In our Nov. 8 issue, we're publishing a collection of protest songs for the Trump era. These are songs selected by alt-weekly writers around the country that inspire action and resistance in a tumultuous political climate. But to keep up the strength to fight, you need to take care of yourself. So here's an alternative playlist, one that focuses more on what songs have helped comfort, console and chill out local writers and activists in the past year.
Taking action is the best way to fight all the wrongs, but that doesn't account for emotional care. Coping mechanisms for the past year have ranged from before-noon drinking to putting phones on airplane mode just to get reprieve from the hellscape. And as in all times of national chaos, we turn to music for answers and comfort. City Paper asked local artists, writers and activists, as well as our own staff, about one song that helped them through the turbulence which might help keep us sane for whatever fresh fights lie ahead.
My own pick is "Slip Away," by Perfume Genius. It didn't come out until a couple months after the inauguration, but when it did, it felt like a doctor's order to listen to it often. The track is exuberant and alive, bursting like an overripe fruit. It's a reminder about all that we can and should feel, despite the government's attempt to hurt us and/or everyone we love.
"Don't Hurt Yourself" by Beyonce featuring Jack White
This song reminds me to embrace my feminine power during a time of disregard and contempt for women's autonomy.
"Europe Is Lost" by Kate Tempest
A wonderfully crafted contemporary hip-hop song, with grit and bite, wit and an ocean's worth of feelings. Brilliant songwriting, and socially conscious.
"Come Down" by Anderson .Paak
To me, it's about exuding cool confidence and staying on top of your game and not getting dragged down by other people's bullshit. Using adversity as a motivator to show 'em that I'm not going anywhere, that I'm still out here and doing my thing bigger and better than ever, feels super crucial, and for me, this song speaks to that.
"I" by Perfect Pussy
I've got a whole arsenal of pissed-off songs for the year, but the raw energy of "I" by Perfect Pussy reminds me to persist and self-actualize the goodness I want to see and spread in the world to counteract the fuckery and evil that pervades it. Repeat after me: "I am full of light, I am filled with joy, I am full of peace."
"To be a Ghost …" by Jeff Rosenstock
You know that friend who warns you about a terrible thing that you don't think will actually happen? That friend was Jeff Rosenstock, and WORRY. was his masterpiece. No song captures the waking nightmare of being alive online quite like "To Be a Ghost," and to think this came out BEFORE the election. Nothing's sounded better since.
"Weakling" by Swans
Looking at the lyrics here (“This isn’t real” repeated close to 15 times, etc.), it’s tempting to connect this to a sort of fingers-in-ears denial about Trump’s win and the year that followed. But for me, the appeal is in just how deep and heavy this shit feels. The horror-movie lyrics provide some nice escapism, but the overall effect just makes me feel energized and super pissed off. In a good way.