‘Aphex Twin pours water on my meltdowns’: Guardian readers on the songs that calm them down | Music

sTephanie Grisham, Donald Trump’s former press secretary, claimed this week that an occasional assistant would be called in to play him his favorite music, including Memory from the musical Cats, to calm the president’s anger.

In light of the reveal, we asked our readers what songs they used to calm themselves during times of high stress.

Daniel Jack Paproth. Photo: Craig Sillitoe

The first is the discreet music of Brian Eno, from a 1975 album of the same name. It’s half an hour long – 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, featuring Thom Yorke’s vocals, sung by a vocoder and those intricate synths. Also U2 tries to throw your arms around the worldwhich sounds like someone, still a little drunk, maybe a little high, in the early morning hours, surrounded by loved ones. Daniel Jack Paproth, 31, Melbourne, Australia, communications manager

My favorite song in times of stress. In addition to her exquisite voice and the simplicity and soothing impact of the piano and tin whistle, this song evokes tranquility. It is a call to distance yourself from the luster of life. Enda McCaffrey, 60, Belfast, retired academic

Christie Abraham
Christie Abraham

I mainly listen to new age music or old rock’n’roll, but I’ve always liked singing. Om Mani Padme Hum is my favorite soothing song and sometimes I listen to it in a loop; another is Dean Evenson’s album Ascension to Tibet. Christie Abraham, 73, Long Island, New York, retired

Normally I can’t stand someone telling me to breathe when I’m stressed, but in this song the words “just breathe” really work. Plus, there are lyrics about just remembering that this is a temporary situation. Good advice! Natalie Hardiman, 32, Hertfordshire

A song that brings back memories of childhood and of dear friends who are no longer with us. It reminds me of a time when expectations were high and dreams were thought possible. It claws, albeit gently, into one’s heart and somehow sadly but soothingly calms the soul. Kevin Bailey, 64, Bath, retired plumber

Megan Newhart
Megan Newhart

My soothing song is Duran Duran’s Ordinary World. In addition to the ethereal music, the words of the piece remind me that despite how overwhelming things sometimes feel, it is not a unique experience and that what I feel is temporary. It also reminds me that I have agency and that I can work to get to a place where I feel more comfortable. Meagan Newhart, 50, New York, interior decorator

Abusey Junction by Kokoroko. I am a psychology student and I volunteered for the Body & Soul charity, which helps people who have experienced childhood trauma. When I facilitated group sessions, I always started them with this number. It’s such a warm, soothing piece of music. Siobhan, 39, Camberley, Surrey

Julien Beghain
Julien Beghain

The one that always has a calming 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, as it’s a one of my parents’ favorite songs. It reminds me of quiet and warm evenings in my parental home. Julien Beghain, 37, Norwich, software engineer

A song that makes me stop in my tracks every time I hear the opening notes. It makes me close my eyes and take a deep breath. I often turn to Radiohead when I can’t think of what else to listen to, but this particular song makes me rule out everything else and just let it wash over me. Jerry Ahern, 40, Dublin, IT Officer

Lisa Heledd Jones
Lisa Heledd Jones

It’s so soothing. That text alone reminds me over and over that this bad feeling – whatever it is – will pass. On the road I listen to events that scare me, such as parties and work events, and when 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

When I press to pick just one song that can pour water into the meltdown mood in the first few seconds, I can always rely on Aphex Twin’s Avril 14th. For all the countless songs whose lyrics move and soothe me, Avril 14th says just as much in an instrumental, through its soft plink-plonking piano that leaves the listener filling in the gaps. I’ve heard it spanned hundreds of times in different styles and on different instruments, but that deceptively simple yet genius little shifting riff and loop never loses its power. A special piece by an artist whose specialty is surprising his listeners. Sean Willcox, 28, Bath, Commercial Property

This is so distinctly different from his other body of work – the opening bars of a lo-fi beat are followed by a simple piano riff and relaxed, calming vocals, evoking for me feelings of warm evenings spent on a balcony as the sky slowly darkens. It reminds me of the time we came out of lockdown in June 2020 – it was warm and we spent a lot of time on the balcony. The vocals later become almost nauseatingly cheerful and a bit nonsensical, supported by horns. Unbeatable for vibes. Joe Coyle, 27, Isle of Man, Chartered Accountant

Richard Storey and his wife Sue
Richard Storey and his wife Sue

Peace piece by Bill Evans. A supreme pianist who played Miles Davis’ groundbreaking Kind of Blue. His introspection is almost palpable in his chord arrangement. Calm, thoughtful. Lowers blood pressure in seconds. Richard Storey, 82, Bristol, retired, with ambitions to become a DJ for care homes

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