As 2020 began, I was already in a healing process from my own brokenness. I drank and rang in the new year with friends, co-workers, and a shattered heart from surviving a two-in-a-half-year depression, of course, I say, tentatively. When I got tired of being in that pain, I started making changes in my life to clear that dark cloud from over my head and that included my music intake. So I went from listening to pop, rock, and alternative, consistently, to indie and acoustic music. I even made a playlist of my own on Spotify that includes a variety of songs and artists from the acoustic playlists that I was listening to and immersed myself in a folk-like trance. I tell you, there is some kind of healing in the soulful, and honest sounds and lyrics of artists such as Imaginary Future, Julien Baker, Ben Howard, and William Fitzsimmons. Trust me, if they're on my top rewind of 2020, the spot was earned.
From the moment you hear the first strum of Imaginary Future's guitar opening "The Thick and The Thin" on his album, FIRE ESCAPE, your heart is locked in. The same soulful and genuine vibe remains throughout the album making it one of the most healing albums on my 2020 playlist. However, the song that nearly saved me from ending myself isn't even on this album. The album, ALL MY LOVE, was put together in tribute to his marriage to Kina Grannis. So, you know the message of love is loud and clear with this one. "As Long As I Have You I'm Home" is the song that still brings me to a place of surrender when I wanna fight the most. The way Imaginary Future pours his soul into the story of his love without saying the word "love" is powerful. Instead, he calls it "Home", which challenged what I thought love should be. It's more than an acoustic love song, it's a song of praise and worship. As a child of God, myself, it made me re-evaluate the people and situations that I called "Home" and made me feel powerless and out of control. William Fitzsimmons is up there when it comes to his use of guitar play and bringing a bit of a testimonial healing to the playlist. His ability to tell stories of his tragedies and longings helped me put vocabulary to the pain I was feeling.
"Well Enough", on the top of the playlist, is a phenomenal piece of music. the pacey and free-spirited rhythmic count unleashes a vision of a new beginning while accounting for an experience with a loved one. The lyrics suggest a bittersweet closure while embarking on the adventures of a new chapter of inevitable heartbreaks, countless laughter, and lessons learned. Sometimes, closure can only be done at a distance and that could be an unfortunate thing for some. Then for me, it was best not to even travel in the proximity of that road, which means I got to do the work with an apology to nurse the wounds. In this song, I learned that that is okay, as well. Some relationships are so toxic that even the slightest sentimental value leads to a full downfall. If you follow this song into his LIONS album, you will find more of his sweet and genuine vulnerability in his poetic lyrics and clever guitar-play. Now I will admit that, sometimes, lyricism can be a bit cryptic but I appreciate that as an artist, myself. But the vibe that pours out of "Candy" forgives that. As creative and moving as it is, it's simple and sweet and isn't true with any injury that in order to heal, simplify the necessities. Julien Baker is another artist on the playlist that spins a creative on tragedy and artful testimonies. Her song "Blacktop" illustrates a turbulent moment in a relationship that changes everything. What clicked the most to me, in this song, is the ownership of destructive behavior described in the lyrics that led to the ultimate thread of change. The mourning in her voice when she opens the song:
You think that there's a way
Could ever get too far
You'd ask me where I've been
Like I ask you where you are
I know you're in the pew
This ain't the stools around the bar
And I know I saw your hand
When I went out and wrapped my car
Street lamp, around the street lamp
It causes me to take responsibility for the things that I could've changed and didn't because of fear. There are always two sides to any story, even if the story only has one character. Once that process got to spinning, action followed, which furthered my healing.
All of the songs I've mentioned have done their part in contributing to the healing properties of music and art, in general. However, Ben Howard's song "Under the Same Sun" produces the sound of the ultimate healing tool... Forgiveness, making this the anthem of my journey to full restoration. I capitalize on that because it is the direct lifeline between life and death and in a time of suicidal thoughts and other thoughts of vengeance, I learned that holding your breath hurts no one but yourself! Breath and let life take you through those obstacles and when we stop trying to control things, we find a strength of our own in letting go. While the world came to a sudden standstill and everyone else's lives seemed to be falling apart out of nowhere, I found a new voice and power of my own being isolated by choice. In fact, I would say that I began healing just in time.
About the author
I've been on stage as a dancer, actor, and singer my whole life, I even hold two degrees in Modern dance. But that's not even my final form! Follow, like, tip, and share as I bring to you some original content!