Music for "Tough Times"

When you're feeling lousy, or maybe just had a tough day, what one LP, CD, tape, etc. do you play to make you feel better? In my case it's Cowboy Junkies CD "The Caution Horses". Margo Timmins voice is at once soft and soothing, but also haunting and immediate. This is music that I can get lost in. What music do others use on occasions like this?
interesting question, garfish. i can think of several recordings, tho my no. 1 vote goes to ani difranco's "dilate," in particular track 1: "untouchable face." read or listen to the lyrics and i think you'll undersatnd why i favor it. (parental discretion advised). -kelly
Other feel-good hits are: Me first and the Gimme Gimmes, "Have a Ball" and Sarah McLachlan, "Rarities, B-side & other stuff".
I have to agree with Cornfedboy too, Ani's Dilate is an excellent album.
Joy Division
Polka! Polka! Polka!
Jennifer Warnes "The Hunter"
Depends on my mood, and what is stressing me. The ones that come to mind are Daniel Lanois, "Acadia," Bjork, "Debut," or Red Garland, "Steppin' Out." These are very different from one other, but each have the creative energy to move me.
Well now Craig, this is something I'm a true expert at. When I was told I'd only live another 12 months max. (4 years ago) I was as far down as I want to experience. I found music and prozac to be quite helpful. My selections tended to be rather dark in nature, geeze I wonder why. I listened to Sheryl Crow "Tuesday Night Music Club" (yea I know, a real audiophile favorite) but only three songs, over and over and over... That might be a sign of some sort of depression, but don't quote me on that. The three were "No One Said It Would Be Easy", "We Do What We Can" and "I Shall Believe" each is about 5 1/2 minutes. "I Shall Believe" I could listen to 100 times when I'm down. My other disks included Rosanna Cash "10 Song Demo", Siri's Svale Band "Blackbird", an old stand-by Bob Dylan "Blood on the Tracks" and anything Cowboy Junkies. My new addition and the disk for all occasions, Patricia Barber "Café Blue" Sorry all you who are totally sick of Ms. Barber, but she always works for me! Well Craig, that's my list, great question and thanks for listening. I would guess from my two years in the Pacific Northwest that right about now you are looking for what ever you can to get rid of the rainy day blues. Stay well, J.D.
Hmmm... Dvorzak's New World Symphony, Handel's Water Music, Beethoven's 9th and 1812 overture do the job for me if I am trying to feel better...

And sometimes, I'm just so down and gloomy that Urban Hymns by the Verve, The Man Who by Travis (Specially the second half) and the track Sarajevo from Yo Yo Ma's Solo keep me in that down mood.

But, now that I finally quit my job, I bet I will not have too many more of these depressed days ahead of me...
jadem6: wow, talk about a heavy heart. how can anybody else but you possibly understand? tell ya what: i'm gonna' go listen to sheryl's "tues. night" right now in the hope it'll get you, and maybe even me, through the next 4X10 years. keep on truckin'. -kelly
Joy Division, particularly Unknown Pleasures. When I'm in a pissy mood, I don't want to listen to happy feel-good music -- it's like nails on a chalk board. Definitely not for everyone though, nor for the better days.
I decided to chime in because I saw a few of my favorites listed here (namely Daniel Lanois Acadie, and various by the Cowboy Junkies). Jadem6, your 3 picks from Sheryl Crow are my moody favorites as well.

I think it would be fair to add U2's the Unforgettable Fire, especially side B (the album was produced by Lanois) and Marvin Gaye's What's Going On (which I consider an American masterpiece). I can honestly say that I've listened to Acadie more times than any CD in my collection.

Another "tough times" album of more recent creation might be The Flaming Lips - The Soft Bulletin. If you really want to put a cherry on top of a bad day, read an early novel by Charles Bukowski. You'll end up laughing and will feel better in the end.
Some very moving posts up there, for me, a newcomer, many of the names slowly get a human face. I'll give you something classical: Schubert's Quintet in C minor, he wrote it in the month of his early and untimely death and to me its all about despair, anguish and then a serenity slowly building up and a letting go. It helped me enormously after my wife died five years ago, I listened to it practically every night and afterwards I could sleep.
The second movement always brings up tears, but in a good way and then "Ella Fitzgerald sings the Blues", she brings all those classical oldies to a new and passionate life, the blues are close to your own pain, but the driving force is vital and envigourating. Highly recommended, if you can find it.
Oh and I forgot, Bach's "Magnificat": It is so full of a glowing, rejoicing, positive energy, it will get you back into "flow" anytime and soothe the "savage beast of depression". Its like stepping out of a dark room into the sun. Honestly.
Dwight Yoakum's "Hillbilly Deluxe" is always a good start for me. I can then either move on up and out to some more honky tonk, or just get down and wallow in it with the likes of Patsy Cline, Jim Reeves, etc.

If I'm really out of sorts, I just start out with Billie Holiday and blues it out.

And finally, if it's one of those "I hate my job, my boss is a blithering idiot, the company sucks, the drive home was a screamer before I even left the parking lot AND the cat ripped the grills on the speakers" kinda days, well - Aerosmith, Led Zepplin, Everclear, and the Sex Pistols usually get me right. There's no hope for the cat, though!

I don't know if this falls under the "hair of the dog" category, but Bob Dylan is who I always turn to when I reach this level of down. Fortunately, it hasn't been more than a few times. I find belting out the tunes to be incredibly cathartic. The next day, I am usually fine.
Just about anything by Mozart does the trick for me; specially the wind concerti. After all, it's the only music that causes my pet bird to sing along (no kidding). Quick pick-me-up. Although I find that it's not always a specific composer but the performer that has that elusive "happy vibe". In a different vein, some of the jazz artists that have that happy feeling are Oscar Peterson, Ella, Tony Bennet, CANNONBALL ADDERLY, Zoot Sims and specially Louis Armstrong. If Louis doesn't put a smile on your face; get professional help immediately! If all else fails: Spike Jones.
Diana Krall "All for You" and Holly Cole "Don't Smoke in Bed"
End of relationship - Billie Holiday "Lady in Satin". Existential crisis - Bach's "Cello Suites". Looking for Salvation - Coltrane, " A Love Supreme". Angry at the world - The Clash, "London Calling" or "Black Market Clash".
I can see I'll be looking for some new music as a result of the posts on this thread. JD, your post was heavy, but know that you make the Audiogon chat room a more enjoyable place to visit. And like Detlof and others, music has helped pull me through some tough times too. Craig
Cowboy Junkies for pain. Cowboy Junkies for anger. Cowboy Junkies for frustration. But, when I am feeling good I listen to the Cowboy Junkies.
Sorry if mine got a bit too down, but I hope most of you will understand. I was just sharing myself so you can understand who I am. I find so much of the people on this site to be the best for a bad day. I enjoy the posts and the relationships we've made, so if I went too far, sorry, it's just sharing with people I enjoy. So with that, it's Coltrane tonight! J.D.
I didn't start this thread, but thanks for the great responses. Jadem6, I wish you the best. Some of my picks are James Taylor's, Secret Of Life, Paul Simon, American Tune, and too many to mention by Bob Dylan. For a lift, I love Whipping Post, by the Allman Brothers, who I am seeing tommorrow night at the Beacon Theater in NYC, and Hendrix' version of All along the Watchtower. Cornfedboy, I love your choice of Untouchable Face. Ani Difranco is one of my favorites. I am curious. Have you ever heard Dan Bern? He is a friend of Ani's, another underground artist. She produced one of his albums. He is irreverent, funny, angry,poltical,lewd, sarcastic and sentimental. He wrote an incredible song about violence in schools, called Kid's Prayer, that is a heart breaker. It is a single, that is available only from his web site, All proceeds go to victims of child abuse. Everytime we have another horror story in one of the schools, I think of that song.
The album I return to, time after time, for a lift is Miles Davis's "Kind of Blue" -- arguably the greatest jazz album of the past 50 years.
When I'm feeling very blue (with a touch of being P.O.'d) I put on Pink Floyd's "The Wall" - and then stay felling that way. When I'm down and want to mellow out, it's gotta be "To Our Children's Children's Children" by the Moody Blues. Actually, just about anything by the Moody Blues can mellow me out and cheer me up!
"Days of the New 2" for mellowing out, "Queens of the Stone Age" self titled, pretty much for anytime at all. But I have found a little known band called KYUSS they have songs for every mood.Their album "Sky Valley" is the most awesome album I have ever heard, closely followed by the above QOTSA album.BTW Josh Homme and Nick Oliveri from Queens of the Stone Age were founding members of KYUSS. Josh-Guit./Vocals and Nick-Bass/Vocals. KYUSS is sort of a cult band, and to me Josh is my favorite Guitarist of all time. Have a listen if you like heavier stuff. Cheers, Tim.
Even when times are at there toughest, one can not escape the up-lifting feeling one recieves from listening to Mapleshades recording of the ARC (Addicts Rehabilitation Center) Gospel Choir. All of the people within this choir were one foot in the grave drug addicts who have pulled them selves up from their boot straps and mended their ways. It is truly impossible to listen to this disc and hear the passion with which they sing and not be uplifted. I you are interested in this disc you can find it at This disc aside from being eminently uplifting is a spectacular recording(any one who knows of Mapleshade knows of there impecable recordings).
Thank-you for your thoughts Cornfed and Blbloom. I looked up Ani Difranco and there are two of the disc you recommend. One in '96 and a Japanese import '98 with bonus tracks. Any dirrection on wich? J.D.
Billy Holiday- "Billy's Blues"
Excellent post with some excellent responses and recommendations, especially those I agree with, (like the Moody Blues.) [:)]

There was a fund raiser on GPTV and Peach State Public Radio last night using a July concert by Bocelli at Ellis Island. I found his voice so beautiful that he actually allowed me to ignore the irritating presence of Sarah Brightman. I will have to keep him in mind.
Good post Craig. Treyhoss and Danvetc especially "To Our Children's Children Children" how about Floating? Gotta put a smile on your face. There are many pieces of music that really fit into different moods. I think the piece that would trancend all others for raising the spirit in me would be one of my favorite pieces of music for just that reason. Optimism, possibility, upbeat, vibrant and the ultimate goosebump factor just for its sheer brillance. For those of you not familiar, try Mozarts last movement of his 41st Symphony, but also give a listen to the whole piece. If works miracles on a morose mood.
1)To make me feel better: Louis Armstrong Wonderful World
or Jimmy Cliff I can see clearly now.
2)To take me from feeling blue to feeling blue and nostalgic: Duke Ellington, Autumn Leaves
3)To take me from feeling blue to feeling blue but defiant:
Bob Marley Redemption Song.
3)To take me from feeling blue to wallowing naked in my grief: Barber's adagio for strings or Suicide is painless.
4)To take me from blue to just damn angry: most Nirvana songs.
I go for Abbey Road. Vinyl of course. Takes me back to some happy times.
"Whipping Post" by the Allman Brothers Band. Title says it all.
Spike Jones
Forgive me for responding before Kat; but I would like to second her recommendation. (See my previous post above). There are times when the musical antics of Spike Jones or Peter Schikele are just the ticket to get me out of a funk. We music lovers/audiophiles are very passionate and serious about our music; let's not forget about the importance of a little humor. Cheers.
The Stone Coyotes, 50-something couple who've been in the business for 30 years, now a 3 person famly band with son/stepson. Wife Barbara Keith writes the songs, sings and plays guitar, husband Doug Tibbles plays drums and Doug's grown son plays bass. Rock.

Like Kath with humor, for me its music with a beat that lifts me up.

Also David Lindley and band, El Rayo X, Win This Record, Very Greasy (I think that's the album title), 3 albums in a series some years back. Reggae (with a sense of humor)/rock.
Kat and Frogman, my response was more to make sure, not to question, because apart from the serious stuff, which I posted above, Spike Jones is also for me a good antidote to a specific kind of the old morosity blues. By the way Kat& Frogman, are you aware of Mozart's musical jokes and their lyrics, which are quite Spike Jonesish themselves? Cheers,
Oh, I forgot...and sometimes its Frank Zappa at his bawdiest best....I must unblushingly admit.
On the rare occassion it seems appropriate to feel sorry for myself, to hit bottom, to *really* feel so down and out that everything else is looking up, nothing beats Patricia Barber's rendition of "Let It Rain" on the "Modern Cool" release.

As Ms. Barber sings "Come on, bring on the flood. Give my soul it's day in the mud." is about when things start looking a little blurry...
Almost any King Crimson album will pull me out of lousiness especially "Islands"
Ah yes, the dreaded last man on earth feeling... I pondered this one for a while. I was wondering whether, in fact, I did listen to music for such therapeutic use. I am still not sure if, in fact, I have specific doldrums music, but here goes:

When feeling low, I often go out to the record shops. The one obvious thing is that it gets you out of the house, but the other effect of this, in mulling it over, is that it satisfies, somewhat, the atavistic hunter instinct we seem to all have to a lesser or greater degree. The main thing though, is that being curious, it makes me look ahead to a new experience, instead of back with a penchant to wallowing in the tried and true. The joy of discovery, I guess. Nostalgia is not what it used to be. I guess the question is more in keeping with the notion of comfort food, so here goes insofar as records already on my shelf: for some reason the blues (often sad but not always, as most aficionados know) seems to take me out of that sad state of mind. Maybe it's the "hair of the dog" theory, who knows. I can't really believe that light, comic, silly music, like Spike Jones, would do the trick for me as well as Little Walter ("The Essential Little Walter"), Robert Nighthawk ("Live on Maxwell Street", "Bricks in my Pillow")or Junior Wells ("Hoodoo Man Blues"). Although far from the blues, but still on the blue side of life, "Streets of London" written by Ralph Mc Tell, whether performed by him or by Cleo Laine, have a similar effect. Jacques Brel can have the same beneficial effect, as does Irish music such as The Dubliner's "A Parcel of Rogues" EUCD 1061 ARC Music Productions or The Chieftans, especially the albums recorded live, the crowd often helps in sending that lonely feelinf packing. In closing, so that everything is not pathos, let me add Montserrat Caballé's "Music of Spain, Zarzuela Arias" which I never found on CD, or Victoria De Los Angeles "Zarzuela Arias" on EMI, Angel Studio on CD. So called "Do-Wop", in the light and lively genre, is one picker-upper also, how can the fun of these guys singing "Speedo", "Duke of Earl" or "Yakety Yak" not make you feel like there still is some good times to be had.
joy division, for sure. especially 'closer'
I'm glad to see that this thread is still picking up a few comments. Thanks to everyone who's posted, I've enjoyed all. I'll add a couple more: "Blues For The Homeless", various artists, and the real deal-- don't know if it's still available. Loreena McKennitt's ballads on "Whisper the Wild Water", and also Mai're Brennan's ballads on several of her CDs. I sincerely mean "Cheers". Craig.
I find that one of the many times my system and music collection pays for itself is during the "Tough Times". In heavy rotation during such times would be Enya's "Exile", Chris Isaak's "Wicked Game" and "Blue Spanish Sky", Sarah McLachlan's "Angel" and Nirvana's "Where Did You Sleep Last Night". Even though these are not upbeat or 'happy' songs their slow, brooding rhythm helps me inch out of the doldrums.
End of relation: either 'Broken hearts are for assholes' by Zappa or Joe Jackson's Nocturne. Just one of those days: Slayer-Reign in blood. Existential crisis: Savatage-Streets. Just plain happy (Yeah! Like that ever happens!): everything from David Lee Roth. So much for culture!
Daniel Lanois and Patricia Barber have helped me too
Also Mahler's third, first t and last movements, I have about 8 different recordings of it and they all work well even if in different ways
Janis Ian Breaking Silence
Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan Live in Paris
Ghazal's three albums
Lou Reed's Berlin
Laurie Anderson's Strange Angels
Ravi Shankar and Yehudi Mehuhin's West Meets East
Ray Bryant plays the blues
John Handy's Karuna Supreme
This thread reminds me of one of the fundamental axioms of
the human condition: You can't decide / control what you
feel, but you CAN control the environment which you respond to. And for this purpose: The sounds of silence, by Simon and Garfunkle.

The Chimpmonks! that will cheer you up!
The Call "Let the Day Begin". Up elevator
Beethoven "Moonlight Sonata". Down elevator.
Supersession, with Mike Bloomfield, Al Kooper, and Stephen Stills. A couple of the cuts truely suck (Kooper gets self-indulgent on the organ), but the rest are as good as electric blues gets.