Music for these hard times

Everything sucks, right? (At least, if you’re sympathetic to human decency and believe in facts, credentials, and that complicated ideas aren’t evil.) Less than half the country elected a fascist as President. Sharon Jones, Merle Haggard, Prince, Leonard Cohen, and David Bowie all died. Things just suck.

There are many reasons why music is essential to people’s lives. One of them, for me, is that the right song articulates the complicated thoughts and feelings of hard times. The darkness, the hope.

During these hard times, I offer a few songs you should already know, but in case you weren’t aware, here they are.

Learn to play them (ukulele’s are great christmas gifts), or just learn the words to each. You’ll feel better.

Mavis Staples + Jeff Tweedy = a new America.


Rule of thumb: when you feel like shit, dig into Sweet Honey and the Rock. They’ll make you feel better, pretty much every time.


I suppose we can take solace from those who’ve lived through dark times before:


There are two queer SW Virginian musicians I know who give me unbridled hope. They refuse to give up any part of their identities, proving that the world, and people’s lives, are more complicated and interesting that we usually recognize. Here’s a song from one of them.


This one’s for the nights when you don’t want to be thoughtful. When you hate “the other side,” but know the road is long, and complicated, and worthy, but still…

A song to keep the hypocrites honest. Or at least, to remind us to always check on intention. Why is this song still so damn relevant?!?!

The greatest call to action I’ve ever heard, perhaps because it’s so quiet. What I wouldn’t give to have seen Phil Ochs live.

In times of trouble, never forget the classics:

And don’t forget to love, forgive, and accept:

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