In Which Music Soothes the Savage Beast

Bitterblue is eating me alive.

Sometimes, when you’re being eaten alive, the most basic life questions become difficult to answer. What should I wear today? What do I feel like eating? If I threw my phone into the path of this steamroller, would that be such a terrible thing? Is it possible my upstairs neighbor is rehearsing for Stomp? Seriously? Please shut up? Isn’t there something I’m meant to be mailing to someone? Where did I put that damn cactus? What kind of music would help me feel less strung out?

Sometimes, when I can’t figure out what kind of music I feel like listening to, I like to set all the files on my iPod — all 1289 files — on shuffle, and see what happens. Of course, what happens is that I get a peculiar mix of songs occasionally interrupted by things like the voice of Ira Glass, a random chapter of All Creatures Great and Small, and a middle movement of Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring. But I also get these lovely, refreshing reminders of songs I’d forgotten about. When you’re being eaten alive, a single song can be like a little island onto which the shark spits you out for three and a half minutes of peace. (Just… work with my metaphors here, okay?)

Herewith, I’d like to share a few songs I stumbled across this weekend while my iPod was on shuffle. The videos themselves are a bit random; the songs are the point. Listen, and see if they speak to you.

First, “Decatur,” by Sufjan Stevens. I LOVE the transformation that takes place in this song. Thanks to my sister, secret codename: Apocalyptica, for introducing me to this one.

Next, “Doubting Thomas,” by Nickel Creek.

The next one, called “Treachery,” by Kirsty MacColl, turns the tables on celebrity stalking. It’s possible there is no better song for dancing around in your socks. Thanks, Sam, for sharing this one with me!

One more. This teeny little song just cracks me up: “Broken Hearted Hoover Fixer Sucker Guy” from the Once soundtrack. Sung by a guy who fixes vacuum cleaners for a living (in case it’s not obvious). Watch the movie! I loved it.