At this moment, I have 87 playlists on my Spotify account. In the past, I had over 600 songs on my iPod shuffle. There are countless others that I will refer to as ‘my favourite song’ when I hear the first few seconds begin to play in a restaurant, or the supermarket, or in someone else’s mouth when they start to sing at the top of their lungs. And it sounds annoyingly cliche to say I just like music, or to answer the question of ‘what do you listen to?’ with ‘well, just a bit of everything, really.’ But it’s kind of the truth.
More specifically though, my relationship with music is tied to trying to mark exact feelings with groupings of bands and genres.
It’s how I work things out. My many playlists have something to do with trying to name a feeling and then turning that feeling into a radio station. My own body and its history are what I rely on to pick up a good frequency.
When I’m anxious, which is often, there are some songs I come back to more than others.
They are the songs that I can place difficult mornings, panic attacks, existential crises, and sleepless nights with. They're a somewhat embarrassing musical map of my mental health. But I’m grateful for all 7 of them.
1. What's Up - 4 Non Blondes
2. Street Lights - Kanye West
3. Drunk Drivers/Killer Whales - Car Seat Headrest
4. White Ferrari - Frank Ocean
5. Vienna - Billy Joel
6. Now That I'm Older - Sufjan Stevens
7. Sun In An Empty Room - The Weakerthans
To learn more about anxiety, check out the resources at the National Institute of Mental Health here.
And if you need to talk to someone immediately, you can reach the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) and or the Crisis Text Line by texting HOME to 741741. Suicide helplines outside the US can be found here.