Songs to Make You Laugh, Cry and Press Repeat

Music is an inherently emotional media. It reaches people through an emotional connection, and at times it seems to take on an unexplainable yet palpable form. A band conveys emotions, ideas and shared experiences through their chosen style of music. These connections and shared ideas are what influence our reactions to the music we hear and influence our tastes. Below are a few tracks I believe will have you hovering over the repeat button long before the song ends. For more, look up my “NDSU Laugh Cry Repeat” playlist in Spotify.

‘My S***’s F***ed Up’ — Warren Zevon

Most people’s knowledge of Warren Zevon’s music is limited to his hit “Werewolves of London.” Until recently, I was among them. Enter the blessing of Spotify’s personalized “Discovery” playlist, where I was first introduced to my new anthem.

What appears to be the decidedly humorous plight of a man going through a rough time at surface level soon reveals a deceptively deep message below.

The overall message of this gruff, matter-of-fact tune is surprisingly comforting. With this stripped back song Zevon soothes, “Yeah, yeah, my s***’s f***ed up. It has to happen to the best of us; rich folks suffer like the rest of us. It’ll happen to you.” Somehow, the fact that sooner or later everyone experiences a bump in the road is reassuring. Zevon’s stripped back song encourages you to accept this hard reality of life. The sooner you make peace with your struggles, the better off you’ll be.  

‘Alice’s Restaurant Massacree’ — Arlo Guthrie

The son of country singer Woody Guthrie, Arlo shared more with his father than musical aptitudes. Both Guthrie men possessed an unparalleled ability for musical persuasion. Hiding behind the humorous, “big-fish” tales lurks important dialogues about the countries conflicts and injustices at the time. “Alice’s Restaurant Massacree” is the winding tale of Guthrie’s infraction for illegal garbage dumping. Guthrie doesn’t reveal the true meaning of the story until over halfway through the 18-minute song. What could a song about Thanksgiving meals “that can’t be beat” and dumping garbage have to say about anything remotely serious? That is the beauty of Guthrie’s work because he proves it can say an awful lot. In this case, it is about the flawed draft system during the Vietnam War. Don’t let the length deter you. By the time the song is over, you’ll only stop rolling on the floor laughing long enough to press repeat.  

‘Muthaf***a’ — Beware the Darkness

I promise profane language is not on the top of my checklist for what makes a great song. However, this is an upbeat song sure to give you the confidence boost you need, right when you need it. Just like an updated “Back in Black” (AC/DC), “Muthaf***a” is an anthem for the downtrodden. The lyrics inspire the listener: “It’s time for this world to know the gifts you’ve had since you were born. Let them feel everything, don’t stop at anything ‘til everyone on this planet knows your name.” It makes you feel powerful.

‘Watcha Gonna Do With Yr Life’ — Crash Nomada

In an earlier article I wrote briefly about offbeat genres, Gypsy Punk among them. From this genre comes Crash Nomada and their song “Watcha Gonna Do With Yr Life.” A song especially relatable to those with overbearing relatives and familial career pressures. I’ve found there is something almost therapeutic about singing along to the chorus of this song. If you are feeling overwhelmed or lost in your college career, just try singing, “ Watcha gonna do with yr life? Sit back and watch it go by? Watcha gonna do with yr life? Sit back and watch it fade away everyday?” It will either give you motivation or, at the very least, feel good to scream along to.

‘Can I Borrow Some Ambition’ — Guttermouth

If I am honest, if it weren’t for knowing the title of the song, I wouldn’t have caught it while listening. For those who are unfamiliar with this track, Guttermouth’s lead singer Mark “Mercury” Adkins almost breaks the sound barrier with the speed in which he delivers the lyrics. If a song you can jam to without necessarily understanding any of it is what you are searching for, “Can I Borrow Some Ambition” is the right song for you. Clocking in at a mere 2 minutes and 20 seconds, Guttermouth managed to create a song perfect to shake out all the angst and doubts accompanying the stressful life of a college student.

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