But, along with deep breaths and warm beverages and occasional walks in the sun, one small thing has helped.

Right around the election, I made a playlist called “Joyous Day” — on a day that was decidedly not joyous — in the hopes I might trick my brain into believing I felt good. There are songs like “Don’t Stop (Thinkin’ About Tomorrow)” by Fleetwood Mac and “This is the Day,” by The The, which promise change is on the horizon, along with ridiculous tunes like “The Final Countdown” by Europe (also known as “that song G.O.B. from Arrested Development plays when he performs his magic“). I listen to it in the morning, as I’m brushing my teeth or drying my hair, and though it doesn’t change my immediate circumstances nor those of the world around me, it injects a little sliver of absurd positivity into my day.

This morning, a friend who got the vaccine texted me to say she was listening to “Found a Cure,” by Ashford & Simpson, a hopeful anthem for today.

Though we’ve known it for centuries, research now supports that music has the ability to soothe frazzled nerves and lift sagging spirits. Listening to music (particularly classical) can actually impact the body’s stress response, while upbeat music is sometimes suggested as a way to help lessen anxiety and depression, and even physical pain.

If anything, I feel a little silly that I’ve gone this long without creating dedicated playlists for various moods. I’ve turned to music to help me through long runs, keep me alert during giant tasks, and get psyched up before big events, so why not on a random Tuesday? To quote Dumbledore, “Ah, music. A magic beyond all we do here!” Right now, I’ll take all the magic I can get.

To that end, I’d love to hear what music you’ve been turning to these days. What do you listen to when you need a pick-me-up, or to help you calm down? Are there any songs that help you feel better?

P.S. Tiny anchors and what’s on your workout playlist?

(Photo by Michela Ravasio/Stocksy.)

  1. this is so cool. Thanks for sharing this

  2. Lilian Fields says...

    I just came across an article about the music director of Thamee, an award-winning Burmese restaurant in DC, who released a playlist of over four hundred songs that he used to choose the music for the restaurant. It’s great, and it has the vibe of eating-out-at-a-really-cool-restaurant. Here’s an article about the restaurant and the playlist, with a link:

    https://blog.resy.com/2020/11/at-thamee-music-has-always-been-an-essential-part-of-the-restaurant-magic/

  3. Kim Burdett says...

    Crowded Table by the Highwomen. It makes me long for our post-vaccine world. Highly recommend.

  4. Ellen says...

    Great music to work to (lady musicians too!):

    Khruangbin
    Japanese Breakfast
    Soccer Mommy (Color Theory album)

  5. Rediscovering my love for Filipino music and have been binge watching music videos on YouTube. The latest music I heard is Yearly by Ex Battalion.

  6. Donna says...

    I have been listening to Don Thomas; lovely acoustic guitar, melodies intended to be soothing. When I put on his CDs, I can immediately feel the tension washing away. I have his four seasons CDs: Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winter, and I put all four on and listen to hours of his gorgeous music. I will try to put a link here: https://donthomas.com/ I highly recommend him for anyone who needs some calming music! PS Thanks for some great suggestions above!

  7. Heather says...

    Early on in lockdown, I was missing friends and family (like everyone else) and decided to make a playlist for everyone, using the #1 billboard song on their birthday from birth to now. Some, like my 13 year old niece were familiar pop songs. Others, like my 87 year old grandmothers were songs I had never heard of (and went beyond billboard recording of #1’s. I had as much fun creating the playlists as I did sending them out to everyone. It was a great walk down a musical memory lane and sparked a lot of great conversations!

    • Nora says...

      I love that idea!

  8. Marnie says...

    I’ve been enjoying the 70s playlists on Spotify…so many great songs

  9. Seraphim says...

    For feeling elevated by an entire album:
    Paganini: After A Dream – Regina Carter
    Secret Story – Pat Metheny

    For feeling joy from a single song:
    Lovely Day -Bill Withers
    Tuesday Heartbreak – Stevie Wonder
    really anything by Stevie Wonder, he finds joy in all of it.

  10. Maria says...

    Lately I’m listening to Sade, Maxwell, classical music and music that makes me feel zen 😉

  11. Martha Patterson says...

    For some reason, when spring and sunnier days hit, I find I reach for retro tunes, the music my parents listened to when I was a kid…Herb Albert, Burt Bacharach, The 5th Dimension, Andy Williams…and 60’s folk music…the Limelighters, Brothers Four, Kingston Trio, Peter Paul and Mary….comforting, nostalgic and soothing.

  12. Reina says...

    Harry Styles!!! ❤️

  13. Jenica says...

    What a great post – I’ve been enjoying checking out people’s recommendations. I love this topic, and there’s nothing I love more than discovering an amazing new song/album that I can’t get enough of, and sharing it with my friends and family.

    As a twenty nine year old, music not only transports me out of myself in the moment, but it has also become a marker of time and places throughout my life. Certain songs take me back to elementary (Hit Me Baby One More Time), junior high (Yeah – Usher) high school (Sexy Back – JT). When I met my now-husband at the age of nineteen, his deep reverence for music showed me a whole new world beyond what the radio fed me. We would go for long drives together and ventured through all the John Mayer, Death Cab, and Bon Iver albums. To this day the self titled Bon Iver album is one of my all time favorites (recommend listening to in-order and LOUD).

    A few of my emphatic recommendations from the past year include:
    – Alicia Keys’ Tiny Desk Concert – I randomly put this on in the background while working (another) late night. I have never been a huge fan of her music, but watching this concert, I was immediately uplifted by her spirit. She is POWERFUL and I was brought to tears by the end when she sang Fallin’.
    – HAIM’s Women in Music Pt. III was my album of this summer. You can easily throw this on and listen all the way through – over and over.
    – Taylor Swift’s Folklore was a close second for album of this summer
    – Red Garland’s Piano – perfect jazzy background music for working
    – Ludovico Einaudi’s In a Time Lapse album. He is an incredible pianist, I love listening to the first several songs of this album (in order) while working. Make sure you listen to the song “Life” and let it sweep you away
    – You’ve Got Mail soundtrack – the first song “Butterflies in the Subway” gives me Toy Story vibes, need I say more?
    – Lake Street Dive – this band is so talented, and the lead singer, Rachael Price’s vocals are other-worldly.

    • Roberta Melo says...

      Alicia Keys’ Tiny Desk Concert Is pure magic !

  14. CG says...

    Rooftop Dancing – Sylvan Esso
    Interstellar Love – The Avalanches
    Anything – Adrienne Lenker

  15. Meri says...

    Most Tuesdays, I try to go to Happy Hour via Zoom hosted by an L.A. based organization, Salastina. The Happy Hour is free, although they happily accept donations to pay musicians. So far, I’ve discovered a jazz harpist, Hilary Hahn, a violist, etc. I highly recommend it!

  16. D says...

    I’m loving all of these music recs! Definitely been listening to a lot of Waxahatchee “St. Cloud”… probably my favorite album this past year.

    I’ve got a question and would love some input. Does anybody have album recommendations to have on in the background when you have a friend over for dinner and don’t want it to be distracting, but also want to have a good vibe? For some reason I always stress about this… thanks so much!

    • Gilly says...

      I put on Amy Winehouse, Lana del Rey, or Ella Fitzgerald. I have a small but growing collection of records and I like(d, in the before times) to ask people to pick one out and put it on while I finished in the kitchen. People are funny, so I feel like giving them a choice is a nice thing to do. Like, I think Miles Davis is great dinner music, but some people just haaaaaate jazz the way some people just hate cilantro, haha

    • Whitney says...

      Great question. Me, too!

  17. J says...

    I have a Spotify playlist of songs that were released over the last year (or thereabouts) that I call the Quarantine Mix. I didn’t plan for the mix to have a specific mood—these were just recent songs I enjoyed by artists I love—but boy does it make me FEEL FEELINGS whenever I put it on.

    Here they Come by Hamilton Leithauser
    Blinding Lights by The Weeknd
    On the Floor by Perfume Genius
    Hallelujah by HAIM
    Lightning Fields by The Killers
    Spotlight by Jessie Ware
    Exile by Taylor Swift and Bon Iver
    Chinatown by Bleachers and Bruce Springsteen

  18. ABC says...

    Since this is a judgment-free zone, I’ll chime in:

    In early March, my “pod” and I rented a house in Sea Ranch, California (a few hours drive from us), and the four of us (all adults) ate mushrooms and lounged around listening to Vivaldi. It was PURE MAGIC.

    Now, I’ve been listening to Vivaldi while walking around the neighborhood (not tripping, ha!) and it brings me right back to that magical moment. It makes life seem BIG.

    • SP says...

      I love this!

  19. Anne says...

    Indie Summer playlist on Amazon Music is on repeat lately, giving me the summer vibes! Discovered favorite from the playlist is Thunder Clatter’s “Wild Club” – such a fun, dances, song!

  20. M says...

    Been listening to ABBA lately on my morning commute because it fills me with unadulterated joy and I CANNOT HELP but smile. I’m not even a huge fan and feel so goofy jamming in my car, but it sure is a huge serotonin boost.
    I’ve also started a personal “Funk Fridays” tradition that has drastically improved my “just slog through it” mood.

  21. Lilian Fields says...

    This list, originally from Buzzfeed, introduced me to so many artists I didn’t know about before. It’s called “24 Songs You Missed This Year That You Need To Add To Your Playlist.” The title was totally accurate! I did miss these songs! And I did need to add them to my playlist!

    Original post is here, with link to spotify playlist at the bottom:

    https://www.buzzfeed.com/adaenechi/songs-you-missed-2020

  22. anne says...

    Bomba Estereo’s new “Aloha” – and really all of her songs. Can’t help but feel more happy and energetic! <3

  23. Karin says...

    I discovered that E.L.O., a band I barely noticed in my teen years when they were big, is the most happy, uplifting music! I’ve listened to all of their albums and it’s pure joy.

    My husband and I also put on “70s singer-songwriter” playlist on Apple Music and alternate between smiling and sobbing at so many memories.

    When I wanna get work done, I listen to either Beastie Boys or Swans.

  24. AMK says...

    I created a playlist filled with any song that gives me the same feeling after sipping some kava or that sweet spot you get when you feel buzzed. My playlist is my therapy and it soothes my soul. This one is one of my favorites. Khruangbin is AMAZING!!!!!

    A Calf Born In Winter:
    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=My2q6F0Dprk

  25. Amy says...

    During this season of the pandemic, I’ve had this absurd obsession with music from The Bee Gees, often playing while I apply for jobs. My partner would walk in on me, singing along while I pound out cover letters (“How deep is your love, how deep is your love / I really meaaaaaaaaan to learn!”), and he would tip toe out of the room and be like “okayyyy nevermind.” Sorry, not sorry!!!

  26. Sara says...

    To me, the ultimate pick me up music is Queen! It never fails me. I actually heard recently that “Don’t stop me now” has been voted the single most likely to make you happy song in the history of music. I couldn’t agree more! I’m a shooting star leaping through the skyyyyyyyyyyy!

  27. Sheila says...

    Freshly Ground’s “Gimme Hope Jo’Anna” is an upbeat anti apartheid song that helps puts things in perspective and keeps me going.

  28. Danielle says...

    Looks like I’ve been in good company with my constant rotation of Waxahatchee and Phoebe Bridgers. To that I would add:
    -My husband’s Spotify which is 95% John Prine, Tom Petty, Neil Young and the Rolling Stones.

    -Lo-fi hip hop for romantic times

    -90’s playlists for cocktails in the kitchen

    -haven’t seen anyone else mention so I wanted to add Andy Shauf’s Neon Skyline. I love that each song has a common thread. It definitely takes me back to a not too distant time when I would go to bars just to run into people I know, smoke cigarettes and drink cheap beer. I can almost feel my sweaty legs stuck to a cheap plastic chair.

  29. Deana says...

    Mostly smooth jazz, but also the following albums:
    Phosphene Dream – The Black Angels
    Raven in the Grave – The Raveonettes
    Painted Ruins – Grizzly Bear

  30. Hayley says...

    Always love a good cover and I’ve been listening to a lot of good ones lately!

    -Recently discovered Marika Hackman, via a good friend, and I’ve been super into her covers album – highly recommend!

    -“This Will Be Our Year” The Zombies cover by Lowland Hum is so good!

    -Julia Jacklin covering The Strokes’ “Someday”

    -Also been listening to a lot of Jesus and Mary Chain (Darklands album)

    • Amy says...

      I second Julia Jacklin’s cover of “Someday”!

  31. Lena says...

    – Close to me by Frédéric Magnon – from Netflix French show The Hook Up Plan (don’t think it’s on Spotify but is on Apple Music)

    – Sleeping at Last by Saturn – it is sad song but I can’t get enough of it, someone in YouTube comments said “This song should be the closing remarks when our world ends.” CHILLS

    – Manchester band Hurts is so underrated, amazing songs (Stay, Wings, Somebody to Die For, Wonderful Life, Illuminated), new album came out last year (Redemption, All I Have to Give). Their videos are incredible.

  32. I made playlists of upbeat songs to listen to when I was in labor with each of my kids. With my younger son, the song “Shut Up and Dance” by Walk the Moon was all I ended up wanting to hear. I listened to it on repeat for hours and it helped me get through it! I still like it and my four year old whose birth song it is likes it too :)

  33. Laura says...

    The other night my 13 year old daughter and I drew the short straw and had to clean up a GIANT mess in the kitchen (my son and husband got to walk the dog on a lovely spring night!). She was REALLY whining until I said “You pick the music- play whatever you want and turn it up LOUD!” We danced and washed and cleaned and completely forgot what a massive task we had ahead of us. And when “Driver’s License” came on and we belted it out it felt really, really good. We have always played music in our family– but never has it felt so good to show her how much music can improve almost anything you are doing. It was a Covid season win. We needed one. :)

  34. Sarah says...

    These bands have been on my rotating playlist. Some are old some are newer:
    -Waxahatchee
    -Better Oblivion Community Center
    -Phoebe Bridgers
    -Silver Jews (still so hauntingly good)
    -St. Vincent – love all her albums
    -Loretta Lynn – Val Lear Rose (album with Jack White from many years ago that’s so good)
    -Love me some Brittany Howard and Alabama Shakes
    -Shovels and Rope are so fun – love all their albums
    -Johnny Cash
    -Josh Ritter
    -Uncle Tupelo (band from late 90’s/early 2000’s split to form Wilco and Sun Volt – pioneers of some of the best alt country)
    -Rodrigo and Gabriela
    -The Civil Wars
    -Jason Isbell

  35. Liz says...

    Lately, I’ve been putting on Tom Petty’s “Wildflowers.” I don’t know if it’s the California Poppies blooming or my garden sprouting new growth, but even in our yearlong quarantine lifestyle, this song springs new hope in me, and I feel a sense of calm and quiet joy. Even my toddler allows it- he must sense the joy it brings.

  36. Shannon says...

    We’ve been listening to playlists from significant years in mine and my spouse’s life. It’s been a lot of fun to share these songs and our memories with our daughter.

  37. Claire says...

    Michael Kiwanuka, Liane La Havas, Allen Stone (had the absolute pleasure of seeing him live and it was maybe even better than the albums… dying to get back to an intimate music venue)
    Lucius
    Matt Anderson… and Bruce Springsteen :)
    Fleetwood Mac
    Of course Stevie Wonder (also saw live, what a legend)

    • Kate says...

      Yes Michael Kiwanuka sooooo good

  38. Denise says...

    Dope Lemon! My roommate was playing it the other night and it’s just so chill in a very cool way. Makes me feel super hip lol. Also I second another reader’s suggestion on the new Lana Del Rey. And last but not least, I go back to the Big Little Lies soundtrack from season one. The music is sooooo good! Thinking about these three suggestions and they are all very chill – I guess that’s my current vibe ha ha!

  39. Jennifer says...

    I just switched from listening to podcasts on my boring daily walks to shuffling my music library – WHAT A DIFFERENCE. Way more bounce in my step!

  40. I spent most of covid building a massive playlist called My Soundtrack which is just filled with memory evoking songs dating as far back as my first music video at age 3 (Billy Joel’s The Longest Time) to getting ready for 7th grade listening to Prince on my purple clock radio to college bar cover bands and dancing all night. Making it, I was easily able to pinpoint the transitions from listening mostly to the radio to mostly full CDs or albums to the prevalence of streaming services (liking less full albums and more singles). I arranged it chronologically so I can listen to it on shuffle or straight through. It’s fun to see where each song takes me. I also like Spotify’s Wake Up Happy list to start the day off.

  41. Christine says...

    Fleet Foxes new album Shore is such soothing, restorative and uplifting music. Perfect for these COVID times. They say music is like medicine, this album has a great deal of healing power.

    • Heather says...

      Yess!! Wading in Waist-High Water is one of my favorite songs of the year – I could listen to it endlessly – completely agree.

  42. Amy says...

    Trapped in Sunbeams – Arlo Parks’s beautiful debut album.
    Chemtrails over the Country Club – new Lana Del Rey
    The Amelie film soundtrack (and then the beautiful random songs Spotify serves up after) for my 3yo’s bedtime.
    Then! We have limited restrictions in South Australia so the other night I sang Robyn “Dancing on my own” at a karaoke birthday and, my gosh, that is SUCH a karaoke song! So my son and I have been singing that and Justice “D.A.N.C.E.” To each other in the car and at bath time. X

  43. tina crisas says...

    I recently came across the soundtrack from the movie “Drive” and have fallen back in love with it again. It’s so funny when my four year old claims that Kavinsky’s “Night Call” is her favourite song, sounds so weird, haha!

    Chromeo, for something funky and fun, and the fact that the lead band member is hot AND incredibly smart (lecturer, phd candidate at Colombia) makes me weak.

    Before that, lots of 80’s, (the cars, etc.)

    My four year old is obsessed with: “In this together” by Ellie Goulding which she heard from the documentary Our Planet, we watch this to wind down to (before that it was anything Elvis, 80’s, some country haha, 70’s, we’re a mixed bag here)

  44. Caitlin says...

    Jacob Collier! Mostly Djesse Vol 2, but really all of his songs. It’s so genius you have to listen a million times to catch everything he’s doing

  45. J says...

    It’s Eurovision season, and I’ve been listening to the Eurovision 2021 playlist on Spotify on repeat and LOVING it! So many good songs :) And watching the music videos on YouTube makes it even more uplifting – so great, so bizarre, and a good dose of joyous irreverence that feels so needed right now. I would particularly recommend Malta’s entry “Je me casse” for a delightful living room dance party.