We all know how anxiety feels and right now, it feels like we are all on a field trip to the land of Nerve-ia. (Poor puns end here.) There are just so many triggers – anxiety caused by uncertainty, regrets, anxiety from feeling like an imposter. It’s hard, but it’s human to have a response to these triggers, and it’s okay.
While the phrase “adjusting to the new normal” has been repeated endlessly since March, it’s easier said than done. How do you adjust to an ever-changing situation where the “new normal” is indefinite uncertainty? It was easier to cope with the urgency in the beginning, but how do we continue to adapt now when we know this situation is indefinitely chronic? Everyone is dealing with loss right now. A lot of people are unfortunately having to deal with physical loss, but every single person, no matter where in the world is dealing with intangible, ambiguous loss of a ‘way of life’. It is perhaps the inability to meet family and friends, loss of trust in our government, personal freedom to move about in our everyday lives, education, career advances, rituals such as graduations, and funerals, and even lesser rituals, such as going to gym or coffee shops.
Over the years, I have found myself repeatedly reaching out to some music tracks in moments of unease. I usually search for them individually, and have my favorite artist versions of each, but once in a while I also stumble upon other artist interpretations which add a new, sometimes, better flavour to the originals. Of course, there are other amazing tracks too, but the ones listed below have seldom failed to validate whatever it is that I am feeling. Tucked within these tracks that deal with anxiety are a few tracks about hope and feeling better and stressing less because in real life sometimes in the midst of feeling terrible, we get a moment when we feel alright, a moment of respite when somehow we manage to forget whatever it is that’s on our mind before it all comes back again.
Disclaimer – This playlist is not going to help you feel better. However, it will validate your feelings because all these great artists felt the same way you do and used their feelings to make some incredible music. I hope you enjoy this as much as I do.
I’ve put together a Spotify playlist consisting of these tracks, just to keep everything in one place. Here’s the link to the Spotify Playlist
Jumping onto the details of the track list now. I have included YouTube links below to showcase where I go for both aural and visual gratification.
1. Dark was the night, Cold was the ground – Blind Willie Johnson
This is a song that the aliens will light a cigarette to. Read on to know why.
Found a really cool titbit when reading about this song – When Voyager 1 probe was launched in September 1977, a phonograph disc called the Golden Record carrying the “murmurs of earth” was put in it. This disc carried messages from humanity in 55 different languages, animal calling sounds, natural sounds of thunder, surf, tribal songs, encrypted photographs of humans, for the benefit of any civilization that might eventually encounter the craft. The choices made by the committee which was led by astrophysicist Carl Sagan, included the usual Bach, Beethoven, Mozart, but there was also this marvelous but odd piece, recorded in 1927 by Blind Willie Johnson. “Dark Was the Night, Cold Was the Ground”, adapted from an 18th-century hymn, is wordless, consisting only of Johnson’s slide guitar and his resonant, gospelly, moaning hum. Carl Sagan likened it to launching a message in a bottle into the “cosmic ocean.”
It is amazing to contemplate this starry destiny for Blind Willie’s music, since during his life he seemed the most earthbound of men. He was born into poverty in Texas, blinded as a very young child, and spent the later years of his life in nearly total obscurity, playing his breathtaking music for strangers on small-town street corners, and then died a lonely death. Yet now, his music sails among the stars.