It Feels Good When You Sing a Song: My [Non-Partisan] Playlist for Election-Induced Anxiety

I know I’m far from the only person who is struggling with anxiety in the run up to this year’s presidential election. I’m prone to anxiety anyway, so between politics and a few busy weeks at work and home, life has felt a bit like a big vat of stress to drown in lately. This weekend I’ve been trying to stay off of social media (mostly) and focus on reading, writing, and hanging with my kids instead, and I’m hoping to continue that trend into next week to help keep the anxiety in check and the heartburn at bay.

A few weeks ago, my boys went on a random kick of watching Sesame Street videos that had been sitting around our house neglected for quite some time, and since then, I have found myself humming one of the songs–a number by John Legend and Hoots the owl–repeatedly. Here are a few of the lyrics:

“Sing a sing about new friends.

Sing about tomorrow and yesterday.

Sing a song about old friends.

Why not sing about having a sax to play?

It can’t be bad even if it’s sad.

Sing it loud, sing it strong.

It feels good when you sing a song.”

Sesame Street is a great place to learn things, or perhaps just be reminded of them. So as another strategy to stave off the election blues and nerves, I set out on a trip through Youtube to collect a few of my favorite calming, cathartic, and feel-good tunes. Some of these are hymns, but they all speak to my spirit when I’m stressed out. If you are struggling with anxiety these days, perhaps one of them will refresh your soul as well.


 

“Creation will be at Peace” – A lovely anthem of peace performed by the fantastic choir from Weatherly Heights Baptist Church (Huntsville, AL):


“Be Still My Soul” – Another lovely, peaceful, and encouraging anthem from the incomparable Mormon Tabernacle Choir:


“It’s So Heavy” A sad, cathartic tune to remind us to let go a little when things seem to be too much, from the Tedeschi Trucks Band. Like Hoots sings, “It can’t be bad, even if it’s sad.”


“Stormy Monday” – A truly excellent rendition from the Allman Brothers that I love to play when I’m feeling a little sorry for myself. Lord have mercy…


“People Get Ready” – Now, for the feel-good tunes! You can’t beat Susan Tedeschi having some church with the Blind Boys of Alabama here:


“Let Love Take Control” – A reminder from my favorite swampy bluesman that it’s all about love, not anxiety and fear:


“It Feels Good When You Sing a Song” – And of course, John Legend and Hoots reminding us of the power of music to alter our mood:


Feel free to add to my list by linking to your own favorites in the comments.  I don’t know about you, but I can always use another anxiety-busting tune! 

A Good Friday / Holy Saturday Reading and Playlist

Instead of writing something new for this already overly-busy Holy Week, I decided to take some time for reading and musical meditation on the death of Christ and the meanings that it has for me. If you also need to slow down and pause to contemplate the darkness of Good Friday and Holy Saturday, here are a few suggested readings and songs from my interweb wanderings on this Maundy Thursday evening. Wander along with me, or share your own favorite readings or musical meditations in the comments.

David Henson – “The Crucifixion: A Tale of Two Kingdoms (Good Friday Homily, John 18:1-19-42)” Reflections on how Jesus’s passion reflects a conflict between two types of two kingdoms: “One, the kingdoms of humankind, which come to power through violence and maintain it through oppression and the sword. The other, the kingdom of God, which comes to power through love and sacrifice and a towel.”

Fr. Stephen Freeman – “A Lesser Atonement” – An Orthodox point of view about how the work of Christ on the cross was about union, not about substitution.

Rabbi Rami Shapiro “Ten Thoughts on Good Friday” – A Jewish point of view on the meanings of Jesus and Good Friday and how even non-Christians can honor the day.

Mark Sandlin – “God Did Not Kill Jesus on the Cross for our Sins” – Mark Sandlin reflects on Jesus’s death as what the fullness of love looks like in action.

Brian Zahnd – “Jesus Died for Us . . . Not for God” – Zahnd approaches atonement with these questions: “Where do we find God on Good Friday? Is God found in Caiaphas seeking a sacrificial scapegoat? Is God found in Pilate requiring a punitive execution? Or is God found in Jesus, absorbing sin and responding with forgiveness?”

What Wondrous Love is This

Were You There When They Crucified My Lord

Beautiful Blood

He Never Said a Mumblin’ Word

When I Survey the Wondrous Cross

“See from His head, His hands, His feet,
Sorrow and love flow mingled down!
Did e’er such love and sorrow meet,
Or thorns compose so rich a crown?
Were the whole realm of nature mine,
That were a present far too small;
Love so amazing, so divine,
Demands my soul, my life, my all.”

– Isaac Watts (1707)

Featured image

Del Greco, La trinidad (c. 1577)