Politics are an area that I’ve always been reluctant to discuss on the blog. After all, this is a music blog, not a political one. With the level of vitriol being spread in our country right now, however, I feel that I cannot continue to stay silent. The level of racism and hate being spouted by both citizens and our leaders (most notably our President) is a cancer in our nation. For those who don’t succumb to the hate, it is easy to be swallowed by another cancer: despair.
As I said before though, I am just a music blog. I do not have any grand answers for the cure for our nation’s woes. There are those who will say I should just “stick to my job”, and that’s what I will do here. I know music. More importantly, I know the light that music can bring into the world. I’ve selected these songs that I feel are rays of hopes in what has been too dark of a world lately. As usual, these songs transcend lines of race, gender, and genre. Some of these are unabashedly joyous, while others hold a certain level of sadness within them. Ultimately, all of these songs give me hope, and I hope that they do the same for you as well.
“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” – Martin Luther King Jr.
- Jake Paleschic, “The Light”
I put out requests for songs of hope on various social media sites. Jake Paleschic responded back and offered up this song, though he questioned if it was “as succinct a message of hope” as I would be looking for. While this song my have dark overtones, and the vibe of this song is slightly moodier because of the minor key of the verses, it still emanates hope. In fact, it seems like the perfect starting place for this playlist, as we slowly start to find our way towards the light.
- Relick, “Today Sunshine”
While this choice is as much a love song as a song of hope, verses like “Today’s a good day for sunshine” helps this song feel right at home in this playlist.
- Christine Hand, “You’re Not Alone”
Adam Jones, Christine’s husband, suggested “Simple Life” might be a good selection for a song of hope. To be sure, there is hope in that song. I view it more as a true love song, even though it doesn’t fit the stereotypical overt romanticism of most love songs. As a song of hope and comfort, however, I’ve always connected more with “You’re Not Alone”. The song is like a true friend that acknowledges your pain, while working to comfort you.
- Bomethius, “Peace of Mind”
Peace is a concept that I’ve placed great value in. I’m not necessarily talking about the hippie-esque version of peace (though I like that as well), but more so the concept of internal peace. It’s also one of the hardest quests within life. This song mirrors much of that challenge. The final verses, “I won’t go down with this ship/I’ve abandoned loose ends/And that’s how I’ll do it for now” is a beautifully defiant message of hope.
- Ellen Once Again, “Unbreakable”
Ellen’s music is bursting at the seams with joyous energy. More importantly, that energy she emits is an honest joy, which keeps it from feeling force and phony. For about three and a half minutes, I feel that sense of unbreakability (if that’s even a word). Separate note: that intro reminds a whole lot of The Jam’s “Town Called Malice.”
- Peyton Stilling, “Out of My Mind”
I dedicate this song to all my fellow over-thinkers out there. And as easy as it is to get lost in the gorgeous melody, take some time to listen to the lyrics, and more importantly, heed them.
- Jackie Venson, “Keep On”
One of the things I love about Ms. Venson, in addition to her awesome musicianship, is the sense of hope that’s a continuing thread to her music. I could have chosen just about any track from her first full length album, Joy, and it could fit in this playlist. I chose “Keep On” for the simplicity of its message. Even though it can be hard, just keep on.
- Cut Throat Finches, “Reset”
Sometimes a song is released at the moment its needed the most. I knew many found 2016 to be a difficult and sad year, a year filled with knock down after knock down for me. So a verse like “Falling down just mean restarting/It doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t dance” held a message I needed to hear.
- Tripping Daisy, “Sonic Bloom”
Technically, Jesus Hits Like the Atom Bomb is the third Tripping Daisy. It feels, however, that it should be regarded in some respects as the first Polyphonic Spree album. At minimum, the band was already transforming its sound into the bright, symphonic sound that the Spree has become known for. Simply put, this is the kind of song that it’s hard to maintain a frown on your face while you listen.
- Charley Crockett, “Trinity River”
I once heard Buddy Guy say that “the funny thing is, when you sing the blues, you lose them.” I feel the same can be said for listening to the blues as well. There’s an easy case to be made for a certain spirituality in this song, with lines like “Such a dirty little river/But that don’t bother me/Dirty river gonna get me clean.”
- PRIZM, “Neon Road”
I’m glad Kris Williams suggested this PRIZM track for consideration. I often focus more on the beats and sounds of electronic music, and sometimes to the point of overlooking the lyrics. But I’m glad Ms. Williams helped me open my eyes to the beauty along the path of her neon road.
- Emmeline, “Orlando”
I said that some of these songs have a sadness in them, and none more so than “Orlando”, a track that Emmeline wrote with Click Five member Ethan Mentzer after the Orlando nightclub shooting in June 2016. And yet the ending lines of the chorus, “Love more, keep faith, have hope/Even when it hurts the most” is so simple yet powerful.
- Calliope Musicals, “Fear This Body”
Our bodies are one of the greatest gifts we are given through this lifetime, and yet many of us have a love-hate relationship with our own body, and it’s all too easy to focus on the hate end of the relationship. This song reminds us of the beauty and power each of us hold within ourselves.
- Nicholas Altobelli, “Red, White, and Blues”
Here’s a quote from Mr. Altobelli regarding his latest single. He said, “It’s not a protest song. It’s not a political song. It is simply a song about loving each other. Please do that.” Sounds good to me.
- Becky Middleton, “I’m Still Here”
This is another song, much like “Reset”, that came out at that right moment. It’s a song about enduring pain and coming out on the other side. It’s a lovely message made even more lovely by Ms. Middleton’s voice.
- The Angelus, “Sudden Burst of Hope”
When I think of The Angelus, I think of moody, dark, and foreboding. This is a track from On a Dark & Barren Land that, if I’m being honest, I did not pay much attention to. That was a huge mistake on my part. While most of the band’s efforts fit that dark and foreboding mold, this track is a noteworthy exception. I would even dare say that this departure in tone is what makes this song even more powerful. It sounds like the band has just discovered an oasis of hope at the end of their voyage through a dark and barren land. And while the song does have a certain bittersweet quality to it, I will settle to focus on the sweetness in this gorgeous song.