as a child
before hopping on the merry-go-round
i’d survey each of the painted ponies spinning
looking to choose the steed that most struck my fancy –
not too plain & not too pink
a little bit of lightning in its eyes,
a few hot coals stirring under its hooves.
i’d swing up into the saddle
the music would burst
& all at once we were sent:
motionless & spinning.
at the age of 23
i dragged myself coughing up north to a stage set for a skinny jean teen
prophesying her vision of swinging to the loudest versions of chasing-defining
struck by the fancy of “there could be nothing after this” –
came to the show with a boy in love with me or my denim vest / patched & distressed
i won’t be corralled in a tower stance
shielded from the stampede of fists and humeri
hurricane of sweat spilled beer & biochemicals
like forked lightning into that little thunderstorm,
a few hot coals stirring under my converse hooves.
i chomp at the bit before i spit it out
& when the music bursts
all at once we are sent:
(he lets me go)
Insomnia. I’ve experienced it off and on ever since I was young, for varying reasons. As an adult, it was often a partner to stress-induced anxiety. Because that’s when you really need insomnia, when you’re already in a constant state of “tired,” right? I just struggle to turn my brain off at night sometimes.
One method that I’ve developed to help myself out is listening to a specific playlist of music. Sometimes, by playing music from my iPhone near my head, I’m able to focus on what I’m listening to instead of my thoughts and essentially lull my mind to sleep.
I use a short playlist that I rearrange every now and then depending on what songs I most want to listen to, and I never put it on shuffle. Apparently, if my mind knows exactly what order the songs are going to come on, it relaxes more–I suppose it makes sense, because there’s sort of an anticipation aspect with the shuffle mode, and anticipation has no proper place in trying to fall asleep. My brain also prefers to know that the playlist is short so that the phone won’t be on for hours throughout the night. Conservative Brain. I typically start out with a song that has words, so I start to focus on the lyrics. The songs progressively become less inhabited by a voice, as well as softer in tone and slower in tempo.
I’ve used this method often enough to keep two playlists on my phone for these nightly occasions: one playlist that contains all the songs that I’ve used for falling asleep, and another that contains a short list of the ones I’m currently preferring.
So I thought that I’d share some of my favorites, in celebration of the songs that have helped me sleep and in case anyone is in need of something like this. I know I’m not the only insomniac out there.
- “Twinkle” by Tori Amos, Boys for Pele
- “Atlas Hands” by Benjamin Francis Leftwich, Last Smoke Before the Snowstorm
- “The Sun and the Moon” by Mae, The Everglow
- “This Place is a Shelter,” by Ólafur Arnalds, Living Room Songs
- “Poland” by Ólafur Arnalds, Another Happy Day
- “Rosyln” by Bon Iver & St. Vincent, The Twilight Saga: New Moon
- “The Houses of Healing” by Howard Shore, The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King – The Complete Recordings
- “You Belong to Me” (cover) by Jason Wade, Shrek
- “Come; Follow” by Great Awakening, Songs in Secret
- “The Bells” by From Indian Lakes, Acoustic EP
- “MLK” by U2, The Unforgettable Fire
- “Flótavik” by Sigur Rós, Med Sud Í Eryum Vid Spilum Endalaust
- “The Journey to Greyhavens” by Howard Shore, The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King – The Complete Recordings
- “You Are My Home” by The Sleep Design, All that is not Music is Silence
- “The Dirt (Alpha)” by Showbread, Nervosa
- “Possibility” by Lykke Li, The Twilight Saga: New Moon
- “All Alright” by Sigur Rós, Med Sud Í Eryum Vid Spilum Endalaust
- “Deora Ar Mo Chroi” by Enya, A Day Without Rain
Do you have any experience with this, or have your own songs for conjuring calmness? Let me know; I’d love to check them out.
“How’s it stand? What are we? Let that sand flush my cheeks…”
Smooth. So smooth. Smooth as golden drops of sad sunlight peering through the window shade. Smooth as driving through the morning fog, making ghosts among a redwood forest. You can barely see the tops of the trees, they’re shrouded so. Moments like these when you feel the weight of life, yet the airiness of each breath.
You’ll find “Repine” on track five of Pianos Become the Teeth’s new album Keep You, released on October 28th. This Baltimore band is a member of “The Wave,” a group of new generation post-hardcore artists with brother bands such as Touché Amoré and La Dispute. Keep You maintains the raw emotional heaviness from Pianos’ previous work, but steps up the caliber of melodic rock influence, and lead singer Kyle Durfey has mellowed out some of the rough edges of his vocals. The effect is enchanting.
Wear me out,
like a sister haunting absence,
like a sister who’s finally had it,
like a room left open just for being kept,
like some lonely facet,
like the promise of a place and knowing you’re neither here nor there,
wear me out…
“Repine,” like many of Pianos Become the Teeth’s ballads, gives you the sense that though nothing is fixed, there’s some relief in the realization. The mist drips into dew on the ferns by the side of the road; you notice these things and for some reason, you can sleep now.
You can check out the song by clicking the picture of the album cover above.
“I went to bed that night and dreamed of better things…”
Artist: Have Mercy
Let’s talk about a slow alternative jam done right. Let’s talk about a flawless progression of guitars and bass that ebb and flow to keep things interesting. Let’s talk about throaty, grungy vocals that bring a raw quality to the smooth table. Let’s talk about the painful realization this song creates with a minimalist picture:
But I know that you know that I know that you don’t really care
Let’s talk about your hair and how it’s grown
And how we know that we’re not getting anywhere…
Off of album The Earth Pushed Back. Have Mercy recently released a new album, A Place of Our Own, at the end of October.
“Sick on the I-5 with you on my mind…”
A blend of acoustic instruments, white noise, and an echoing voice organic in tone makes “Highway Blues” the perfect song to put on Repeat. You’ll listen to this song when you’re on a roadtrip by yourself, when you’re just feeling lightly melancholy about life in general, or perhaps when you’re wanting to learn something new and simple on the guitar. And you’ll listen to this with the memories of someone else on your mind.
Do I speak from experience? These are the questions worth asking.
Great fields, they pass, made of greener grass.
My neck fights my will to not look back.
At everything that I never had and now will never have.
Just promise to let me know if you come around.
I won’t be too far from Torrance, California.
I’ll come to you at the moment I hear your call.
I’ll pick you up in your truck, this time no hesitation.
Pensive perfection. You can find this song on Seahaven’s album Reverie Lagoon: Music For Escapism Only.