Greece, Music, Gate

Feeling Blue? 7 Songs to Perk You Up

I’ll be honest: the last month has been pretty difficult for me. On top of the general stress of figuring out my own life and where I’m going and what the hell I’m doing, my mother seems to have had a crisis of her own. Naturally, her uncertainty spun out to take a toll on everyone in our little household. For my own sake, I had to call my doctor and ask to be put back on antidepressants. It felt something like defeat or regression to do so – I haven’t needed them for three years – but that’s the thing about mental health. You have to be vigilant, take care of yourself and if you need help then you should get it. But I digress.

My point is, for a while there, things were really difficult. And some days I had those ugly feelings that I just couldn’t shake. Typically, when this happens, I turn to music- that’s what music is for, right? It’s one of the great connectors. Across time, language, and cultures – music can speak to everyone (I once had a roommate in France who listened to Adele’s “Rolling in the Deep” for days on end and she didn’t even speak English). So I put together a list of 7 songs that can never fail to make me smile, or pull me into a better mood and I’m sharing them with you now.

1)   Beethoven Symphony #9 in D Minor, movement 4: “Choral” – Presto, Allegro

I write this cringing that you’ll think I’m terribly pretentious (or who knows, maybe you’re nodding your head like, “yeah, I totally get that.”) but let me explain: Symphony 9 was Beethoven’s last great work. There’s indications that he was working on it as early as 1793, meaning he would have heard some of the work that he was creating but by 1824, when the piece was played in full for the first time, Beethoven was completely deaf. A musician had to turn him around on stage so that he could perceive the five standing ovations that the premier elicited.

At nearly 24 minutes, the piece is a bit long winded but I can’t describe how incredible it is. Maybe it’s because I had a phenomenal music history professor, or maybe it’s because I just appreciate the fact that the celli actually have the melody for a good 2 seconds (rare). But this piece…just do me a favor: listen to it sometime, when you’re not distracted and you can just sit and appreciate what has been called one of the biggest contributions to classical music ever made.

2)    Vagabond- Wolfmother 

This one doesn’t take much description, the song itself is contemporary, the tune is carefree and the lyrics are fairly direct: I don’t have all the answers but I could tell you everything about being free.

This one doesn’t take much description, the song itself is contemporary, the tune is carefree and the lyrics are fairly direct: I don’t have all the answers but I could tell you everything about being free.

3)   Home- Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes

I’ve had actual conversations with people about how this is going to be one of those rare, timeless songs. It’s just that good, and I particularly love this video for it. It’s from the music video/documentary called “Big Easy Express” and it follows Mumford and Sons, Old Crow Medicine Show and Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes as they take a train for a tour of the southwest for a week and a half. It’s fantastic, but this band, in particular, is brilliant. They’re full of life and energy and it’s so obvious that they love what they do and they love their music.

4)   Umbrellas – Sleeping at Last

I’m not sure how well known this guy is, but I’ve seen Ryan O’Neil perform live twice and he’s such a gifted musician, as well as a truly decent human being. He wrote Umbrellas before he met his wife, but that doesn’t make the sentiment any less beautiful. He sings about finding that one person you want to spend your life with, and encouraging them everyday because they “were made for amazing things.” A lot of music today is so over-sexualized, and promotes this “can’t live without you, don’t ever leave me, I’m nothing without you” kind of love and it just…it’s great in the fictional sense but if I had a friend who needed her boyfriend or her husband like she needed air, I would slap her. You’ve got to be your own person; know who you are what you want out of life. Tying your life to someone else can be a beautiful thing but never when that other person defines your very existence.  This song embraces and upholds the notion of love and respect for your partner without devaluing yourself in the process.

Oh and all of Sleeping at Last’s music is beautiful, so go check it out.

5)   Blue Skies- Noah and the Whale

Sometimes, when I’m feeling down, I just want to wallow for a moment. And really, I think that’s okay – but you should never let that feeling consume you, which can be a fine line to walk. Blue Skies is a really great song for those moments. And I don’t even really need to explain why, not because I’m getting lazy, but simply because their first chorus says it all:

“This is a song for anyone with a broken heart,

This is a song for anyone who can’t get out of bed.

I’ll do anything to be happy, oh ‘cause blue skies are coming,

But I know that it’s hard.”

It’s a perfect song for perspective. Sure, the good times don’t last but neither will the bad. Blue skies are coming, you’re going to be okay, but yeah – it’s going to be hard for a while – but you’re going to be okay.  And okay, yes- maybe this is primarily a breakup song but seriously, lovers aren’t the only ones who will break your heart.

6)   Sweet Disposition – The Temper Trap

If this song doesn’t make you feel like dancing, there’s something wrong with you.

7)   That’s Life – Frank Sinatra

Alright. Maybe I am getting lazy, but really. Do I need to put a whole lot of explanation here either? Kind of like “Blue Skies” this one reinforces that idea: the bad times don’t last, you’re going to be back on top in no time. That’s Life. 

I’m curious to hear what you all thought of this list! If you’ve got some favorite “pick-me-up” songs, I’d love to hear them! Please comment and share!




  1. Just a girl on a Journey · September 21, 2013

    Reblogged this on Journey For Control and commented:
    As you know, I have been an advocate of positive, uplifting music to assist us in our treatment of depression. I came across this post and it is true that there is so much power and motivation in classical music. I am not sure that these are the ones I would have picked, but to each their own, I may have to go back and look at some of my old favorites! Tchaicovsky has always been a favorite. Don’t forget to share your favorite uplifting songs with me!!!

  2. mscharlies · September 30, 2013

    Thanks for connecting with WordBowl, and thanks for the uplifting music suggestions!

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