5 Songs for Hard Days

I recently came across a series of videos on Revolver’s YouTube channel called “Songs for Black Days.” These videos feature short interviews with various musicians discussing their choices of “songs for black days-” in other words music that has helped them get through hard times in their lives. I found this series of videos while searching for Bad Omens interviews, by the way, as Noah Sebastian was featured in one of them. I didn’t recognize any of the songs he chose but his insights on why they were helpful to him were- as you would guess if you know anything at all about Noah- very compelling. In any case, I thought it would be fun to create my own list of “Songs for Black Days.” The first four songs are ones I’ve been coming back to over & over again over the past 8+ years, probably closer to 15 yrs on some of them. The last one is a much newer one that only came out this year but has quickly become a favorite of mine & is one I predict I’ll be returning to over & over as well.

I know a lot of people who are struggling right now- between divorce, death of loved ones, addiction, miscarriages, infertility, & more, there’s no shortage of sadness in this world. So if you’re enduring some black days yourself, consider checking out some of these songs. I hope they will be as much of a comfort to you as they have been to me.

Times Are Hard by Redlight King: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3IziTRWzTUo. I’ve loved this song from the moment I first heard it, which was probably almost ten years ago. But it’s one I specifically remember playing over & over during the early days of Covid. Between the endless quarantines, the social isolation, losing hours at work (as a NURSE no less!), shortages at stores, & the general panic in which the entire world was caught, 2020 in particular was a very trying time for me, as I suspect it was for most everyone. I love that this song doesn’t shy away from the fact that life is hard sometimes, yet it still offers a hopeful message that no matter how dark it gets, we can find a way through it.

How Can I Help You Say Goodbye by Patty Loveless: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZBc09fKRDy0. Oh man, this one right here is a tear-jerker. If you need to have a good cry, this song will make it happen. I have listened to this song a number of times in my life when I was struggling to say goodbye to a certain person or a time/stage of my life. But one moment I will never forget is driving home from college for my grandmother’s funeral & hearing this song on the radio. It was just one of those MOMENTS. I remember exactly where I was- on 220A, the route that connects I-81 & 460 right outside of Roanoke, VA. It’s been 14 years, but every time I hear this song now, I’m transported right back to that drive & all the emotions & memories that overcame me when I heard it that day. It was the perfect healing song for me in that moment that allowed me to grieve when I wasn’t really sure how, if that makes any sense. As Patty’s stunningly clear voice sang “It’s ok to hurt & it’s ok to cry,” that’s exactly what I did. And it was so cleansing & healing in a way I don’t think anything but music could have been for me right then. And yes, just in case you were wondering, I did cry while writing this because I am listening to it right now. Never fails. But you see, I’m of the philosophy that tears can be healing, so I don’t mind that at all.

Painting Pictures of Egypt by Sara Groves: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yC9cKaELnG8. I’m not sure how I first found this song. Someone at my church may have sang it when I was a teenager, but I’m really not sure. In any case, it’s one I’ve returned to over & over for over a decade now. It was especially meaningful to me when I was graduating college & was both excited for getting married & starting my nursing career but also really mourning the end of my college years which were up to that point the best years of my life. Now if the title confuses you, as I can see it might, let me explain it. Painting pictures of Egypt is a reference to the Israelites of the Old Testament who were wandering in the wilderness with Moses & starting to miss Egypt. They started remembering it as better than it really was because they were afraid for the future that was scary & unknown. The beautiful thing about this song is that you don’t need to be Christian or Jewish to relate to every word of this song. All of us have had times when we’re overwhelmed by nostalgia, when we’re scared for the future & find ourselves wanting to go back to something “easier.” The truth of course is that often what we’re thinking of as easier wasn’t necessarily easier- we’re just remembering it with rose-colored glasses. I’m going to include the lyrics for the whole song here because I think they are so incredibly profound & so incredibly well written that they deserve to be shared in full.

I don’t want to leave here
I don’t want to stay
It feels like pinching to me
Either way
And the places I long for the most
Are the places where I’ve been
They are calling out to me
Like a long lost friend

It’s not about losing faith
It’s not about trust
It’s all about comfortable
When you move so much
And the place I was wasn’t perfect
But I had found a way to live
And it wasn’t milk or honey
But then neither is this

I’ve been painting pictures of Egypt,
I’ve been leaving out what it lacks
The future feels so hard,
And I wanna go back!
But the places that used to fit me,
Cannot hold the things I’ve learned
Those roads were closed off to me
While my back was turned!

The past is so tangible
I know it by heart
Familiar things are never easy
To discard
I was dying for some freedom
But now I hesitate to go
I am caught between the Promise
And the things I know

I’ve been painting pictures of Egypt,
I’ve been leaving out what it lacks
The future feels so hard,
And I wanna go back!
But the places that used to fit me,
Cannot hold the things I’ve learned
Those roads were closed off to me
While my back was turned!

If it comes to quick
I may not appreciate it
Is that the reason behind all this time and sand?
And if it comes to quick
I may not recognize it
Is that the reason behind all this time and sand?

The Climb by Miley Cyrus: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NG2zyeVRcbs. Yes, I am including a Miley Cyrus song here. No, I am not ashamed of doing so. Say what you want about Miley, the fact remains that this song is damn good. It’s so simple & yet so profound all at once. What I find particularly inspiring about this song is that it’s a reminder that we’re always going to face challenges in life & that sometimes we DO have to lose. None of us can win all the time. We have to learn to enjoy life for the journey of it more than for the destination. For a born perfectionist like me, that’s a lesson I have really struggled with at times, but this song is always a good reminder for me to keep things in perspective.

Punching Bag by Set It Off: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qb5-s5qwlCQ. Like I said, this last song is a new one that only came out this year, but it has swiftly become a favorite of mine. While the other songs I’ve discussed here are more appropriate for times when you’re feeling sad, disappointed, or generally “broody,” this one is for the times you’re feeling angry or taken advantage of. I suspect the song was inspired by a toxic romantic relationship- with lines like the following:

Hanging on by the strings that you’re pulling
So you cut me down just to push me around

Like I’m your punching bag
Just another pot calling the kettle black
Take it out on someone who won’t hit you back
‘Till we’re all as broken as you

However, the beauty of this song to me is that it’s broadly written & thus can also easily be applied to a toxic relationship with a family member, a friend, or even a job. Or even just life in general. As someone who was born a natural people pleaser but has slowly learned to move beyond that the line “people pleasing’s never good for your health” really hits me hard. Word of warning though, all the other songs on here are very G rated but this one is a bit more R rated. But hey, it’s an angry song- it’s SUPPOSED to be.

Ok, I’d be totally remiss if I ended this post without including one of my new favorite bands. I can’t remember exactly when I discovered them (though it was definitely less than a year ago) but they fit squarely into the category of Band I Fell in Love With at First Listen. And Have Been Obsessed With Ever Since. Who am I talking about? None other than the German outfit Electric Callboy. These guys are exactly the kind of band I might have scoffed at a few years ago, but nowadays I find them incredibly fun. Why do I say that? Well, their music videos & lyrics are frequently over the top & full of humor & double entendres. It’s very obvious that these guys do not take themselves seriously AT ALL. And yet, they take their music & their overall career VERY seriously. And that, my friends, is why they are so damn good! No, most of their music isn’t what I want to listen to when I’m TRULY hurting. BUT it is the absolute PERFECT thing to listen to on the average stressful day when I just need something to make me laugh. Furthermore, the band actually does have some excellent, more serious songs, so they aren’t ALL about the laughs. But I’ll be the first to admit that the humorous songs are the ones that drew me in initially. I mean, if you aren’t amused by six German guys in their 30s dancing & running around in wigs, mustaches, & ridiculous outfits, I don’t know what to tell you. I guess I just can’t help you. Furthermore, where else can I find the amazing, heavy breakdowns I love paired with soaring vocal melodies AND a ton of humor thrown in for good measure? Nowhere. But Electric Callboy’s got me covered for all of that! I’m including a few of their songs/videos below for your viewing/listening pleasure because I’m cool like that.

Hypa Hypa: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=75Mw8r5gW8E

Tekkno Train: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CFlhlZbeKgE This is the first song I ever heard by them (& the first video I saw by them). Love at first listen/sight, I tell you. If you don’t agree, we can’t be friends. Just kidding. But I do have to wonder about your sense of humor…

Pump It: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OnzkhQsmSag

P.S. Not only does the band make hilarious music videos, they also make fantastic vlogs about their tours & behind the scenes stuff. There is nothing better after a stressful day at work than to sit down & laugh at the antics of these guys. Yes, a lot of it is in German but trust me, the subtitles & body language are enough to ensure that the humor is not lost in translation. Do yourself a favor & check them out on YouTube. Immediately.

P.P.S. There is a German doctor at work so naturally I had to mention this band to him. He’d never heard of them, sadly, but hopefully he took my suggestion & looked them up. If so, he probably now thinks I’m a loon. Oh well. Worth it!