DAVID L. GARCIA
On the morning after Election Day, I left my house in a daze, wandering to the bus stop with my mind churning from the onslaught of suck that had arrived the night before. I usually listen to music during my commute, but on Wednesday morning I was lost. Everything I put on sounded wrong.
Happy music sounded fake, like it was mocking me, and sad songs were no comfort, making me feel despondent, like I was wallowing in self-pity and misery. Soft, quiet music was too delicate, too easily overwhelmed by the acidic truths that kept welling up out of my Twitter account. Loud, powerful music was almost too validating; crunchy distortion or angry lyrics too far removed me from the reality of bitter, bitter defeat. I tugged out my earbuds and sat in silence at the back of the bus, staring out the window.
As the week went on, and the shock subsided, I felt a bit more comfortable. By the time I hosted my weekly KUSF show on Friday afternoon, I had some songs on my mind:
Hey Hey, My My (Into The Black) by Neil Young
I couldn’t fault you for listening to this song’s poignant acoustic alter-ego, “My My, Hey Hey (Into The Blue),” but the day after the election, I needed the indomitable crunch of the louder version. Neil Young and his longtime backing band, Crazy Horse, gutpunch you with one of the sludgiest riffs in rock n’ roll history, while the desolate lyrics keep you grounded, unable to escape into the feedback and distortion.
Home Is Where The Hatred Is by Gil Scott-Heron
Gil Scott-Heron, the poet and proto-rapper behind the monumental “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised,” writes songs that manage to convey worlds of emotional pain through smooth, jazzy beats and a voice that pleads as much as it croons. Even if your own life has been nothing but peaches and cream, a song like this can slam you into the harsh reality of America like nothing else.
True Blue by Dirty Beaches
Comfort yourself with this track from eclectic Canadian electronic artist Dirty Beaches: a fuzzy bundle of hypnotic, lo-fi joy that manages to sound like something a pair of lovesick teenage robots would slow dance to at senior prom. “True Blue” is maybe the only song I could play three times in a row and not grow tired of; the doo-wop-flavored riff only improves with repetition.
You Want It Darker by Leonard Cohen
The title track from the legendary singer/poet’s final album, this song has one of the most sinister bass grooves possibly ever, and features Cohen’s trademark rasp gliding over haunting choral arrangements. He died the day before election day (RIP), but left behind a tune like this to remember him by. Perfect for a dreary day.
Icky Thump by The White Stripes
“White Americans, what?!/Nothing better to do?/Why don’t you kick yourself out?/You’re an immigrant too!?/Who’s usin’ who?/What should we do?/Well you can’t be a pimp/And a prostitute too.” Sure, these powerful lyrics are being delivered by a pasty white guy from Detroit, but accompanied by the throbbing drive of Meg White’s drums and the chaotic squeal of Jack White’s synthesizer improvisations, this song has an almost caffeinating effect, perfect for a pre-protest perk up.