Songs for an Achy but Hopeful Heart

I just watched, in his Tiny Desk concert from All Songs Considered, John Darnielle of the Mountain Goats sing "Going to Georgia," and promptly embarked on a brief but intense crying jag. (You, too, should take 12 minutes and 39 seconds to watch the full little concert, explosion of tears optional.)

What the hell with the sobbing? It's not a depressing song--in fact, if anything, it's precisely the opposite, fast and loud and insane with what sounds like the shiny hope of young love. And yet, it punched me squarely in the chest. So I listened to it again. And again. Then once more.

The last song that (figuratively) knocked me on my butt in the same way was the National's "Slow Show," which I listened to about 5 times on repeat when, on my way to the library early last November, I actually paid attention to what it had to say. That whole "You know I dreamed about you/for 29 years before I saw you" thing did me in--though in a generally good, hopeful way at that point.

A few weeks hence, that all seemed to play out nicely. At least for a little while.

But back to "Going to Georgia." Though the track from the album doesn't quite have the same flat-out, pedal-to-the-metal energy and thrill of the live version, I decided it must immediately go on a playlist, along with other songs that are either therapeutic in their feel-your-pain misery (Elliott Smith, I'm looking at you) or, in the interest of being fair and balanced, somewhere on the spectrum from cautiously to flamingly, unabashedly hopeful.

So here's where you come in. Because I'm in the mood for some surprises, I leave the other entries on this playlist up to you, my, um, extensive readership. Your recommendations for good cryin'-in-yer-drink or I-defy-you-to-resist-hope songs? Lay them on me in the comments. (Yes, sometimes I cry in my drink while listening to the sweet, shiny, hopeful stuff, but don't let that stop you.)

My only guidelines: nothing bitter, nothing angry, nothing saccharine, nothing religious, no speed metal, no smooth jazz (just because), and R&B or slow jams only if absolutely, positively necessary (and, really, when are they ever?). Everything else is fair game.

Gimme what you got. And in the meantime, get yourself to the NPR Music site and listen to John Darnielle's little gembox song stories. They're good for what ails you.


Simon said...

I'll need to think about this, but off the top of my head Bjork's "One Day" fits the "hopeful category for me.

Erik Hansen said...

Hey Em... I'm pretty sure that "Smoke" by Ben Folds Five fits in there somewhere. But I can't recall if you like or hate Ben Folds. Hmm...

You might find a copy of it here: http://bit.ly/bnxkQh

That whole album is actually quite good.


Emily said...

Simon: digging through my (admittedly spotty) Bjork collection in search of "One Day."

Erik: I love Ben Folds! (Did you know he was a judge on a reality TV show that pitted college a capella groups against each other? For real.) And hearing "Smoke" makes me realize that iTunes picks it all the time on shuffle; I'd just never listened closely before.

Thanks, guys.