There are few lines from a song that resonate with me as much as the one from MUNA’s “I Know A Place” that goes, “Somebody hurt me, somebody hurt me / But I’m staying alive.” For me, it’s a reminder of two things: one, I have to acknowledge the pain; and, two, the pain won’t be the death of me.
The song’s reminder has helped me a lot me on bad days. I’ve come to realize that on days when things seem a little heavier, it doesn’t help to pretend the weight of living doesn’t exist (which, admittedly, always seems like the most convenient thing to do), or to constantly tell myself that it gets better when at the current current things are not. What I’ve found to help is going through the entire process of the pain, not trying to numb yourself to it but rather taking what it has to teach you. That’s the first part of what MUNA is trying to say.
And the second part? “But I’m staying alive.” It’s a declaration. Focus on the things that are going well, the things that aren’t so bad, like the fact that despite everything you’re still here, and you still manage to take step after step and you’re growing through each one. You’re staying alive, and with the knowledge that you have even more days to look forward to is the assurance that there will come a day when you’re no longer hurting.
No matter how good or comforting a song is, however, you can’t listen to that single song repeatedly—especially when bad days are often and sometimes even continuous. So, along with it, I listened to Florence + The Machine’s “Shake It Out,” the chorus of which ends with “And it’s hard to dance / With a devil on your back / So shake him off,” which, to me, is an expression of the amount of power I hold over my sadness, and a call-to-action that the journey towards happiness begins with a choice to exercise that power.
The list of songs grew as often as the bad days came, as I kept adding new songs that I discovered or old songs that came to mind. And that’s how this playlist came together.
From Chance the Rapper obviously having absolutely no f*cks to give on “My Own Thing”, to Yuna’s smooth vocals looking at painful events from her younger years in hindsight, and to flor throwing his hurt away because he realized how much he actually deserves to be happy, these songs, among several others like it, have helped me through times when choosing to get out of bed already felt like a victory, and even darker times, when my evening shower was one bad thought away from turning into a cry fest.
I hope they do the same for you.
Listen to the playlist here.