Maybe it’s just me, but the world has seemed super bleak recently.  Mass shootings, suicide bombings, political uncertainty.  Everywhere I look, it is just bad news and worse news.  Even personally, I have been dealing with panic attacks that sometimes literally cripple me.  Spending weeks dealing with a really messed up world and a debilitating weakness have made me really depressed.  So, I did the only thing I could to raise my spirits—I made a mixtape.

It may sound trite, but music really does affect and change my mood.  I’m not saying that when I’m depressed or freaking out that listening to a happy song will instantly raise my spirits.  But it does a lot more than wallowing around and listening to melancholic music.

So here are ten songs and a lyric from each that cheer my soul, along with a brief description of why that song is meaningful to me.

1. Kent – “999”

Det fanns ett ljus som aldrig släcks
i sångerna från min uppväxt
(There was a light that never went out
In the songs from my childhood)

There is just such nostalgia and hope in this lyric.  A yearning for childhood.  Knowing that the present isn’t perfect but holding onto something innocent and crucial from the past.  Plus, the song just sounds triumphant.  Like Coldplay but minus all the shit and wankery.

2. Digitalism – “Pogo”

It’s been quite of a while since I could experience your brightness
Now you’ve got a brighter smile and I think I’m going to like it

The quintessential “seeing a friend you haven’t seen in ages, and they immediately make you smile” song.  Summer is all about reconnecting with old friends, going out, and having a good time.  Seeing old friends is the surest way to make me smile.

3. Wrongchilde – “Dance to Your Heartbeat”

I know they say you act strangely
I hope you’ll never think of changing

Young/new love.  This song is so cute, it is almost too much.  This song reminds me of my wife.  We can both be dorks, and I never want that to change.  There is something so beautiful about not being afraid to be yourself—and my wife is never afraid to just be herself.  She inspires me.

4. A Wilhelm Scream – “Boat Builders”

We sweat like boat builders and marvel at our work
Smiling at the imperfections

Finally, a punk and rock song!  And like any good punkrock song, this song always reminds me to smile in everything I do.  I may not be perfect, but as long as I am working hard and sweating and trying, I have a reason to smile.  My mistakes and imperfections are my own; no one can take them away from me.

5. Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds “Babe, I’m on Fire”

We can hold hands till the sun goes down
Cause I know
That you
And I
Can be
TogetherForever
Cause I love you

So…this song is roughly fifteen minutes long.  I one time sent my wife the video (which is super weird/awesome) and said, “Wait for the chorus lyrics, and you’ll see why this reminds me of you.”  The song is controlled chaos—it makes me want to dance, scream, let loose everything bottled up—but there is such beauty in the midst of it.

6. Clutch – “Subtle Hustle”

My subtle hustle, smooth as mother’s butter
I let it ride on, I let it ride on

Sometimes, you need a reminder to be confident.  Sometimes, you need a reminder to walk with authority and swagger.  Sometimes, you need a reminder that you can do whatever you want.  You are capable of anything you put your mind to, and Clutch is always there to support you.

7. The Wedding – “Southside”

It’s never too late to make a difference now
There’s nothing that could ever hold you down

I worry about never making a difference in life.  Never doing anything important or worthwhile.  But nothing is holding me back from making an impact.

8. Anathema – “Sunlight”

Sunlight failed but only for a while
In the moonlight pale someone made me smile

Honestly, I thought about making this post about just the album this song comes from.  But I chose this song specifically because it is about how life can get dark, but it is always temporary/momentarily.  It will always get better.  Someone will always be there for you.

9. Why? – “Fatalist Palmistry”

But I am still alive in love and
wide eyed in my time
not a mummy shrinking in its cloths

Sometimes, the best you can hope for is being alive.  Life can be a real struggle.  But, as the rest of this song goes on to state, you have something that no one else can take away from you.

10. Devin Townsend – “Supercrush!”

So even if it takes our lifetime to learn…
I’ll learn…I’ll learn…
WE ALL LEARN!

I fuck up a lot.  We all fuck up.

But we all learn and grow.

And nothing warms my soul more than knowing that each mistake—no matter how terrible—is a chance to change and become a better person.

Paul Menn
Paul ('10) lives in Grand Rapids with his wife, Emma ('10), and cat, HandsomeMarcoCat. He loves board games, Babylon 5, and honey-curry chicken. Everything else is negotiable.

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