An unfiltered fire hose of flaming condemnation

“You’ll fake it if you have to”

In the comments of the post I wrote yesterday about the work I’m doing to find my way around this new reality, community member Daisy mentioned that “A Better Son/Daughter” by Rilo Kiley was the soundtrack to her life during a time of difficulty. I immediately went looking for it and then listened to it over and over again at an inappropriate volume. Daisy, I hope you don’t mind if I borrow this song from you right now. Thank you for mentioning it.

I’m feeling music more deeply than I ever have. A lyric can send me soaring for hours or throw me against a wall. The notes crawl inside my body and I can feel them humming and expanding inside my lungs. Makes me feel so alive.

Here’s that Rilo Kiley Song. There are a few lyrics that may not be suitable for work or young and tender ears, but it’s definitely worth a listen. Do you guys have any particular songs that have given you strength when you felt like the simple act of opening your eyes was unimaginable? Please share. (Also, thank you for your comments. I read them all as well as all of your email. Thank you so much.)

But you’ll fight and you’ll make it through

You’ll fake it if you have to

And you’ll show up for work with a smile

You’ll be better

And you’ll be smarter

And more grown up and a better daughter or son

And a real good friend

And you’ll be awake

You’ll be alert

You’ll be positive though it hurts

And you’ll laugh and embrace all your friends

And you’ll be a real good listener

You’ll be honest

You’ll be brave

You’ll be handsome and you’ll be beautiful

You’ll be happy

Your ship may be comin in

You’re weak but not givin in

To the cries and the wails of the valley below

And your ship may be comin in

You’re weak but not givin in

And you’ll fight it you’ll go out fightin all of em

  • Daddy Scratches

    Once, at the height of the worst depression I’ve ever experienced, I listened to Slipknot’s “Psychosocial,” like, 80 times in row.

    I don’t know that I’d recommend that for anyone else.

    But, hey: I eventually clawed my way out of that depression. And I like to pretend the song helped.

    Something more recent and more uplifting? Nero’s “Promises” (the Skrillex remix).


  • Lauren3

    I. Fucking. LOVE this song. Cannot tell you how many times I’ve blared it and yelled the lyrics while chopping the bejesus out of some vegetables for dinner.

    “Cuttooth” does it for me too (durr, Radiohead); and “Where Is My Mind?” by the Pixies, and “Don’t Make Me a Target” by Spoon, and “In the Aeroplane Over the Sea” by Neutral Milk Hotel.

    If I think of more I’ll let you know. LOVE TO YOU HEATHAAAAH…

  • vrcmama

    I’ll be honest, I couldn’t even listen to music when my marriage was falling apart, but I did rely heavily on the “fake it ’til you make it” philosophy. Eventually, you won’t have to fake it anymore.

  • Fifi Coon

    Your hair is still adorable. Even on day 23.

    We all flounder – sometimes everyday.

    Kenny Chesney is my go to music – for just about anything. Makes me feel like I am on a beautiful beach somewhere drinking a margarita.

  • Jamie Elizabeth

    Tin Foil by Rainer Maria is a good one, lots of yelling “God Damn It!” so that’s always a plus…

  • Monkey

    Well, in my post-break up moments, Ani Difranco’s “Dilate” did it for me. Actually, Ani Difranco’s music got me through a lot. “Marrow” is another good one. “Independence Day”. I could keep going on.

  • JillyMack06

    For the love of sanity…REFUSE LISTENING TO THE SMITHS or MORRISSEY. Yes, the man has the voice of an angel…the angel of depression.

  • luv and kiwi

    Both Sides Now~ Joni Mitchell
    Beware…it’s one of those songs that you need in order to break apart the remaining pieces so that you can start with a clean slate putting yourself back together correctly.

  • substances

    I’ve been listening to White Lies- Death a lot lately. It gets me dancing when I feel like I can barely pick up my legs.

  • janeingrid

    Hey Jude

  • Jamie Elizabeth

    Oh, I have more. Boy, do I have more.
    Four Winds by Bright Eyes.
    Losing It by Belle and Sebastian.
    Coughing Colors by Tilly and The Wall

  • LuckIsMyMiddleName

    Eels is always good music for depression, whether you want to wallow in it (“It’s a Motherfucker” and “Agony” are good for that) or look for hope and strength in the midst of it…in which case I recommend “Somebody Loves You”:

    Woke up with a bang
    And a bug on your face
    It crawled in your mouth
    And gave you a taste of
    The good life you left behind
    But i think you’re gonna be fine

    Somebody loves you
    And you’re gonna make it through

    This nagging malaise
    Is more than a phase
    It feels like a job
    But no boss ever pays you to lay there
    And think how you’ll die
    While the tears start to well in your eyes

    Somebody loves you
    And you’re gonna make it through

    One more saturday
    All alone through the night
    You’ve got to be sure
    When you turn out that light
    That it’s going to turn on again
    You’ve got to be your good friend

    Somebody loves you
    And you’re gonna make it through

  • smjawahir

    ‘Blower’s Daughter’ by Damien Rice.

    The attachment to the song was subsequent to an attachment to the movie ‘Closer’. I despised the move when I first saw it, but then later, at a time of darkness in my life, I became obsessed with it. Based on a play, the stark, honest, searing nature of the relationships between the characters mesmerized me. Still does, even though I have (hopefully) moved past that darker time.

  • geekjive

    “brand new day” by joshua radin – it’s very full of hope.

    It’s a brand new day
    The sun is shining
    It’s a brand new day
    For the first time
    In such a long long time
    I know
    I’ll be ok

  • appelsauce

    Like vrcmama indicated, when things are really rough, I can hardly listen to music at all. My husband has been known to do interventions when he finds me crumpled in a corner listening to Radiohead.

    However. I can ALWAYS listen to Ani DiFranco, and my all-time favorite for hard times is “Light of Some Kind” from the album “Not a Pretty Girl.” The lyrics don’t match the experience 100%, but the faith in the light at the end of the proverbial tunnel, paired with the gritty instrumentals and the way she seems to be singing with her teeth clenched…. Oh man, that song has always given me strength.

  • poohbeargs

    In the midst of my current marital crisis, I have been listening to “I Am a Rock” by Simon and Garfunkel quite repetitively. I listened to it on repeat for my entire 40-minute commute to work the other day.

    I also rely heavily on the Indigo Girls at all times but even more so when I am in crisis. Some favorites for my current issues are “Love Will Come to You,” “The Wood Song,” “Hand-me-downs,” and “Love’s Recovery.” These do not, however, improve my mood…they allow me to wallow. If you are in a dark place, these might not work. Actually, “The Wood Song” is sort of uplifting, now that I think about it.

    I also enjoy angry country songs about cheating men…but my circumstances are different from yours.

    ETA – AND ALSO “Iowa” by Dar Williams, for some reason, is really doing it for me right now.

  • shotsjr

    i’ve been having a bit of a hard time myself lately…but i didn’t realize how hard it’s been until i listened to this song and (seemingly) out of nowhere started bawling. i guess i needed that…so thanks 🙂

  • pehuff

    I know Sarah McLachlan standards can be a bit cliche, but “Fumbling Towards Ecstasy” always makes me feel stronger. Definitely one of those songs.

    And if I shed a tear I won’t cage it.
    I won’t fear love
    And if I feel a rage I won’t deny it.
    I won’t fear love.

  • delpien

    nutshell by alice in chains. pretty mainstream, i know, but after my mom was suddenly diagnosed with stage iv colon cancer, it was the only thing i could hear for months on end, which i didn’t ~ and still don’t ~ understand because it had absolutely nothing to do with the heartache i bore. for some reason unknown to me, it touched a place in the depths of my soul, and even when it wasn’t playing endlessly on cd (at max volume, i might add), there wasn’t a time i couldn’t hear it in my head. that one simple song will forever be the soundtrack for an agonizing chapter of my life.

    coincidentally enough, mom was in remission when i happened to purchase tickets to see them perform; a week before the show she died.

  • Lauren3

    Welp, already thought of another one. This one is for when you feel like doing some motherfucking BROODING.

    “Run Myself Into the Ground” by Jessica Lea Mayfield:

    Everyone’s watching me
    and I’m starting to believe
    that I can read everyone’s mind

    That part… oooh yeah, chills.

  • KatR

    Whenever Mumford and Sons go banjo, I become instantly happy.

  • kittykerri

    What a great song! It’s totally being added to my music library!

    Lately I’ve been holding onto “Swim” by Jack’s Mannequin, “Carry On” from Fun., and “These Times” by Safetysuit.

    Sometimes I think music is the only thing that can sooth such unspeakable pain.

  • Norabloom

    Probably one of my favorite songs ever:
    Cloud Cult’s Pretty voice

  • pehuff

    P.S. I love Rilo Kiley.

  • Norabloom

    I’m sorry, you asked for songs to give you strength and I posted a rather depressing (albeit beautiful) song. I like Florence and the Machine for making me feel like I can overcome anything.

  • Colgate

    I’ve got Hoobastank’s Running Away on repeat, but that song is pretty specific to my own situation right now. When I really want to wallow, I’ll listen to James Blunt’s Goodbye My Lover. I realize these songs don’t give me strength necessarily, but listening to them did feel like I was expressing something I didn’t otherwise know how to. So in that respect I guess they do give me strength.

    As for more positive music, India Arie has some great songs: I Choose, This Too Shall Pass, There’s Hope, Good Morning – basically her entire Testimony 1: Life & Relationship album.

  • Lornadoone1972

    Depeche Mode is my favourite band, and I can listen to them happy, sad, crazy, indifferent… but my play over and over, turn to song is ‘It Doesn’t Matter’ from the album Some Great Reward…. beautiful, haunting and says it all!

  • Boredom Abounds By Julia

    All This and Heaven Too from the new Florence & the Machine album is pretty awesome. Picks me up when I need to remember how much I have to be grateful for.

    Wishing you the best during this difficult time.

  • WI_Joan

    4 Non Blondes – What’s Going On
    One-hit wonders, I know, but it is so therapeutic to be driving in my car with that song full blast and SCREAMING “I SCREAM AT THE TOP OF MY LUNGS – WHAT’S GOING ON?!?!

    25 years and my life is still
    Trying to get up that great big hill of hope
    For a destination
    I realized quickly when I knew I should
    That the whole world’s MADE UP OF this brotherhood of man
    FOR whatever that means

    And so I cry sometimes when I’m lying in bed
    Just to get it all out, what’s in my head
    And I, I am feeling a little peculiar
    And so I wake in the morning and I step outside
    And I take A deep breath and I get real high
    And I scream from the top of my lungs,
    What’s goin’ on

    And I say hey…. hey….
    I said hey, what’s goin’ on
    And I say hey…. hey….
    I said hey, what’s goin’ on

    Ooh, Ooh, Oooohh, Oooohh, what’s up…
    Ooh, Ooh, Oooohh, Oooohh, what’s up…

    And I try, oh my God, do I try
    I try all the time in this institution
    And I pray, oh my God, do I pray
    I pray every single day FOR A REVOLUTION!

    And so I cry sometimes when I’m lying in bed
    Just to get it all out, what’s in my head
    And I, I am feeling a little peculiar
    And so I wake in the morning and I step outside
    And I take deep breath and I get real high
    And I scream from the top of my lungs,

    And I say hey…. hey….
    I said hey, what’s goin’ on
    And I say hey…. hey….
    I said hey, what’s goin’ on
    And I say hey…. hey….
    I said hey, what’s goin’ on
    And I say hey…. hey….
    I said hey, what’s goin’ on

    Ooh, Ooh, Oooohh, Oooohh, what’s up…

    25 years and my life is still
    Trying to get up that great big hill of hope
    For a destination

  • Firedancer41

    Wish I had this list while I was going through my separation/divorce.

    For me, I listened to a lot of Sober by Pink and Grey Street by Dave Matthews Band.

  • lindzgrl

    Come Downstairs and Say Hello by Guster. (sorry, couldn’t find the studio version on YouTube 🙁 )

  • salvationamy

    When my marriage was first falling apart, I listened to Tori Amos’ “Silent all these years,” uh, a LOT. Then I moved on to the entirety of Paul Simon’s Graceland album, which is somehow full to the brim with both loss and hope. Janis Joplin’s “Piece of my heart” was my go to when I was pretty good and angry. (This was all sort of 20 years ago, so, you know, none of this is particularly timely music). A few years later, when I was done being sad and angry and falling apart, Dar Williams’ “The Honesty Room” album and, well, her entire catalog, actually, worked with me to start re-imagining my life.

    I’d get that album right away. Every single song is sort of a different aspect of self discovery.

  • hereslucy

    Remember GARBAGE?

    These 3 are good:

    The Trick Is To Keep Breathing

    Kick My Ass

    Not My Idea

    For wisdom, compassion and that sweet zen like feeling…go to Pema Chodrin, When Things Fall Aprt.

    Try to just listen to her via CD/8-track whatever you can get. xoxo.

  • Rike

    Sometimes I really need/want to cry but I just can’t. Then I listen to these songs:

    Hallelujah by Jeff Buckley

    The Black Parade by My chemical Romance (the whole album)

    (!) Scala & Kolacny Brothers Creep (this one is my favorite! It feels like it was written for me sometimes.)

    And also thhese songs from the German band Unheilig:

    Geboren um zu Leben
    An deiner Seite

    If I need energy I listen to Florence & the Machine- The dog days are over 🙂

  • tracy

    ok, must go download that song now….

    I’ve always felt music very intensely, too. A song that is musically perfect (in my opinion) can bring me to tears, as does the National Anthem, or a song/album associated with a particular event or time in my life – usually life changing – carries a deeply rooted emotional attachment (read: tears every time I hear it), and I even cried during my brother’s 8th grade band concert because they had come so far since their 6th grade band concert.

    But, my go-to song…the one I play (at an appropriately loud volume, of course) when I need FEEL again…. the song that puts all the bullshit into perspective, even though the song itself is largely irrelevant to my life (at least, so says google when I looked up the song meaning). Oh, the song! Right! Simon & Garfunkle, “The Only Living Boy in New York”, and the lines that gets me EVERYSINGLEFUCKINGTIME are “half of the time we’re gone & we don’t know where”, and “I’ve got nothing to do today but smile”, because aint’t that the godddam truth??

    And the song that I play on repeat while telling my 3 year old that she’s not allowed to sing this song, is Eminem w/ Nate Dogg, “Shake That”. Because, COME ON. How do you not feel better after shaking your ass like you did when you were young, had a healthy social life, came home both wired & exhausted from closing down the bar, and then got up the next morning for breakfast at your favorite neighborhood spot with whichever friends happened to crash at your apartment, where the unwritten rule is, you go to breakfast as is…no showering or makeup allowed.

    Damn, those were some good times before life turned all real & complicated….before I was finally forced to deal with all that I’d been burying my whole life. And trying to work through my baggage via therapy, & reading, & spending lots of time in my head, while also divorcing a verbally abusive, manipulative individual, adjusting to single parenthood, a house foreclosure, and moving into my mom & step-dad’s house at age 30-fucking-six? Pure awesome.

    xoxo, mama… are so not alone.

  • shellydk

    “Shattered” by O.A.R.

  • destructogrrl

    When I need a pick-me-up or a reason to get going, I listen to “Whatever Doesn’t Kill Me” by Finger Eleven. Great song, great beat. It keeps me going forward and not back into a deeper depression some days.

    Stay strong, Heather!

    Edited to add in the link to the video/song:

  • smithie1996

    Like any good Smith alum, Ani has seen me through more heartbreaks and healings than I can count. She has an anger that is like none other.

    Grant Lee Buffalo’s Honey Don’t Think. I have listened to it on repeat for years. It is the perfect mix of hope and gorgeous music that makes my heart soar and it still gives me strength fifteen years after I first heard it.

    Thinking about you every single day and hoping you find some peace in the in between moments.

  • uvula_envy

    When my parents were going through a divorce I was in grad school, I listened to Shawn Colvin’s album “A Few Small Repairs.”

    When I have gone through breakups, I have a tendency to pull out Liz Phair’s “Exile in Guyville” and Beck’s “Sea Change.”

    I like the balance of I am done with the relationship and oh hey I am done with this relationship because with all relationships there is a little bit of both of that going on.

  • rachaelizabeth

    this is totally just a pop song but i can feel it when i listen to it and the lyrics are better than her usual:

    the harold song
    by kesha


  • leahruthie

    I tweeted this at you already and I see that someone else has also mentioned it, but it bears repeating: SWIM. Jack’s Mannequin isn’t for everyone–homeboy’s voice wanders too far into Conor Oberst territory for me from time to time–but oh this song is powerful. The words are so good!

  • ames0505

    LeAnn Rimes – What I Cannot Change.

    I know, its LeAnn Rimes, but the song is beautiful.

  • GingerPeach

    I’ve been loving “Somebody that I used to know” by Gotye. It’s a breakup song that sounds delightfully like Peter Cetera (so awesome, in my book), especially the second half.

    “You can get addicted to a certain kind of sadness
    Like resignation to the end, always the end
    So when we found that we could not make sense
    Well you said that we would still be friends
    But I’ll admit that I was glad that it was over”

  • Jan

    Brother, Brother, by Carole King.

  • amberella

    My go to song for the past year or so has been “Heart” from the Damn Yankees sdtk. I normally turn to indie rock for everything, but this one really struck a chord with me.

  • coltempo

    Mumford & Sons “Roll Away Your Stone”.
    At full volume.

  • unpopularsuggestions

    Oh, I don’t have words for how much I love this Rilo Kiley song! A definite staple on my “Hard Times” playlist.
    Another staple is “Rain” by Bishop Allen (Oh let the rain fall down / and wash this world away / Oh let the sky be gray / ’cause if it’s ever gonna get any better / it’s gotta get worse for a day).
    And I have to agree with the Ani DiFranco fans here. If you want heartfelt sing-shout-alongs, Ani’s your girl.

  • Nadia V

    Thistle and Weeds by Mumford & Sons, Flood Waters or White Owl by Josh Garrels.

    By whatever I listen too in my darker times, the louder the better!

  • monica.lynne

    There are a handful of songs by Jack’s Mannequin that I cannot recommend highly enough. “Swim” kept me from killing myself the nights I thought about taking all my Xanax with a bottle of wine. “The Resolution” helped me start to stave off the panic attacks and pick up the pieces, and my first tattoo came in part from its lyrics. “Cell Phone” helps me put one foot in front of the other on the really bad days. “Diane, the Skyscraper,” which may actually be my favorite, takes me to a calmer place. “Keep Rising” is so beautiful that I cried the first twenty or so times I heard it.

    I really admire your courage and honesty in writing about what you’re going through.

  • micjer65

    I’ve got two go-to albums from the 90s that can pull me through a rage, to sadness and back to a safer place…I always pull them out when I’m feeling unsettled, yet optimistic that “whatever” will pass and I’ll get back to loving Disney lyrics. I HIGHLY recommend Paula Cole “This Fire” and Maria McKee “Life is Sweet” — both of them IN ENTIRETY, and preferably without interruption. 🙂 And then there’s always some Patty Griffin or Simon and Garfunkels “Bookends.” Even a little NERD can help me at times. “Love Bomb,” “Wonderful Place,” “Maybe” are just a few. Oh lawd, I could go on for days! Hang in there my friend (sorry didn’t mean to conjure up image of kitten hanging from branch)! We’re all with you!

Heather B. Armstrong

Hi. I’m Heather B. Armstrong, and this used to be called mommy blogging. But then they started calling it Influencer Marketing: hashtag ad, hashtag sponsored, hashtag you know you want me to slap your product on my kid and exploit her for millions and millions of dollars. That’s how this shit works. Now? Well… sit back, buckle up, and enjoy the ride.

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