Last night, I had nearly completed my list of songs that would make up today’s Spotify Sixteen. As usual, I had planned a mix of current songs, discussion on upcoming events, and the like to discuss. I went to bed, ready to finalize this playlist upon waking up in the morning.
Then I woke up to the news. Fifty people last night were murdered by an extremist with hatred in his heart. At this moment, fifty plus extra people are in the hospital fighting for their lives. On top of that, hundreds of family members and friends are going through hell right now, either dealing with the loss of a loved one, or fearing that their loved one will not survive. My thoughts and prayers are with those affected by this cruel and senseless tragedy.
My first thought was that the playlist was insignificant in comparison to the violence and awfulness in the news. For a minute, I considered not doing any posts today. After further consideration, however, I felt that it’s at these most painful times that music is needed the most.
Music has the power to be a healing agent like no other. It has the power to not only affect the mind, but the heart. If you’re like me, both are in need of healing right now. The songs I have selected I feel offer some level of either hope, joy, or comfort in listening to them. I can’t promise that this playlist will ease your pain to any degree. I can only offer it up in hopes that it brings a slim ray of sunshine in this day.
- Rahim Quazi, “Relax, Believe”
Sometimes the message that’s hardest to hear is the one that’s needed the most at the time. Yet I feel that the message of this song is the right one to begin the playlist.
- Ellen Once Again, “Spreading the Love”
Because really, this is what needs to be spread right now.
- Flickerstick, “Lift”
There are two key lines in the chorus here: “We’re running out of time/With love we will survive”. It’s easy in moments like these to feel the first line more intensely. Yet the most important message is in the latter line. It is only through focusing on love of our fellow man, and not hate, that we can survive.
- Menkena, “With You I’ll Travel”
There’s a definite calming quality to this song, which is why I felt the need to select this song.
- Rude King, “Helping Hand”
Reason #1 I selected this song: I think in times of sadness like this, we need to reach out to one another to get through the pain. Reason #2: the horns in this song sound like sunshine personified. That’s the power of ska, baby!
- Andrew Tinker, “I Can’t Do It Alone”
This song blends together the idea of hope and optimism along with the need of the help of others (a theme expressed in the previous song). Plus, this melody is simply beautiful.
- The Polyphonic Spree, “Light & Day/Reach for the Sun”
How can you not do a playlist like this and not include The Spree?
- Salim Nourallah, “Stranger in My Own Skin”
On the surface, this song may seem an odd fit for a playlist centered around hope and joy? Overall, this is an odd pick. Yet there’s one line in this song that resonates intensely with me: “We spend our whole lives, never knowing anybody. Don’t spend your whole life, never knowing anybody”. Sometimes a tragic event helps put priorities in perspective. So I urge you to take Salim’s advice.
- Abra Moore, “Four Leaf Clover”
This 90’s track is nearly a perfect blend of acknowledging the imperfections of life while holding on to a hopeful message. And for me, those are the songs that are capable of bringing the most joy, because they’re the most honest.
- Gaston Light, “Wake Up and Fight”
Jason Corcoran said of this song that he wrote it to “force hope into [his] life”. I say this because I don’t want the message in the context of this playlist to be a message of fighting in anger or violence, but the fight to bring hope into this life we lead.
- Chomsky, “00:15:00”
While it’s not always possible to be happy, I think that there’s a beauty to the line “I am only happy when it’s possible.” So take a few minutes (15, 10, 5), rock out a little, and try to feel a little happiness.
- Emmeline, “Down”
If ever a local song deserved the description of “defiant optimism”, this is that song. This is one of my ultimate “comfort food” songs. There’s plenty of sad imagery in this song (“Turn hurt into an ocean and try like hell not to drown), yet the overall message is one of hope in spite of all the sadness and pain.
- The Roomsounds, “Couldn’t Break My Spirit”
I’ll just let the song title speak for itself.
- The Gourds, “Gin and Juice”
Go ahead. Put on your frown while listening to this hillbillified version of Snoop Dogg. I dare you to keep that frown on your face. I Double Dogg dare you. Yes, I went there.
- Poppy Xander, “Don’t Keep Calm”
I’d argue this song is more about the idea of rejecting the status quo of how we lead our lives. It’s encouraging us to stand up to the injustices in this lifetime. It’s a message of standing with those who have been treated unfairly, discriminated against, and persecuted. It’s a message of fighting to change what is wrong. That’s a message we all need to hear and heed.
- Dezi 5, “Lose Control”
Finally, I choose this song, though this one’s not really about the lyrics. If the shooter’s message was one of hatred towards the LGBTQ community (which it undoubtedly was), then what better way to give to give the figurative middle finger to his message than to end this playlist with the openly gay Dez Lehman pumping out a killer dance tune?
I realize this is The Ghost getting preachy, something I almost never do on the blog. Still, I felt the need to do it for myself, and to try to put out a message of love and acceptance for all. I do hope the music brings you a little joy, and above all, I hope it helps you bring some love into your mind and heart to share with others.
Finally, let me say to all the musicians, friends, and everyone who has supported me in this local music endeavor, thank you and I love you all.
P.S. I accidentally forgot the actual Spotify widget. My bad. Here you go.