14 Musicians Shared the Songs That Got Them Through Tough Times

·8 min read

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There are the songs that you like and then there are the songs that save you. The latter burrow their way into your subconscious, pairing with some memory or feeling, and then take on a meaning that's deeply personal. Sometimes these songs are sad and allow you process your trauma. Other times, they're songs of joy, reminding you that better days are ahead. No matter the genre, music can help you time-travel, relate to the people in your life, and give you a chance to check in with yourself.

This therapeutic power of music inspired Sound Mind Live, a nonprofit organization focused on music and mental health, to launch the #SongsThatSaveMe campaign in partnership with the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention and the JED Foundation. Ahead of Un-Heard Mentality, the organization's Mental Health Day benefit concert at Brooklyn Bowl on Oct. 21 featuring Fantastic Negrito, Langhorne Slim, and Son Little, Sound Mind Live put out a call on TikTok asking artists for the songs that helped them get through a rough patch.

The goal? To not only create an excellent playlist, but to promote a more open dialogue surrounding mental health, especially as we begin to process the impact of a pandemic that's touched the lives of so many people.

Check out the selections and stories below, and be sure to follow Men's Health on Spotify.

"High and Dry" by Radiohead

"I used to listen to that song during all my best, most favorite moments ever. I loved it. It was like my happy song. Then I went through a breakup and I started listening to it during my worst moments ever. I would be crying in my car, driving to the beach, listening to some fuckin' Radiohead. And then one day, I was like, 'What if I rewire my brain again to only associate this song with good memories?' So I would literally just turn it on whenever I was really happy, no matter how emotional it felt to listen to [it]. And 'High and Dry' is my fuckin' song again." UPSAHL

"Don't Leave Me Lonely" by Yebba

"The song that saved me during the pandemic was Yebba's 'Don't Leave Me Lonely.' I mean, anything Yebba is absolutely incredible, but this song really got me through 2020 and is helping me to get through the craziness of 2021. This time has been super difficult for all of us. I've had a miscarriage, gotten pregnant again. We've lost family members. Dealing with anxiety and depression with everything going on, the confusion. And so it's so incredible that we have music. We're so blessed." SHAED

"Anchor" by Novo Amor

"I deal with generalized anxiety and a disorder called derealization. Whenever I feel like I need to ground myself, I like to listen to this song. From the moment this song starts, it just feels so peaceful. It just helps me fit into the wavelength of the song and just calm myself down, like I'm back to earth. I also have a lot of anxiety when I fly, so my ritual is every time I take off, I play that song right as the jets start going on. The whole entire time that we take off, I'm listening to that song. It just makes me feel so peaceful." Miki Ratsula

"Not Miserable" by Frightened Rabbit

"The song that helped me through a really rough season in my life is one called 'Not Miserable' by Frightened Rabbit. There are so many songs of theirs that I've really connected to on a heart level and it's because they talk about real things. During the season where it felt like my life was falling apart—family stuff, individual stuff, mental health stuff—I just felt very seen and known by the words from Scott [Hutchison] and the boys from Frightened Rabbit." Judah & the Lion

"Malibu Nights" by LANY

"I think a lot of people already know that I really love the band LANY. I just feel like they're the ultimate sad-boy band. I remembered when I discovered 'Malibu Nights,' I would just drive in circles in my car and listen to it. I definitely feel like recently, it's kind of weird with everything opening back up after Covid. There's a lot of social anxiety for me. I actually I made a playlist and it's called Group Therapy, and I put all my favorite songs on it that have really helped me get through a hard time. So it's kind of hard to pick one, but 'Malibu Nights' definitely has a special place in my heart. Whenever I just need to let it out and cry, that's the song that I put on." Rosie Darling

"How Can You Swallow So Much Sleep" by Bombay Bicycle Club

"A song that always saves me when I wake up feeling a lot of anxiety (which is a lot of mornings) is this song. When I wake up feeling like that, I just put my headphones in, I go for a little bit of a walk, and I just listen to music to calm me down and make me feel grounded. I think the reason that this song works so well is because it's just kind of like a repetitive loop that builds and it's kind of meditative in nature. So it always kind of helps to clear my mind and make me feel better." Wild Rivers

"Stop and Stare" by OneRepublic

"The song is talking about someone feeling insecure, feeling really down, and most likely depressed about where they were in their life. They were allowing other people to dictate how they looked at themselves. And, honestly, I can relate to it. I know you can, too. What I realized is I've got to stop and stare in the moment and realize what I want for my own life, and not compare to nobody else. And just shut out all that noise around us." Con Killion

"The Great Gig in the Sky" by Pink Floyd

"When I was 15 years old, my parents were going through a really rough divorce. I'd come home from school every day and sing that song over and over and over, and it felt so good and healing to get the pain out of me in a healthy way. As someone who lives well with anxiety, ADHD, OCD, and bipolar 1, I really rely on the healing aspects of music, whether it's listening or writing it myself. X. ARI

"Good Ones" by Charli XCX

"A song that recently saved me from myself and my self-doubt as an independent artist is 'Good Ones' by Charli XCX. Sometimes it takes a banger to give you hope." THRILL YOU KILL YOU

"Somewhere Over the Rainbow" by Israel Kamakawiwo'ole

As I was playing this song recently, I realized that I was singing the words "somewhere over the rainbow," it just reminded that I always think that happiness is going to be on the other side of something else. Whether it's an accomplishment that I've achieved or a goal that I set for myself, I always think that if I just get this, I'm going to feel better—and it never happens. So it just helped me realize that the real help comes from the inside-out. That's something that I'm really trying to work on myself and I wish the best of luck to anyone else who's dealing with that. Troy Ramey

"Nothing Is Wrong" by Mike Posner

"There's a specific spot at the end. The line is, 'I'm not my haircut, I'm not my body, I'm not my clothes. I'm something much more beautiful than I even know.' The lyrics say it all." We Three

"Save Myself" by Ed Sheeran

"I've dealt with depression for as long as I can remember. This song reminds me that I deserve the love I so easily give to others, and if I don't fill myself up, I'm going to have nothing to give. I think that's super important." Baker Grace

"To Me" by Alina Baraz

"A song that saved me from spiraling with anxiety my first year of college was 'To Me' by Alina Baraz. This song has something inside of it—some kind of magic, some kind of energy—that just really puts you in a special place and takes you out of reality. Walking through New York City, every day I would put this on. I was overstimulated, I was freaking out, but this song was there for me and held me up. It's just one of those songs that you need to keep going and make you feel good. Jeffrey Eli

"The Scientist" by Coldplay

"Not only was it the first song I'd heard from Coldplay, it was the first song I heard from a band. And as a high-functioning kid on the autism spectrum, silence is either the most peaceful, cathartic feeling in the world or it's the end of the world. So with that moment, I believe that Coldplay taught me that I don't need to settle for the silence in those difficult moments. They're always going to be there for me." Dylan Dunlap

To listen to the full #SongsThatSaveMe playlist, follow Men's Health on Spotify.

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