‘Aphex Twin is pouring water on my meltdowns’: Guardian readers on the songs that soothe them | Music
STephanie Grisham, Donald Trump’s former press secretary, claimed this week that on occasion, in order to calm the president’s fury, an aide would be brought in to play him his favorite music – including Memory from the musical Cats .
In light of the revelation, we asked our readers which songs they use to calm down in times of high stress.
The first is Discreet Music by Brian Eno, of a 1975 album of the same name. It lasts half an hour – I’ve often used it at night when I can’t fall asleep. It’s like climbing into a big warm bed of beautiful synths. The second is Radiohead‘s Kid A, with Thom Yorke’s vocals sung through a vocoder and those complex synths. Plus U2 try to throw your arms around the world, who sounds like someone, still slightly drunk, maybe a little stoned, in the early hours of the morning, surrounded by loved ones. Daniel Jack Paproth, 31, Melbourne, Australia, Communications Manager
My favorite song in times of stress. Along with her exquisite vocals and the simplicity and soothing impact of the piano and tin whistle, this song is a call for stillness. It is a call to take a step back from the brilliance of life. Enda McCaffrey, 60, Belfast, retired academic
I mainly listen to new age music or old rock’n’roll, but I’ve always liked to sing. Om Mani Padme Hum is my favorite soothing song and sometimes I listen to it on repeat; another is Dean Evenson’s album Ascension to Tibet. Christie Abraham, 73, Long Island, New York, retired
Normally, I can’t stand being told to breathe when I’m stressed, but in this song, the words “just breathe” really work. Also, there are lyrics about remembering that this is a temporary situation. Good advice! Natalie Hardiman, 32, Hertfordshire
A song that brings back childhood memories for me, and dear friends who are no longer with us. It reminds me of a time when hopes were high and dreams were considered attainable. It claws, albeit gently, at the heart and somehow sadly but soothingly calms the soul. Kevin Bailey, 64, Bath, retired plumber
My soothing song is Ordinary World by Duran Duran. In addition to the ethereal music, the lyrics of the piece remind me that despite the sometimes overwhelming feeling, this is not a one-time experience and what I feel is temporary. It also reminds me that I have agency and can work to get to a place where I feel more comfortable. Meagan Newhart, 50, New York, interior designer
Abusey Junction by Kokoroko. I am a psychology student and used to volunteer for the charity Body & Soul, which helps those who have experienced childhood trauma. When I hosted group sessions, I always started them with this song. It’s such warm and soothing music. Siobhan, 39, Camberley, Surrey
The one that always has a soothing effect on me is So What from Miles Davis’ 1959 album Kind of Blue. It’s like a warm blanket, and it’s been a part of my life since the day I was born because it was one of my parents’ favorite songs. It reminds me of quiet, warm evenings in my childhood home. Julien Beghain, 37, Norwich, software engineer
A song that stops me cold every time I hear the opening notes. This makes me close my eyes and take a deep breath. I often turn to Radiohead when I don’t know what else to listen to, but this particular track shuts me down from everything else and I just let it overwhelm me. Jerry Ahern, 40, Dublin, computer scientist
It’s so calming. Just these lyrics remind me again and again that this bad feeling – whatever it is – will pass. I listen on my way for events that scare me, like parties and work events, and whenever I feel overwhelmed. It’s a cover of an old Sidney Carter song. Everyone should have it in their back pocket (or ears). Lisa Heledd Jones, 41, Glyndyfrdwy, North Wales, digital storyteller
If he’s in a hurry to pick a single track that can in its opening few seconds pour some water on the fusion vibe, I can always count on Avril 14th from Aphex Twin. For all the countless songs whose lyrics move and soothe me, Avril 14th says the same in an instrumental, through its soft piano plink-plonk letting the listener fill in the gaps. I’ve heard it cover what must be hundreds of times in different styles and on different instruments, but this deceptively simple but brilliant little shifting riff and loop never loses its potency. An extraordinary piece by an artist whose specialty is to surprise his listeners. Sean Willcox, 28, Bath, commercial property law
It differs so distinctly from his other body of work – the opening bars of a lo-fi beat are followed by a simple piano riff and relaxed, soothing vocals, which, to me, inspire feelings of warm evenings spent on a balcony as the sky slowly darkens. It reminds me of when we were coming out of lockdown in June 2020 – it was hot and we spent a lot of time on the balcony. Later, the vocals become almost sickening, upbeat and a bit absurd, backed by horns. Can’t be beat for vibes. Joe Coyle, 27, Isle of Man, Chartered Accountant
Peace Piece by Bill Evans. A supreme pianist who played on Kind of Blue by Miles Davis. His introspection is almost palpable in his chord arrangement. Calm, thoughtful. Lowers blood pressure in seconds. Richard Storey, 82, Bristol, pensioner, aspires to become a DJ for retirement homes