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

  • fishsticked

    There are (not surprisingly) a ton of great recommendations here! I’ve seen Eels, Dave Matthews, and Damien Rice to name a few. All of which have at one point helped to pull me up.

    To add to this incredible playlist, I offer the following:

    Eels – It’s a Motherfuck (I know this has already been referenced, but it’s damn good)

    Elliott Smith – Waltz #2

    The Weakerthans – (hospital vespers). This one is short and odd, but beautiful.

    And finally, one song that I’ve never been able to let go . . .

    Dave Matthews Band – The Dreaming Tree

    None of these may do it for you, but I hope you continue to find songs (and whatever else you can) that bring you out of this place that you’re in.

    You deserve to be out.

  • aphoenix

    Jenny is pretty amazing at capturing the specific feel of a time and emotion — sounds like this is the song that is best for where you’re at now, but I’d definitely check out other songs from Rilo Kiley and her solo albums (less so Jenny & Johnny) for the perfect encapsulations of the emotional states to come.

    Less of a You’ll Make It album, but if you’re in the mood to seriously wallow, which I sometimes have to do to make it through things: the whole of the Mountain Goats’ Get Lonely album. Specifically: Woke Up New and Get Lonely, but really all of it is apropos. Again, only if you’re ready and willing to wallow though.

  • reallyreallytiredMommy

    When I got divorced, these songs were just sad enough to let me cry/release but also just strong enough to give me hope or at least some attitude about it.

    Damien Rice – Cannonball

    Imogen Heap – Hide and Seek

  • amanda-rants

    I know some have said not to, but whenever I’m going through any sort of transition I listen to The Smiths’ “You Just haven’t Earned it yet, baby.” Though, that is the only of their songs that I listen to during rough patches.

    Then there’s “Up Against a wall” by Peter Bjorn and John.

    And probably the best of the three, “Walls” by the Shout Out Louds.

  • Tootsie Farklepants

    It was when I was so unhappy in my brief, first marriage and “Hold On” from Wilson Phillips (cheesy as that may be) came on the radio and I felt very empowered to change my life for the better…which meant ending that marriage.

  • acsmi24

    LOTS of great suggestions here! It’s amazing how music can enhance whatever you’re feeling, in good and bad ways.

    Sweet Disposition by The Temper Trap always gives me goosebumps. Other good ones: About Today by The National, He Doesn’t Know Why by Fleet Foxes, and The Postal Service’s cover of Against All Odds. Phantogram is good for a pick me up. And of course you’re familiar with Bon Iver. 🙂

    Thinking of you during this tough time.

  • karala

    Not sure if anybody has mentioned All Will Be Well by Gabe Dixon Band- an excerpt:

    The winter’s cold,
    But the snow still lightly settles on the trees.
    And a mess is still a moment I can seize until I know,
    That all will be well.
    Even though sometimes this is hard to tell,

    All will be well.
    Even after all the promises you’ve broken to yourself,
    All will be well.
    You can ask me how but only time will tell.

    Also, Falling Slowly just guts me no matter how many times I hear it. When my uncle was in the psych ward getting EST for his vegetative depression, I listened to it over and over, especially this part:

    You have suffered enough
    and warred with yourself
    it’s time that you won

  • shtsmtgrl

    Your words have been so eloquent as of late. It is only in my darkest hole of despair, that my creativity sees the light. I’m sorry to see that seems to be the case for you as well (not that you were’t funny, etc before, of course). As many have said before, it will and you will get beyond this.

  • anneschuessler

    I just remembered that for cases of needing to give in to the feeling and just drown in it, the soundtrack for “Once” is a pretty safe bet. It’s hard not to cry to “When Your Mind’s Made Up”, “Leave” or “Say It To Me Now” even when you’re fine.

    I’m scratching at the surface now
    And I’m trying hard to work it out
    So much has gone misunderstood
    This mystery only leads to doubt
    And I didn’t understand
    When you reached out to take my hand
    And if you have something to say
    You’d better say it now

    Cause this is what you’ve waited for
    Your chance to even up the score
    And as these shadows fall on me now
    I will somehow

    Cause I’m picking up a message Lord
    And I’m closer than I’ve ever been before

    So if you have something to say
    Say it to me now
    Say it to me now
    Say it to me now

  • malisams

    I’ve always been a believer in embracing all the swings you go through in a rough time, from anger to hope to desolation and sadness…so my song recommendations sorta run that gamut.

    When I need to just wallow and/or cry it out:
    “Give Me Love”, Ed Sheeran
    “Wonderwall”, Ryan Adams
    “See You Soon” (acoustic), Coldplay
    “Where I Stood”, Missy Higgins
    “Let Him Fly”, Patty Griffin
    “Forgiveness”, Patty Griffin
    “Rain”, Patty Griffin (clearly I think she’s awesome)

    When I want to feel better:
    “Every Teardrop is a Waterfall”, Coldplay
    “Beautiful World”, Colin Hay
    “Shake it Out”, Florence + the Machine
    “Little Bird Courage”, Old Canes

    When I just want to dance around and pretend everything’s okay:
    “Knock ’em Out”, Lily Allen
    “Jager Yoga”, CSS
    “Creator”, Santogold
    “Get Some”, Lykke Li
    “Konichiwa Bitches”, Robyn

    Finally, never underestimate the power of Pat Benatar and “Love is a Battlefield.”

    Music is some powerful shit. Hang in there.

  • acsmi24

    Good call on the Once soundtrack, Anne!!!

  • Shamalam21

    My Mom had given me Martina McBride’s Martina album after attending a funeral where she played one of the songs. I am not a country fan, but as I left the court house after my divorce for some reason I put that CD in.

    In My Daughter’s Eyes, She’s A Butterfly and Learning to Fall got moved very quickly to my play list on a regular basis… I still go to those song when I need some strength during rough times.

    By the way, I’ve been a reader of your blog for quite some time, this post really forced me to want to leave you a comment. Thank you for sharing your struggle- know you are not alone!

  • Amber B

    Metric: Twilight Galaxy

    I’m higher than high
    Lower than deep
    I’m doing it wrong
    Singing along..

    Also, “blindness” on the same album.

  • WindyLou

    Harlan T. Bobo – Too much love

    It’s raw, powerful and wonderful for releasing all the tears you’ve had to hold in all day long.

  • acsmi24

    Okay, one more! The Frames – Disappointed (the Once mentioned reminded me)

  • cetta920

    I am much older (not THAT much, but still), so you may scoff at my choices. When I was going through the big D, there were 3 songs I played over and over: Time for me to fly by REO Speedwagon (don’t laugh!), Sail on by the Commodores, and Push by Matchbox 20.

    And just remember: the only way through it is through it. Day by day.

  • haynic

    “Without music life would be a mistake.” -Nietzsche

    Music has a very similar affect of making me feel alive or totally disheveled, as well. It saves us sometimes. Playing through my very current heartbreak, I find so much comfort in Jack’s Mannequin’s “Swim”:

    You gotta swim
    Swim for your life
    Swim for the music that saves you
    When you’re not so sure you’ll survive

    You gotta swim
    And swim when it hurts
    The whole world is watching
    You haven’t come this far
    To fall off the Earth

    The currents will pull you
    Away from your love
    Just keep your head above

    I found a tidal wave
    Begging to tear down the dawn
    Memories like bullets
    They fired at me from a gun
    Cracking the armour, yeah

    I swim for brighter days
    Despite the absense of sun
    Choking on salt water
    I’m not giving in
    I swim

    (That’s only half the lyrics, but all of them are flawless.)

  • chemmefatale

    Rilo Kiley got me through a lot of what I call, “Black Dog Days” where I sat in bed and could not seem to find a way out of my pajama pants.

    This song seems to have a similar effect and is also the basis for a very rad video.

  • Shea

    Collective Soul’s From the Ground Up (2005), the entire album.

  • Sara Jean

    I love that song. Here some that have helped me (for whatever reason):

    Extraordinary Machine – Fiona Apple

    Dog Days are Over – Florence + The Machine

    Back to the Table – Siren & the Sea (I don’t know if their album is readily available but you can hear some of it here:

  • SevenYearBitch

    This Year by the Mountain Goats. The refrain is “I am going to make it through this year if it kills me.” But it is weirdly upbeat. Great for the gym and also for the really aggressive crying jags.

  • jan001

    Oh, HELL yes. “Stand Tall” by Burton Cummings – an oldie but it helped me get through in a situation similar to yours. Once I was sobbing in the shower (so no else in the house would hear me) from the feelings of genuine desperation and terror and heartbreak, and then this song came on and it was like he was talking to ME.

    It acknowledges the shattering, the hopelessness, the wracking pain, but tempers it with a leeeeetle glimmer of realistic hope that it won’t always hurt this much this constantly forever, and somehow he does it without being cheesey, which is what I needed at the time — just a sliver of something to hang on to by my fingernails. And you know what? It helped. Not immediately and permanently – I played it a really lot and LOUD – but it helped.

    You can listen here on YouTube; just don’t look at his picture while it’s playing … unless you WANT to see a white guy with what appears to be a jheri curl (no idea why they have his smiling face fronting this particular song but oh well – it’s the best version, audio-wise, I could find). Just close your eyes and listen to the song.

    Hope it helps. Hang on, girl. You can get through this. You ARE getting through this.

  • Sara Jean

    I second what SevenYearBitch said! “This Year” by the Mountain Goats is GREAT.

  • Indiana Lori

    Just about anything by Ingrid Michaelson. “Winter Song” is my recent favorite.

    My Very Warmest Wishes From The Midwest,

    Indiana Lori

  • rojopelo

    This song got me through being laid off and my father dying within a month of each other in’08.
    I recommend Frightened Rabbit – The Loneliness and the Scream.

    Also, The Mountain Goats No Children and This Year

  • jennynance

    I do have a song like that and it’s “A Better Son/Daughter”! I can’t tell you how many times I have yelled this song in the shower getting ready for work…and there have been days when forcing myself to sing it was the only thing that kept me moving. It’s one of those songs that has meant so much to me that I want to write Rilo Kiley just to tell them that they support my mental health. You’ll fight and you’ll make it through…you’re weak but not giving in. That whole album is my favorite of theirs. Also “The Good that Won’t Come Out.” Also all of Jenny Lewis’s first solo album. Also…everything Jenny Lewis does pretty much.
    It’s just a really special song.

  • Meauxzie

    Not to get too 90s, but Liz Phair’s “Exile in Guyville” is kind of fun for a nostalgic break…

  • Michigan J Frog

    If you want to have a good cry while listening to something beautiful, there’s always Beck’s cover of Everybody’s Gotta Learn Sometime:

    For pure joy of living, sassypants rock, try Down on the Street by the Stooges:

  • lindzgrl

    Oh, and Shake It Out by Florence & The Machine. I can’t think of a better song to listen to when you’re trying to claw your way out.

  • Anxious Annie

    Empowering. Good for working out/treadmill too. “Fighter” by Christina Aguilera. And check out the video … Christina did Gaga before Gaga even existed.

  • EmmieAnn

    1st time poster coming to you from the other side of 50 and a divorce that is 24+ years behind me.

    My two songs (listened to on cassette — had to rewind to repeat over and over)

    Pat Benatar: All Fired Up (partial lyrics below)

    Livin’ with my eyes closed, goin’ day to day
    I never knew the difference, I never cared either way
    Lookin’ for a reason, searchin’ for a sign
    Reachin’ out with both hands, I gotta feel the kick inside
    (Now I believe there comes a time)
    (When everything just falls in line)
    (We live and learn from our mistakes)
    All fired up, fired up, fired up

    Ain’t nobody livin’, in a perfect world
    Everybody’s out there, cryin’ to be heard
    And I got a new fire, burnin’ in my heart
    Lightin’ up the darkness, movin’ like a meteorite

    Chorus: That chorus still repeats when I need to believe that things will get better

    Carly Simon: Coming Around Again (partial lyrics below)
    Baby sneezes
    Mommy pleases
    Daddy breezes in
    So good on paper
    So romantic
    So bewildering

    I know nothin’ stays the same
    But if you’re willin’ to play the game
    It’s comin’ around again
    So don’t mind if I fall apart
    There’s more room in a broken heart (broken heart)

    That was then, this is now — thanks to another poster for reminding me I need to go download the latest Melissa Ferrick!

    Music can indeed heal the soul, and a broken heart. Hang in there!

  • hulahulagirl

    When I heard “Honey Come Home” by The Head and The Heart ( I thought of you and what you’re going through right now. As far as songs I listen to when I am depressed – Avett Bros anything and LOUD. Or Neko Case.

  • AlisonG

    Elton John. Funeral for a Friend. LOUD. From beginning to end. Therapy through my speakers, music and words. (Note: Best applied when driving country roads with windows down)

  • pollymae

    Weight Of Lies, Colorshow, Black Blue, all by The Avett Brothers. Any of their songs really. They can make you fly or stop you dead in your tracks.

  • CaitlinMc

    Hey, thank you. My husband is at BMT for the Air Force right now. I haven’t seen him and won’t see him for weeks. I need something in my life to encourage me and this song is certainly a step in the right direction.

  • townsete

    I know that a lot of people like to hate on Dave Matthews, but when I was going through my divorce, I must have listened to “Grey Street” eleventy-million times. The lyrics hit me right in the heart and expressed exactly what I was feeling:

    Oh look at how she listens
    She says nothing of what she thinks
    She just goes stumbling through her memories
    Staring out onto Grey Street

    And she thinks…hey
    How did I come to this
    I dreamed myself thousand times around the world
    But I can’t get out of this place

    There’s an emptiness inside her
    And she’d do anything to fill it in
    But all the colors mix together
    To grey, and it breaks her heart

    Oh how she wishes it was different
    She prays to God most every night
    And though she swears He doesn’t listen
    There’s still a hope in her He might

    She says I pray
    But they fall on deaf ears
    Am I supposed to take it on myself
    To get out of this place

    There’s a loneliness inside her
    And she’d do anything to fill it in
    And though it’s red blood bleeding from her now,
    It feels like cold blue ice in her heart
    When all the colors mix together
    To grey, and it breaks her heart

    There’s a stranger speaks outside her door
    Says take what you can from your dreams
    Make them real as anything
    It will take the work out of the courage

    She says please
    There’s a crazy man that’s creeping outside my door
    I live on the corner of Grey Street
    And the end of the world

    Oh there’s an emptiness insider her
    And she’d do anything to fill it in
    And though it’s red blood bleeding from her now
    It’s more like cold blue ice in her heart
    She feels like kicking out all the windows
    And setting fire to this life
    She could change everything about her
    Using colors bold and bright
    But all the colors mix together
    To grey
    And it breaks her heart…Oh and it breaks her heart
    To grey

  • mahonegal

    “Dancing on my own ground”, Gowan

    “I’ve finally come around
    Dancing on my own ground again
    All that I’d lost I found
    Dancing on my own ground again
    And I’m alright”

    Catch myself singing it on occasion, when I need it.
    I hope you get there Heather.

  • Twinkie

    I like the songs that make me feel righteous:

    Gotye – Someone I Used To Know

    Alanis Morissette – You Oughta Know

  • dlw5

    December 2010 – January 2011 was, without a doubt, the absolute worse few weeks of my life. I had lost hope and that was a terrifying notion for me, one who was always able to look at the bright side of just about anything (within reason, of course). The soundtrack of my despair and eventual recovery was “Lost In The World” by Kanye feat Bon Iver (and to a lesser extent, ‘My Beautiful, Dark, Twisted Fantasy’), and the album ‘For Emma Forever Ago’ (with the added track “Brackett, WI” from ‘Dark Was The Night’), also by Bon Iver. on that album understood how I felt, even when I was struggling to feel. Or not to feel. I associate that song and that album with letting me know it was okay to cry, all the while giving me hope when I, myself, couldn’t find any. “Lump Sum” was by far the stand out and can easily put a smile on my face, or widen once that might already be there.

    In late January 2011, I stumbled across a band, Anberlin, and their album ‘Dark Is The Way, Light Is A Place’ continued to aid in my mental recovery. Oddly enough, though I can listen to Bon and the Kanye song over and over still, I can hardly stand listening to Anberlin’s album. I didn’t play it out, I just… I don’t know. I love the songs for pushing me back into the light, but am somehow angry at them, as well. Does that make sense? And the song that walked me into my darkest place and even started the walk out, however, I cannot stomach, which is unfortunate, because it is an amazing song. ‘Heatwave’ by IamX is the one. Hopefully, one day I’ll be able to enjoy it, again.

    Any who, enough of my ramblings. I just get excited when others use music as their catharsis, especially in troubled, difficult times since I, myself, now have my own battle scars to show. I guess I just want to say that it will get better – whatever the outcome, it won’t always be dark. Wishing you, Jon, the girls, and the dogs all the luck and comfort through these trying times. <3

  • LaurieML

    I wanted to share two poems that have helped me immensely – I know you asked for music but my connection to these is so deep I want to share.
    Out of the night that covers me,
    Black as the pit from pole to pole,
    I thank whatever gods may be
    For my unconquerable soul.
    In the fell clutch of circumstance
    I have not winced nor cried aloud.
    Under the bludgeonings of chance
    My head is bloody, but unbowed.
    Beyond this place of wrath and tears
    Looms but the Horror of the shade,
    And yet the menace of the years
    Finds and shall find me unafraid.
    It matters not how strait the gate,
    How charged with punishments the scroll,
    I am the master of my fate:
    I am the captain of my soul.

    And Desiderata(the actual poem is longer, but this is the most poignant for me)
    You are a child of the universe,
    no less than the trees and the stars;
    you have a right to be here.
    And whether or not it is clear to you,
    no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.
    Therefore be at peace with God,
    whatever you conceive Him to be,
    and whatever your labors and aspirations,
    in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul.
    With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams,
    it is still a beautiful world.
    Be cheerful.
    Strive to be happy.

  • LarissaX

    It’s funny, I was going to say “well this is kind of cheesy but…” and then I noticed a few others saying that. Interesting how we feel we have to apologize if our music isn’t “cool” enough!

    The song that always made me feel better was “You Gotta Be” by Des’ree – loved it. Also think that Pink is great to sing at the top of your lungs. And Dixie Chicks “Not Ready to Make Nice” fires me up. For quieter times love “Why Worry” by Dire Straits.

  • sfgirlbybay

    oh man. i can’t even be near a radio when i’m feeling broken.

    but, when i start to feel better, watching christopher walken dance in fat boy slim’s ‘weapon of choice’ is guaranteed to get me feeling sassy:

    try it. thinking of you.

  • The Bean

    Warning, I am a wallower.

    Let Go-Frou Frou*
    I Just Don’t Think I’ll Ever Get Over You-Colin Hay*
    I Wish It Would Rain-The Temptations
    Blue-The Jayhawks
    Don’t Panic-Coldplay*
    Fool to Cry-Rolling Stones**
    I’ll Miss You-Ween**

    *All from The Garden State Soundtrack, which is amazing start to finish.
    **All from Beautiful Girls Soundtrack, which is also amazing start to finish. It even has some happy songs on it. Hard to believe, I’m sure, based on the list above.

  • kwilfong

    I get goosebumps at the end every single time. I’m not kidding. It chokes me up often, too.

    When Your Mind’s Made Up by The Swell Season

  • Alison R.

    “Run” Collective Soul. Sob. For any occasion. My heart hurts for you. Life is hard.

  • ashhioli

    ace enders – when i hit the ground
    thrice – for miles
    i can make a mess like nobody’s business – baby steps
    jack’s mannequin – swim
    taylor swift feat. the civil wars – safe & sound
    maria mena – this too shall pass
    the rocket summer – walls
    thomas wynn & the believers – it’s all right

    these are just a few songs that have been helping me recently. maybe you can find one to help you too.


  • bremily

    When I want to wallow it is always “Another Lonely Day” by Ben Harper(oh, the sadness). It includes a little hope that things could work out, maybe, possibly, someday? Or not. But letting it sink in sometimes feels indulgently good. I am so sorry to hear of your separation. You are doing it very gracefully, my girl. All my love.

  • kmpinkel

    Any depressing song during a rough time can take me down with it-but my go to song for escaping it all is Pink Floyd’s “Learning to Fly”. I wish it was played at my birth and pray it will be played at my funeral. And when I am feeling like I am in a fighting for my life kind of mood, Eminem’s “I’m Not Afraid”. Cheesy? maybe. honest? absolutely.

    I wonder if anyone ever thought of “Hangin’ Tough” NKOTB?

  • full contact knitter

    Moving, Appassionata by White Stone (instrumental)
    The Druid’s Prayer, The North Sea by Michelle McLaughlin (instrumental)
    Let Go by Frou Frou

  • kmpinkel

    I forgot Joni Mitchell’s “Both Sides Now”. Serious wallowing.

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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