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  • Nathan Weakley

Some Songs to (Hopefully) Make You Feel Something

Hey, everybody. It’s the time of year when winter is overstaying its welcome and things are getting a little dreary. Days start to feel monotonous, and I know that a lot of people find themselves stuck in a mental fog right about now. But I feel like sometimes the right music can take whatever vague hint of emotion is trailing you at a distance and turn it into something strong and palpable. Here are a few songs that might help you wake up, in case you need it.

The Strokes - New York City Cops

The Strokes’ debut album, with its searing guitars and Julian Casablancas’s beautiful, scratchy voice, always feels so distinctly alive, and I think that feeling rubs off if you listen to it enough. This track is a favorite of mine– there’s so much raw energy and irreverence, but nothing serious at all. Also, you can catch The Strokes live at the Credit Union 1 Arena this Friday!

The Walkmen - Angela Surf City

I’m afraid I may never get one hundred words into a blog without bringing up The Walkmen. But this song makes me feel like I could run a million miles around the Earth or maybe jump off a cliff and hang suspended in the air like an old-timey cartoon. It rips. After a tense, short opening verse it explodes into a storm of guitar and crashing, unrelenting drums while Hamilton Leithauser screams red-faced into a microphone directly in the center of your brain. It’s perfect, and you should go listen to it right now.

Big Thief - Capacity

Okay, if the sheer adrenaline of the first two songs didn’t work, maybe this will be better. Big Thief is the best band in the world, and this song is the reason why. It’s a little grungier than some of their other stuff, but Adrianne Lenker’s voice is so light and beautiful over the scratchy instrumental. I’m not sure what the lyrics mean but judging by the way they make me feel they must be telling some kind of truth.

Sam Cooke - Bring it on Home to Me (Live at the Harlem Square Club)

The original is great, but to be clear, I’m talking specifically about this live recording at the Harlem Square Club from 1963. Sam Cooke’s voice was such a blessing. This whole album is an honest-to-God spiritual journey. You can hear the crowd screaming and shouting, the band is perfect, and the songs are all performed with a life and energy that could never be captured in the studio. At about a minute and a half in, this track goes somewhere that’s so incredible, and that speaks so well for itself that I really don’t care to describe it. Sam Cooke pours his heart out and laughs while he does it. I just love it so much.

Elliott Smith - Rose Parade

Sometimes, when you’re in a funk, you just need to hear the voice of somebody who understands. Elliott Smith is that guy. There’s really nothing more to say, but I’m always glad and thankful that his albums are there when we need them.


For anyone who's feeling depressed or fogged up right now, I feel you. But the best advice I can give you is to engage with art. It's good for the soul, and it might help you get in touch with your feelings if they start to seem distant. Music is always great. And don't forget that the Art Institute of Chicago is free for students. Don't hole up inside- go out, take the train, go downtown, and bring some headphones. Good luck.


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