Album Review: Laurel Halo’s "Dust"

By Robert Masiello

One of the most beautiful, strange, and harrowing scenes in David Lynch’s “Mulholland Drive” occurs at Club Silencio. It’s a dark, seedy theatre where the film’s protagonists witness a series of surreal performances. The evening’s host warns the crowd, “It is all an illusion,” adding mystique to the already feverish production. The finale is a thunderous rendition of Roy Orbison’s “Crying,” sung in Spanish by Rebekah Del Rio, which leaves the audience visibly shaken. In Club Silencio, nothing is what it seems, and nothing is without meaning.

In some ways, Laurel Halo’s new album “Dust” sounds like it could be an appropriate soundtrack to Club Silencio. It’s all moving parts, shifting shapes, and elusive voices that create a sound as sophisticated as it is unfathomable. Nothing is ever quite what it seems, as even the bright bounciness of a track like “Moontalk” is offset by a disconcerting queasiness. It’s fun, but not careless.

This sense of atmosphere isn’t necessarily new for Halo, and yet “Dust” still feels like a rebirth of sorts for the artist. Her voice makes an appearance for the first time since “Quarantine,” and she’s joined by collaborators such as Lafawndah and Michael Salu. It’s warmer than the icy throb of “Chance of Rain,” and perhaps more organic sounding than anything she’s released to date.

But the earthiness is somewhat of a front. By confronting a listener with familiar sounding instruments, Halo manipulates our perception of familiarity. With lyrics such as, “My eyes, back there in the mirror where I left them,” the human voice often disorients more than it comforts in these songs.

Back in Club Silencio, in one of the most famous lines of “Mulholland Drive,” the performing magician informs viewers, “No hay banda. There is no band.” He’s admitting that the cinematic music playing is synthetic, a pre-recording. But more importantly, he’s alluding to the illusion of our own universe, and perhaps hinting at dimensions yet undiscovered by humans.

By turns inscrutable and transcendent, “Dust” raises similar questions about the nature of our existence. Voices decorate the collages of sound, but not always Halo’s own. Everyday noises (such as a dropped call tone) appear in alien contexts, forcing a listener to re-examine what we accept as normal. The album’s penultimate track asks, “Did this ever happen?/Do you ever happen?”

Halo clearly had fun creating this music; it’s chaotic, energetic, and collaborative. But like a funhouse mirror, it just may distort your reality a bit.

The Writer’s Guide To Music Archives

9 Situational Songs for Summer 2017

By Mike Nelson

What’s your song of the summer? It’s a question everyone always wants to know right before Bieber drops new tracks that give us a direct answer.

I consider myself “very qualified” to recommend good music. I consider myself “barely qualified” to predict what will be a hit song, as my music judgment typically ignores commercial success and radio airtime.

So instead of giving you a list of contenders for “Song of the Summer” and just re-hashing the work Rob did (okay, we do overlap on one song...come at me, Rob), I’m giving you something a little different.

Summer presents many different situations and emotions. Being outdoors more and interacting with humans will do that. So to prepare you for those interactionswith me, for yourself, for you to encounter, whatever they may be—I give you my Situational Songs of Summer 2017.

If this comes on at a wedding, I’m going absolutely bananas, and my gin and tonic is inadvertently spilling all over your nephew please get him off the dance floor right now I promise this will be quick.

I'm throwing a hipster dance party, which is really just an '80s dance party with stupider hair and less attention to hygiene for whatever reason.

I don’t care if it came out last year, this is the first summer this song has been around, and I’m going to embrace it because it is universally enjoyable and fits summer perfectly.

I’m an aged hipster and I want in on this '80s-style dance party, but I kinda fell out of touch and shower every day. These guys are still cool, right?

I can’t stand “stadium country,” but I like a little twang, and this is a good compromise for me and my country-loving friends while we take a long drive.

My friends visited from overseas two weeks ago, and they introduced me to this song...soooooo good!

Sitting on a porch, staring out at a lake with a bottle of moonshine, and I have no idea how I got here.

I need something on my summer playlist that says I’m cooler and more culturally aware than I actually am.

My son and his friends want to drive around and play “mailbox baseball,” but they only have their learner’s permits, so guess who gets to drive and has no say in what we listen to.

The Definitive Summer 2017 Playlist

By Robert Masiello

There’s a lot to worry about these days. This summer hardly seems to be rolling in with the joyous optimism we’d typically associate with the season. There’s much to be said about our country’s political and social climate, but it’s all been said elsewhere and better. At the risk of triteness, we ask our readers and friends to please remember to please take care of yourselves in these times. You can worry, you can be angry, but dance when you want to dance. On that note, Writer’s Bone presents to you the definitive Summer 2017 Playlist.

Carly Rae Jepsen: “Cut to the Feeling”

If you haven’t given Carly Rae Jepsen much thought since her ubiquitous single “Call Me Maybe,” now is your chance to fix that. This recently-released track is essentially an outtake from her impeccable sophomore album “Emotion,” and it’s euphoric in a way that that much modern pop music has abandoned. In contrast to the cool indifference that has yet to unleash it’s grip on pop stars, Jepsen’s unabashed excitement is infectious. “I wanna play where you play with the angels,” she begs in the chorus, but she’s already there.

Drake: “Passionfruit”

Drake’s “Passionfruit” is the musical equivalent of Valium. It’s so smooth, so hypnotic, that’s it’s barely there. And yet, miraculously, it somehow dodges slightness and becomes almost transcendent. It would sound equally appropriate in the club, on the beach, or in the bedroom. That seductive beat seems inspired by dancehall as much as Chicago house, and it’s a testament to Drake’s skill that he turned these influences into a track that feels so effortless.

Lorde: “Green Light”

Did “Green Light” flop? The first taste of Lorde’s upcoming album lit up the Internet blogosphere upon release back in March, but never really made an impact on the radio charts. Even though “Green Light” lacks the dub-influenced production qualities, which made her debut album so compelling, it's an intoxicating banger that captures a night out in all its messy glory. Despite teetering close to cliché with lines like “I hear sounds in my mind” mumbled over a jangly piano, Lorde’s grasp on the arrangement keeps this song dazzling until the last note.

Mary J. Blige: “Find the Love”

If anyone can pull a song like this off, it’s the queen herself, Mary J Blige. Nothing groundbreaking here, just MJ doing her best to keep hateration and holleration out of the dancery. This cut off her latest release is rhythmic, groovy, and unerringly optimistic. The words might be a little on-the-nose, but her relentless pursuit of unity is perhaps just what the world needs most.

Francis and the Lights: “May I Have This Dance (Remix) [feat. Chance the Rapper]”

Francis and the Lights’ neon-bright production has attracted the attention of big-name stars like Kanye and Bon Iver. Here, he teams up with Chance for a remix of album highlight “May I Have This Dance.” It’s almost shamelessly un-hip, proudly recalling Phil Collins or Peter Gabriel. But the booming chorus, tropical beats, and subtly apocalyptic undertones (“we are bound to inherit the sins of our parents”) keep it grounded firmly in the present.

Danny L. Harle: “1UL”

The PC Music label has been nothing if not divisive since it’s inception in 2013. But it would be unfair for even the label’s most devout naysayers to argue with Danny L. Harle’s infectious club anthems. “1UL” might be his best song yet, with a drop so monstrous that you just may miss the achingly lovesick lyrics. No one said you can’t cry at the club.

Ian William Craig: “Contain (Cedar Version)”

Here’s one for after the guests have left. Ian William Craig typically drapes his classically-trained tenor over atmospheric drone and tape-hiss. On this version of “Contain,” however, a gentle guitar strum is the only thing accompanying him. Existing somewhere in the overlap of love song, lullaby, and lament, “Contain (Cedar Version)” sounds best when paired with the glowing embers of a fading bonfire.

The Writer’s Guide To Music Archives

A Letter to Charles Bradley

By Mike Nelson

22 December 2016
Mr. Charles Bradley
PO Box 296
Brooklyn, NY 11216

Mr. Bradley,

I have a story to tell you. It’s not the greatest story, and if you want to take a cynical look at it, it’s of little consequence in the grand scheme of life. That’s how stories tend to be most times anyway, seemingly inconsequential but for the entertainment they provide. This paragraph and the one that follows aren’t really part of the story, they’re just me framing the story in a way that I can both send it to you and have you understand what it is, and also publish it online and have the other “you” (the online reader) understand it just as well.

Maybe you’ll read this yourself, or maybe someone else will open this and share it with you wherever, and however, you may be. And maybe it’ll bring a smile to his or her face just as I hope it will yours. And that’s, in short, the whole reason I’m sharing it. I want it to make your day better. When I saw someone post your address and ask for hope to be sent your way, I took that as a call to arms, but I didn’t quite know what to say. And then it came to me.

I have to tell him about Ricky.

Ricky got to the festival late. It was the last weekend of May, so there was plenty of sunlight and warmth left in the day regardless of what time he arrived, but he was late nonetheless. Why was he late? Ask Ricky. My memory’s not good enough for that, and I didn’t bring my steno to City Hall Plaza that day. Ricky and his wife had a pair of tickets to Boston Calling, and she unfortunately fell ill and couldn’t make it. But Ricky came anyway, even though it was too late to see the best acts of the day. He had tickets. Why not?

Ricky and I were just acquaintances. I’d say after that day we were closer to friends, but leading up to it the only way we were connected was through Instagram. We didn’t even have each other’s phone numbers. When Ricky saw I was at the festival—the moment when I published of a picture of you, Mr. Bradley, on my account—it sparked a conversation on Instagram, and a phone number exchange, and that’s the glamor-less story of how Ricky and I met up at Boston Calling earlier this year.

Because of the low quality of my iPhone, my data, along with all my text messages, has been wiped out multiple times since the festival, otherwise I would go back and see the exact details of what time Ricky arrived, what I said about you, and a slew of other things that have little or nothing to do with this story. If I had to estimate, I’d say Ricky got to the festival either right before or right after Janelle Monae’s performance, which was obviously a spectacle, as it always is (this was my third time seeing her). All I really know about when Ricky arrived was that he was definitely there for the start of the closing act, Disclosure, who came on stage around 9:30 p.m.

Disclosure is a duo of DJs that apparently likes to get on stage and pretend like they’re playing instruments that contribute to the quality of the sounds the audience is hearing (they don’t). They’re DJs. They could just stand on stage and eat pistachios for 90 minutes, and it would sound exactly the same. But instead they sporadically thumped bass guitar strings and a miniature drum kit to give the audience the impression that they did not waste their money to see them (we did). I already had my money’s worth though because I saw Janelle, I saw Vince Staples, I saw you, Mr. Bradley, and I saw Unknown Mortal Orchestra. That was well worth the price of admission for me.

But Ricky couldn’t say that. Ricky missed the best stuff. I told him what it was like to see The Screaming Eagle of Soul—a man in his late 60s who was just now breaking through as a solo act and put every act around him to shame. A man who carries the essence of what it means to put on a performance in the core of his being, so you can never walk away disappointed. The voice, the energy, the moves, the passion—he lays it all out there, I told Ricky. And then, once Ricky was done kicking himself for missing your set, Mr. Bradley, I let him in on a little secret.

A bit later in the night—later than a normal concert time, but not so late that you could get there after the festival—Charles Bradley & His Extraordinaires would be putting on another show. It was at The Sinclair, just across the Charles River in Cambridge, no more miles than you could count on your hand. I told Ricky this, and a twinkle in his eye suggested his mind was doing a bit more than just processing that information. He was trying to figure out what to do with it.

And so about two songs into the Disclosure performance, Ricky tapped me and told me he was leaving. He was coming to see you, Mr. Bradley. I not only understood why he was leaving, but I was jealous of Ricky in that moment. Now I was the one figuring out what experience I’d be missing. But I stood pat. Twice in one day was a bit much, I thought at the time. But of course today, knowing the show I stayed to see and imagining the show I missed, I regret that. Because a few hours later Ricky texted me, now that we had each other’s numbers, to say that you put on the greatest concert he had ever seen.

A few weeks back, maybe even a month ago now, I saw someone post through your Facebook account that you were accepting letters from fans while you fight stomach cancer. I don’t need to tell you or anyone else about the loss the music business has suffered this year, and I don’t need to tell you or anyone else how that has affected me, but I can tell you this, Mr. Bradley. In the brief moments when our paths have crossed, you have given me not just entertainment but an experience.

Everyone who has seen you perform knows what I mean, and I’m sure you know as well. You’re different. You’re the best kind of different. You are who you want to be on that stage, and you love it, and everyone can feel that you love it. And that makes you contagious. For a moment, for an hour, for however long the crowd is in your presence we are not just enjoying the show but jealous of the man we watch. And I can’t wait to see that again, on a stage somewhere, anywhere, in 2017. Neither can Ricky.

All my best,

Mike Nelson

Check out more from Mike Nelson on his blog Mostly America. Follow him on Twitter @MostlyAmerica

The Writer’s Guide to Music Archives

Feel-Good Friday: 6 Joshua Radin Songs To Soothe Your Soul

Photo credit: Stephanie Schaefer

Photo credit: Stephanie Schaefer

By Daniel Ford

I wanted to pay forward some advice that singer-songwriting Joshua Radin shared during his appearance at Boston’s Wilbur Theatre this past Wednesday. He said he was really nervous and unsure of himself when he first started touring, and someone told him that he needed to ditch his envy and his fear.

Naturally, he wrote a song about it, fittingly titled, “No Envy No Fear.” The opening lyrics are perfect advice for any troubled creative type.

Some are reaching, few are there/Want to reign from a hero's chair/Some are scared to fly so high/Well this is how we have to try/Have no envy and no fear

Here are nine more songs to help soothe your soul


Key lyrics for writers: They keep talking at me/I can't hear what they're saying/I need somewhere I can go/Underwater is where I'll go

“Brand New Day”

Key lyrics for writers: Most kind of stories/Save the best part for last/And most stories have a hero who finds/You make your past your past


Key lyrics for writers: The rain falls over your face/Drowned in this place too long/Well I know that the sun shines and fights for your day/You hear it say be strong, and let it go....

“My My Love”

Key lyrics for writers: So many moons have come and gone all alone/I heard this song inside me to wait/I was told but now I found a different sound/I hear when you're around me/It's something new because of you/I hope I hear it forever

“Tomorrow Is Gonna Be Better”

Key lyrics for writers: Sometimes it's easier to hit the road/When the world is givin' you a heavy load/But if you stay and face it, I know.../Tomorrow is gonna be better

The Writer’s Guide to Music Archives

Sweet Soul: 10 Amos Lee Songs You Should Add To Your Writing Playlist

Amos Lee at the Boston Opera House on Sept. 9. Photo courtesy of Amos Lee's Facebook page

Amos Lee at the Boston Opera House on Sept. 9. Photo courtesy of Amos Lee's Facebook page

By Daniel Ford

I wrote large swaths of my novel listening to singer-songwriter Amos Lee, so I was thrilled I got to see him perform live this past weekend at the Boston Opera House. Never before in my concert-going experience has the venue and performer been such a perfect match. Lee’s soulful, distinctive voice boomed throughout the performance, adding even more weight to his deep lyrics and vocals.

He also gave a shout out to all the teacher’s in the crowd (and there were a considerable number). He said he started out as a teacher, playing live mic nights in town while trying to keep his dream of becoming a recording artist alive.

“Teachers should have an appreciation month,” Lee said, to wild applause. “Have the parents teach for a day and they'd say pay those teachers whatever they want.”

For my money, there is no better artist to write to, particularly if you are breaking your main character's heart repeatedly. Here are 10 songs you should add to your writing playlist ASAP.

“Keep It Loose, Keep It Tight”

Key lyrics: But the people on the street/Out on buses or on feet/We all got the same blood flow/Oh, in society/Every dollar got a deed/We all need a place so we can go/And feel over the rainbow.

The song that started it all. My brothers first saw Amos Lee open for Bob Dylan some time in the mid-2000s, and they got me hooked with this tune. Lee points out in the above video that he wrote the song about his hometown of Philadelphia, but I’ll always think of the first love of my life, New York City, when I hear it. “Keep It Loose, Keep It Tight “ was on repeat while I was writing many of the New York scenes in my novel, and I hope some of Lee’s brilliant songwriting and world building seeped into my prose and dialogue.

“Seen It All Before”

Key lyrics: I've seen your tricks/and seen your trade-offs/I've seen your evil ways/I've seen everything/your twisted smile conveys.

Thanks in large part to this song, my main character did see it all, and then some!

“Arms of A Woman”

Key lyrics: I am at ease in the arms of a woman/Although now, most of my days I spend alone/A thousand miles, place I was born/When she wakes me, she takes me back home.

Yes, I’m aware these first three songs are also the first three songs off of Lee’s self-titled 2005 debut album. That’s quite the “Hello!” from a new artist, huh?!

I’m also willing to bet that if my main character Sid Sanford was an actual person, he’d choose this song to define his life.

“Night Train”

Key lyrics: And I'm living in the city/Where the noise, it never stops/Hammers pounding on the pavement/Whistles from traffic cops.

I once ran into a guy I knew in high school on a trip back to New York City via Metro North. He was happy to see me, less because we hadn’t talked to each other in years and more because he had someone to drink with. We took turns taking pulls from a bottle of Jack Daniels as the train lurched its way to the city.

Whenever I hear this song, I think about that night, and all the others I spent riding the rails between my actual home and my adopted one.

“Chill in the Air”

Key lyrics: Well, the morning came like a freight train.

I couldn’t get the above lyric out of my head for a long time. It definitely influenced my revamped prologue and some of the more harrowing moments of my novel. There’s also a hint of optimism in this tune that fights against the darkness.


Key lyrics: I can't even close my eyes now/Between the big fish and ambition, and the lovers/Using words as ammunition/Between the warped planks I've been pacing endless/Impossible dream that I've been chasing

Those lyrics kind of say it all, don’t they? Writing is a motherfucker, and “Violin” perfectly describes the worry, angst, heartache, and desperate hopefulness that fuel the creative process. We’re all just waiting for someone to pull us through.

“What’s Been Going On”

Key lyrics: Those are some of my favorite memories/All of those carefree melodies/While I'm out of here on this raging sea/About to capsize

Again, I thoroughly enjoyed torturing Sid. If we were to have an actual conversation, I’m sure that he’d ask me, “What’s going on?”

“Windows Rolled Down”

Key lyrics: Corn rows have companion feel /This rocky road and this steering wheel/Who do you call to ease your pain/I hope for you to get through this rain

I didn’t realize how many traveling songs Lee pumped out! There’s something about travel and writing that go together. No wonder Amtrak runs that promotion for free rides across the country for aspiring authors.

Anyway, this song reminds me of my brothers. I can imagine us with the windows rolled down headed to our next concert. I hope I did their spirits justice on the page (I also hope that one day they will get to read said pages!).


Key lyrics: Oh I've been waiting up so long/I've been sleeping out so long in the rain/Rain been pouring down/I've been stressing all the time/I can't seem to find/A little piece of mind

Like any good live show, Lee’s Boston Opera performance made me run out and download his new album "Spirit." I haven’t had much time to develop favorites yet, but this one is at the top of the list so far.

“The Man Who Wants You”

Key lyrics: Misty mouth lady, won’t you borrow me tonight/I ain’t having the same one/He did not treat you right/I don’t want you to be untrue/I don’t want you to be untrue/But the truth is, I’m the man who wants you

Always good to end on an upbeat, hoppin’, booty-shaking note on a Monday! Plus, how many music videos feature vinyl being pressed?! 

The Writer’s Guide to Music Archives

Album Review: Frank Ocean's 'Blonde'

By Robert Masiello

Frank Ocean’s long-awaited follow-up to "Channel Orange" is marred by distractions. Its long gestation is a distraction. The visual “teaser” album Endless (which dropped days before the proper album) is a distraction. His tumultuous relationship with record label Def Jam is a distraction. 

And while these distractions do generate well-deserved hype, they also, in a way, detract from the 28-year-old songwriter’s own humanity. Ocean himself acknowledges this on the final track: “Sometimes I feel like I’m a god, but I’m not a god, if I was I don’t know which heaven would have me.” The hype surrounding "Blonde" essentially morphed into a sense of entitlement. Fans didn’t want a new Frank Ocean album, they deserved one. 

Delay after delay, one speculated release date after another, and many cryptic hints later, "Blonde" finally came to fruition. It’s a long, shapeshifting beast that showcases its creator’s many talents. Unlike "Channel Orange," which consisted of songs seemingly written from the perspective of distinct characters, "Blonde" delves deep into Ocean’s own psyche as a songwriter and human being. 

The first track on "Blonde." and a single, “Nikes” is somewhat of a red herring, but still no less than a classic. Ocean’s voice is mechanically altered, as if a vocoder is gripping his lungs. It also contains the album’s most obvious social commentary, while the rest is more confessional in nature. Ocean effortlessly denounces materialism, but the real-gut punch comes when he addresses even darker corners of our country’s political and social climate. “RIP Trayvon, that kid looked just like me,” he eulogizes, his voice warped yet somehow still resigned. It’s the first show-stopping moment on an album littered with them. 

Elsewhere, "Blonde" blossoms with expert song craft, the kind that forces you to pause and rewind 30 seconds to hear certain segments again. “White Ferrari” begins innocuously, until about the two-minute mark, when Ocean’s multi-tracked vocals swell up over a light guitar strum. It builds like a storm as Ocean, in possibly his most moving vocal performance to date, wails “Mind over matter is magic/I do magic,” and the instrumentation becomes chaotic. He could have chosen to ride this wave of distortion and vocal prowess for at least another minute, but instead everything quickly simmers, segueing into a hallucinatory poem recited by Justin Vernon. It’s an interesting trick on Ocean’s part, not quite giving a listener the full climax they expect. But like a true artist, he leaves the listener begging for more.

The 17 tracks here flourish with guest appearances, none of which overshadow Ocean himself. Even Beyonce’s contribution is limited to a few hushed vocal runs on the sublime, dreamy “Pink and White.” Andre 3000 is given the most prominent appearance, and he rips through a verse that’s equal parts yearning and resilient. Sonically, the album features elements of classic rock and psychedelia in ways that recall Miguel’s "Wildheart," although "Blonde" is far more stripped-down and intimate. 

"Blonde" pauses for a few unconventional interludes. The first is “Be Yourself,” which is actually an authentic voicemail from the mother of Ocean’s childhood friend. The speaker advices “Be yourself and know that that’s good enough… Do not consume alcohol, do not smoke marijuana… This is Mom, call me, bye.” A cursory glimpse of the full transcript may lead someone to assume Ocean is mocking this woman, but the reality seems to be that he is expressing a profound respect for her. Her words and guidance are immortalized by including them on this record. Later in the album, French producer SebastiAn reflects upon technology’s influence on modern relationships. 

Even when "Blonde" deals with longing and unrequited love, the lyrics never veer into jealousy or retribution. “Keep a place for me,” goes the chorus of “Self Control,” “I’ll sleep between ya’ll, it’s nothing.” On “Godspeed” he promises another, “You’ll have this place to call home, always.” He could be addressing a lover, an ex, or a family member, and the song’s ambiguity only adds to the overwhelming power of his words. Gospel singer Kim Burrell hovers over the track’s final minute like a ghost, pledging love “until the time we die.” The whole thing could easily come off as hackneyed, but it’s unflinching sincerity elevates it to something more like a prayer than a song.

Upon first listen, "Blonde" hardly feels like a radical album. It’s too aurally pleasant, and too introverted. It is at times political, though hardly radical in that sense. Even Ocean’s much-publicized bisexuality hardly feels radical anymore. But "Blonde" is radical in its commitment to love. Throughout the course of the album, Ocean expands upon his love of music, romantic love, love for himself, love for his mother, love for a black child whose life was taken too soon.

Uncertainty and doubt are explored with a certain gracefulness utterly lacking in most modern pop. He is warm and empathetic at a time when icy detachment is more fashionable. And in a world that constantly feels like it’s breaking apart at the seams, it’s hard to imagine an album more important than this one.

More From The Writer's Guide to Music

Get On Up: 5 Songs to Make You Smile While You Work

Photo courtesy of Grammerly

Photo courtesy of Grammerly

By Daniel Ford

During our recent podcast at Brookline Booksmith with a foursome of horror authors, Sean Tuohy asked an intriguing question:

Can writers talk about happy things?

Sure, authors spend a lot of time torturing main characters—both emotionally and physically—but they must be able to unplug and enjoy things like a bouquet of puppies or a surprisingly warm review from The New York Times, right?

To find the answer to Sean’s question, I compiled five songs that just might melt your brooding writer façade. Feel free to add your own happy tunes in the comments section or tweet us @WritersBone.

“Take It Slow” by The Mallett Brothers Band

Key lyrics: You can't slow down/You can't sit still/But the morning comes like they always will/When the sun comes up you gotta fill that cup /And your flat tire runs on the ground/And you're getting real low cause you're hanging round/Baby, can't you see/You gotta let it be

Maybe those pages kicked your ass today. Maybe you got some bad news from a literary agent or publisher. Maybe you’re screaming at your blinking cursor as if it’s the root cause of all your subpar ideas.

Your motor may always be running, but you can’t let it overheat. Take The Mallett Brothers Band’s advice: Take it slow for a couple minutes and “just let it slide.”

“Hold On” by Alabama Shakes

Key lyrics: You got to come on up/You got to hold on.

When Brittany Howard tells you to get on up, you do it!

“You Make Me Feel So Young” by Frank Sinatra

Key lyrics: The moment that you speak/I wanna go play hide-and-seek/I wanna go and bounce the moon/Just like a toy balloon

Obligatory Frank Sinatra song. But seriously, you can’t feel anything but young, fresh, and in love when you listen to this tune. You’ll also want to run through the park like Phoebe from “Friends.”

“This Magic Moment” by The Drifters

Key lyrics: Sweeter than wine/Softer than the summer night/Everything I want I have/Whenever I hold you tight

Yeah, I know, this song is used every time the boy finds the girl, kisses the girl, or wins the girl in any movie or television show set in the 1960s. You know why? Because this song never fucking gets old. You’d have to be heartless to find any fault with it. Plus, Michael “Squints” Palledorous…

“How Bad We Need Each Other” by Marc Scibilia

Key lyrics: You know I can get so high on myself sometimes/I keep on drifting a million miles from this planet/But what a shame it would be to look back on our life/And realize that I've taken you and me for granted/Not gonna do it now

Boy, do we badly need the sentiments found in Marc Scibilia’s exuberant, hopeful lyrics or what? The world is a mess, which is all the more reason we should find ways to stick together and stay positive rather than shrink from the gruesome news and divide ourselves.   

The Writer's Guide to Music Archives