Venter’s Playlist

Below, you’ll find a short list of some of the songs I like to listen to when I’m feeling down. Unlike what most claim — That listening to sadder music when feeling depressed only makes one feel worse — I experience the opposite effect with certain songs. These songs remind me that I’m not alone. Sometimes, everybody feels like what I’m feeling. I get to let out my pent-up emotions, which eventually becomes neccessary for everyone in order to avoid taking it out in the form of aggression. Sometimes, these songs help me because of their lyrics. Other times, they help for no particular reason at all. It’s just a vibe.

So if you’re feeling down, perhaps any one of these songs speaks to your soul. If they do, my strong recommendation is that you play the song, crank it up, pour yourself a glass of your favorite feel-good, and heal.

Crystal Ball — P!nk

“Drinking wine and thinking bliss is on the other side of this…”

Being a wine drinker these days, I immediately relate to this song. I can imagine sitting down and enjoying a favored glass of red while it plays. It especially hits my soul to hear it at the end of a hard day. But even in the days when I lived with my aunt and uncle, still fresh out of high school and — believe it or not — still far from having a particular taste for any alcohol, I somehow felt emotionally drawn to this song. It was the second line that really got my ears perked up… and then the second… then the third, fourth, and so on, and pretty soon I was completely taken by every word.

“I just need a compass and a willing accomplice

All my doubts that fill my head are skidding up and down again

Up and down and ’round again, down and up and ’round again…”

It was my aunt who not only introduced me to the album titled “Funhouse,” she sort of gave me a renewed appreciation of the artist herself. To me, nearly all of P!nk’s music tells stories on the human condition. She also tells these stories so well, in a way that anybody can relate. “Crystal Ball” is an example.

Like I’ll Never Love You Again — Carrie Underwood

With another reference to wine-drinking in the opener, this song takes on a more romantic feel. It reminds me of the sweet tenderness that follows a fight or difference with my husband. Being a little bit like “Crystal Ball,” this song came out before I met my husband or knew what being in love was like, yet I still appreciated it from the first time I heard it. It’s the most physically-intimate type of love song that Underwood has done to-date (in my opinion). If you’re looking to rekindle the romance between you and a significant other, for whatever reason, “Like I’ll Never Love You Again” may be for you.

Rotten Apple — Alice In Chains

I‘m not sure exactly how to describe this song. I can’t make out the words without having to look them up. Initially, I have no idea what the song is about. Nevertheless, it’s all in the sound: The music, the beat, the lead singer’s totally unique voice… It all comes off as oddly relaxing, at least in my experience. You can smoke or drink to this song. You can have it playing in the background while you’re driving or working on something. Or you can simply close your eyes and let it take you where it may. Sometimes I listen to it while having an evening soak in the tub. It all depends on the individual. If you haven’t yet, give “Rotten Apple” a listen. If you don’t end up liking it, that is, of course, totally fine but at least hear the first three minutes. This will give you the best sample of what the band has to offer in the song.

A Horse With No Name — America

It’s funny, actually. I first heard this song in my high school algebra class. The teacher had it on his personal playlist and he played it for us while we did our work. It really helped me focus on my task. It is the only good memory I have of that class. Since then, I’ve listened to the song countless more times. It’s a neat, soft-spoken story about escaping. The singer is the narrator, who describes crossing a vast desert as a “journey” through a place that’s full of “plants and birds and rocks” and is void of any rain. It’s also a place where no other people are, which seems to suit him just fine. Maybe the journey is meant to be taken literally. Or maybe there’s a hidden meaning within the lyrics.

The Little Things Give You Away — Lincoln Park

Here is a song that plays like a soundtrack to a specific time and place in my life. When I hear it, I’m between the ages of 18 and 19 again. I’m riding the city bus to work. It’s raining outside, a Summer shower. And I’m both depressed and anxious at the same time. Similar feelings to those I had in high school. I felt like I was letting everyone down, trying to stay in school and find a real job that paid regularly. Hell, that was all that I had wanted from the start. As if that wasn’t enough, I wasn’t always getting along well with my aunt and uncle. A lot of it had to do with money — one of my first hard-earned lessons on how that can be a very stressful topic. Especially with my aunt, things weren’t always sunshine and rainbows. We just weren’t on the same page a lot of the time. We struggled with communicating. I didn’t understand why and it hurt me. In a weird way, this song always made me think of her. It was on my iPod for a few years before I finally decided to give it a listen. I believe I was riding the bus when that happened. Nowadays, it reminds me of everything I was going through back then. More importantly, it reminds me that I got through it. Nowadays, I feel closer than ever with my aunt.

Autumn In New York — Billie Holiday

This song takes on a more simple meaning for me. Like “Rotten Apples,” I don’t know what the song is about (other than what the title says). You can say I’m in the process of learning all about Billie Holiday and her music. Classic Jazz is not a genre that I’m at all familiar with. But Holiday’s voice is so intriguing, so relaxing. And I just like the way “Autumn In New York” sounds. It’s almost what you would expect to be playing on a record player if you went back in time to the 20s. While pouring a drink, perhaps one is is in their living room. Maybe they have some special company with them. Maybe they’re alone. Meanwhile, there’s something about the voice of the singer. It’s ironically.. happy.

Don’t It Make My Brown Eyes Blue — Crystal Gayle

Don’t I know it — Yet another tune one can unwind to with a drink at the end of the day. My uncle introduced me to this song. He told me that Crystal Gayle is his favorite singer, which surprised me since she’s in the old-timely Country category. He explained that the song is good to sit back and listen to while sipping something stiff. I understood how the song brought about that sentiment, even though that wasn’t a time in my life when I could appreciate it. Now that I’m a working mom and have to take whatever little moments of relaxation that come to me… Let’s just say this song is definitely on my playlist. When I introduced this song to my husband, he interestingly had the same exact attitude as my uncle about it. Right off the bat, he told me that this song is perfect to have a glass of bourbon to. To each their own, though. What’s one more drinking song to add to the list? There’s nothing wrong with a little alcohol now and then — So long as it is done responsibly.

I Am What I Am — Merle Haggard

I absolutely, absolutely love this song. Being my alltime favorite track from Country legend Merle Haggard, I learn to appreciate it more and more as time goes by. When I feel like people are judging me, this is one of my anthems. It’s a declaration. It says: Look, this is who and what I am. Here’s some of the things I stand for and believe, here’s how I live my life, here’s how I see things… It’s also sort of an implication that who I am will not change for anybody. It has a lot in common with Mr. Haggard’s bigger song, “The Way I Am,” for obvious reasons. I like the singer’s voice a lot because it reminds me of my grandfather, who, like Merle, has since passed. This slower, more relaxed and content song gives me a little peace of mind. Here’s a sample:

I believe Jesus is God,a nd a pig is just ham

And I’m just a seeker, I’m just a sinner

And I’ll be what I am

Kawailehua’a’alakahonua — John Cruz

Yeah… Try pronouncing that one out loud. Unless you’re Hawaiian, you probably don’t even know what the hell it says. I certainly don’t. The entire song is in a different language. I suppose I could look up the English translation but honestly, I don’t need to. I like the song for it’s sound and feel. If only I had an ocean to go out to and lay on my back, floating while this song plays. That would be perfect. The album this song comes from was introduced to me by none other than my aunt Jodi. This time, though, she had a story to go along with it. This album was playing during her best friend’s wedding in Hawaii. I was a little jealous of her as she talked about the good times she had there. There are a few songs on the album I really like, such as “Sitting In Limbo” and “Island Style.” But “Kawailehua’a’alakahonua” is the best one to clear one’s head to. It’s also the perfect background for yoga and massages.

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