Songs that save lives

Music has been clinically proven to have a positive impact on mental health. The right song can affect our psychobiological stress system and create feelings of motivation, happiness and relaxation.

We think the world should know that music can fight mental illness.

Here are a few of the songs that have helped us and our friends through hard times.

Watch

We invite some of our favorite musicians to share the songs that have helped them through difficult times.

Good Day Bad

Meshell Ndegeocello
September 10, 2019

Meshell Ndegeocello talks about her mental health and plays a song in which her partner wrote lyrics that helped fight back.

Sasami Short

Sasami
September 9, 2019

Sasami talks about how music has helped her through the ups and downs.

Jolie Holland's "Mexico City"

Kyp Malone (TV on the Radio)
September 6, 2019

Sounds of Saving, a 501c3 nonprofit fueling hope through music asks artists to tell the stories of how music and mental health care can save and improve lives.

In this video, Kyp Malone of TV on the Radio talks about the power of music and plays a song that helped him fight back.

Brian Eno's "Golden Hours"

Vorhees
January 24, 2019

Hello and Happy New Year!  Our first video of the 2019 is by the amazing Brooklyn based artist Vorhees.  Her debut album Tracks for Movement will be released tomorrow morning but for now you can take in her cover of Brian Eno’s classic “Golden Hours”.  A song that she loves to hear but that has helped her through many of life’s challenges.  Hear more about her joys and struggles in her own words below.  Please help us raise awareness about suicide, depression and addiction by sharing.

"Heavenly Day"

Denitia
September 13, 2018

Once again, September is Suicide Prevention Awareness Month and in order to help raise awareness we are sharing three new videos.  Today we release our newest by Denitia who we have been fans of since here days in denitia and sene.  Denitia chose to cover an amazing Patty Griffin song that reached her at a critical time.  Please help us raise awareness about suicide, depression and addiction by sharing.

Velvet Underground's "New Age"

Shilpa Ray
September 27, 2018

As you know, September is Suicide Prevention Awareness Month and in order to help raise awareness we are sharing the last of our three videos for the month. Shilpa Ray has been making beautifully melodic punk on the NYC scene for years.  She chose to cover a Velvet Underground tune.  Please help us raise awareness about suicide, depression and addiction by sharing.

Sounds of Saving

L'rain
September 4, 2018

September is Suicide Prevention Awareness Month and you can expect three new videos from the SoS crew.  The first one features L'rain who released one of our favorite albums from 2017.  L'rain is a Brooklyn based experimental band, who merges soulful vocals with odd musical loops that works perfectly.  The bands most recent LP was an ode to singer Taja Cheek's late mother, Lorraine.  She chose to cover an amazing Dirty Projectors song that reached her at a critical time.  Please help us raise awareness about suicide, depression and addiction by sharing.

Episode 1

Brittain Ashford
March 19, 2018

Today is the official soft launch of Sounds of Saving!  Our first episode features the leader of the Brooklyn based band Prairie Empire, solo artist, and the star of Broadway's Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812, Brittain Ashford.   Check it out below and please help us fight suicide and depression by sharing the video and donating if you can.

Listen

Explore curated playlists of life-saving songs curated by select humans that work in and/or love music.

#PlaylistsThatHeal 011 X Robert Lundberg

MARCH 13, 2019

As I'm attempting to write a piece on music and depression, my eyes tear up reminiscing on two big influences of my musical ear Steven Khabbaz and Mark Leonard (my best friends whom both passed: Steven in 2013 and Mark this past summer). Although this year has been one of the hardest I've experienced during my brief time; rhythm, melodies and beats have taken me to places I would never have imagined.

In my journey documenting musical artists I’ve had the privilege to experience the spectrum of the creation process from the studio to the stage, and I’ve observed the power of music to transcend negativity. It’s amazing this transference of energy, the power that one song can do for a soul; a song can breathe hope, inspire, light the fire within when the light is seemingly dwindling, give courage, and connect.

Beats, rhythm, lyrics, storytelling, and expression. The foundations of the glue that holds communities together, a web of human understanding, a common language no matter the peoples, music has bound cultures throughout time. It’s intrinsic, a language intertwined with our souls. A language that has bound my soul, in which, being no stranger to depression, has allowed me to be okay with myself.

When I’ve been lost, hurt, or overwhelmed by life the universe has always lent a tune or performance that has re-energized my spirit. Music is like that, it’s your best friend reminding you are not alone in this mess we call life. With this in mind, I put together playlist of songs that have helped me find faith within my journey, within myself, and spirit.

-Robert Lundberg

Robert Lundberg is a music, street, and fine art photographer.

Originally hailing from Boston, Massachusetts, and currently residing in Brooklyn, New York, he takes his unique and candid style from the street into the world of music. He has been featured in publications such as The Huffington Post, Paste Magazine, Vents Magazine, Do NYC, No Depression, The Patch and countless others including podcasts. In October 2017 his work was featured in Chelsea, New York at the Clio Art Fair, and this year he debuted his solo show Uncontaminated Sound at the Bowery Electric.

Lundberg differs from a lot of current day music photographers as he likes to capture the artists in their truest form. His ongoing series Uncontaminated Sound goes behind the scenes to catch the performer before they take the stage.

The series has featured the likes of Macklemore’s Gemini tour featuring Eric Nally (formerly of Foxy Shazam) and Xperience, Louie Anderson, Sinbad, The Felice Brothers, The National, We Are Scientists, Jukebox the Ghost, Ben Lanz (The National/ Beirut), Robert Schwartzman of Rooney and more.

His style is best described as 'raw, organic and gonzo,' as he brings out the spirit of his subjects in the photos.

#PlaylistsThatHeal 010 X Sara Laufer

January 31, 2019

Music has always been central in my life and provided escape, fostered bonds with friends and family, and has been the closest thing to me in periods of isolation. Making this playlist was therapeutic in and of itself: remembering love and loss and the songs that accompanied these experiences throughout my life. The moments leading up to the death of my grandmother was Death Cab for Cutie's "What Sarah Said". Driving my car in my hometown (my car the only place I've ever been able to sing out loud) I would listen to Local Natives and belt my heart out, waiting to pick up my little sister from her karate classes. My brothers would pick me up from elementary school and I would ask them, my first musical influences, what songs they were playing in the car. I took notes and embarked on my first cd-purchasing hunt to collect the Killers discography. I grew into my own taste and made some of the songs included in this playlist my best friends.

My adolescence was built upon an extreme dedication to my favorite bands, extensive consumption of every video, interview, lyric analysis available. My closest friends and relationships have been built upon mutual enjoyment, musing, and making memories with the music we love. It makes a lot of sense to me that now, age 23, my career in photography and film has centered itself largely around musicians. I love the process of visualization that comes with listening to and feeling songs. Meeting the musicians who have shaped so many important developments within myself continues to be one of my greatest pleasures.

This playlist serves as a tribute to growing up and growing through significant parts of my life. Many of the songs I've included I have discovered in the past few years, through college and through my current relationship (shoutout to Jake). I hope the songs resonate with others too, whether to help induce a much-needed cry or getting you to dance and focus on the beauty comes from listening and feeling.

-Sara Laufer

Sara Laufer is a photographer and cinematographer based in New York. She is fascinated with ideas of memory, expression, and visual culture.

She recently graduated from NYU's Tisch School of the Arts with a BFA in Film and minor in Art History. She has worked at Milk Studios' LEGS Media and Panavision New York, and is Co-Founder of visual arts magazine VISCERAL8.

#PlaylistsThatHeal 09 X Angela Betancourt

DECEMBER 19, 2018

You've reached a numb acceptance of your own depression and now you can cover with it a smile. Have you seen "The Mask" video by David Bowie? There's a moment when the show ends and you can't remove the mask anymore, but you know what's underneath.

Finding new music instead of being clustered in the same old songs that I already know the mood of, is part of a habit I'm trying to develop even more. It keeps life interesting and stimulates my creative thought process and I come up with new ideas that hopefully will develop if I keep myself motivated.

Being able to document live music surrounded by the landscape of different scenes, cities and crowds gives me the opportunity to put my focus on an intensity that is not my own.

This isn't the most cohesive playlist,  but it's an honest mix of some things I frequently listen to (sometimes on repeat).

-Angela Betancourt

Music photographer/graphic artist, currently based in Austin, TX. Self- represented. Available for national and international assignments.

The best live performances are a cathartic experience, the sort we interpret though our own realities. The sounds, the lyrics, the lighting, the audience interaction all combine for an irreplaceable art form, one i’m privileged to witness.

Documenting different music scenes and telling a story as intimately as possible doesn’t compare to anything else i’ve experienced.

#PlaylistsThatHeal 08 X Mionyl

NOVEMBER 14, 2018

Making this playlist has proven harder than I initially thought. I found myself putting it off for a long time, not because of lack of inspiration or motivation but simply because it's been quite painful.

So why was this so hard? Shouldn't it be a fun experience, thinking back, making a playlist of songs that essentially saved you from slipping into complete darkness?

Well. When I started looking back I realized that music has not only been a kind of "guiding light" throughout my life, something I've built both my career & my relationships around, it has also saved it. I am convinced that if I didn't discover a passion for music at a very early age I would not have been here.

That may sound dramatic but growing up in an environment where nothing was predictable it was extremely important to find something that wasn't as fickle as the immediate reality. Some stability. I found that in music. From being completely mesmerized by the wonder that is Prince when I barely could walk, to the first time hearing Elliott Smith as a tween, singing words to me I never had the courage to say out loud myself. Music followed me around, making sure I could escape when I needed to or kept me company when I needed it.

But the importance of music is just as big now as it was when I was young. From my childhood I was left with C-PTSD & bouts of crippling anxiety. That darkness, continuously calling you, urging you to lay down flat on your back and just give up, wanting to consume all that you are, keeping you from sleep, love, food & all other pleasures in life; somehow it's incredibly hard to resist when the hurt washes over you. But I've been able to keep my head above the surface. I've been able to always keep my eye on the light, the place where all the "normal" people live, even when that light has been really faint, & I think music is one of, if not THE main reason for that, both creating it & experiencing others work.

So what I'm saying is that music can save a life & for me at least, one of the main reasons is this:

Music can end that harrowing feeling that you are completely alone in an experience. Hearing someone else express similar bone-crushing feelings, sometimes in actual words but just as much in instrumental music, is invaluable. Someone who confirms that what you're feeling isn't unique. Someone else has been there before. Someone else has thought the same thoughts. We all strive to be unique but in this case it's an incredibly harrowing thought. That you're alone. But you're never alone.

So, with that said, here's a couple of songs in no particular order from musicians that has given me some kind of comfort at some point in my life. I'm sure that they are all classified as "sad songs" but not to me. To me they have all been able to draw out some beauty from the above mentioned darkness & given me peace at the absolute lowest points of my life & now that I'm out of the woods, it gives me perspective & helps me appreciate the things I've learned from it all.

Hopefully you'll find something there that you enjoy too.

-Mio  

Mio is a photographer, body painter, musician & record store worker from southern Sweden who combines all her passions together with her biggest hobby, vinyl collecting, on Instagram under the alias @mionyl (Mio + vinyl = Mionyl). There she tries to engage & start personal conversations about music in a positive & inspirational way, across all genres.

#PlaylistsThatHeal 07 x Ian Bremner from Old Rookie

OCTOBER 23, 2018

The right song at the right time can do more for the soul than any of the 5 senses. Well, if you count hearing, then the other 4 senses. Certain emotions can wash over and totally overcome you when that right song hits. Maybe you played it on purpose. Maybe it came on randomly at a bar. Maybe you had to whip out your phone and quickly find the Shazam app when you’re strolling through the record shop. Maybe you are watching a sad movie by yourself and as some crushing scene hits the crescendo, a song you’ve never heard comes on and puts it all over the top. Some folks may have a go-to song in a time of need, but often times that special feeling happens unexpectedly and out of the blue.

Whenever it happens, a wave of affirmation hits and as cliche as it sounds, you feel alive. Music has that unique power to change your mood on a dime. Sad music can make you happy and happy music can make you sad. The same song can sound different depending on your current setting and mindset.

Hearing anything off Neil Young’s “Harvest Moon” record will immediately transcend me back to my childhood, eating corn on the Cobb in the backyard. The smell of the summer air and the smoke from the barbecue comes flooding back. Having such a strong nostalgic connection to a specific album, sets the tone for music in the future too. It all becomes more important. You don’t realize it at the time, but the right song at the right time can have that effect on someone else. Of course, there’s no telling until years into the future, but the wait is worth it.

Below is a playlist of favorite songs at one point or another. What makes these songs special is that indescribable feeling I tried to explain above. Immediately upon hearing them for the very first time, I knew they would be in my life for long time. Some have specific memories attached to them. Some I just knew I liked from the first note.  -Ian Bremner

Ian Bremner is a lifelong Pacific Northwesterner and founder of Seattle-based music blog, Old Rookie. The idea for Old Rookie is simply to prop up good music and avoid the rat race for content, which leads to some TMZ-shit real quick. Ian writes about music, presents shows around town, DJs and talks about music a lot. Genre knows no bounds. All good music is soul music.

SoSLists #6 x Sydney Campos

September 18, 2018

Music is soul healing and for me that has always been the case, even when I wasn't consciously aware of the fact. I've spent my entire life seeking god even though I couldn't have told you that up until just a few years ago. I sought god through attention, through success, achievement, drugs, alcohol, sex and a series of other adrenaline-boosting activities only to find that the whole time I was looking outside for the thing that resided inside all along. Music however has always been the constant source of remembrance and healing - whether it was dancing at the club after 1am in New York City, at the school dances in middle school wondering if my crush would notice me or turning to my favorite childhood song in a moment of turbulent emotional distress to recall the safety and love I felt at once upon being home. I’ve always loved to dance and yet only in the last few years - two to be exact - have I tuned into what that medicine truly offers when I dive in all the way. Pushing past boundaries and barriers of what I think other people think of me, how this move looks, what this person things of this positioning, or anything else that someone else projects onto me about my own experience - is none of my business. How I choose to move my body and how I move through life is FOR ME, and to be completely expressed and enjoyed precisely as I desire. Dance is therefore a revolutionary - liberating even - practice in self-love. Music is the fuel to the fire. These songs are remembrances of what it means to be a beautiful infinite multi-dimensional soul housed only for a few moments in time in this beautiful human vessel. How are you choosing to celebrate this now moment you are so gifted with receiving? Did you know that there's a story that says - spirit created music here on earth so that souls would finally choose to incarnate in physical form since it was only through the physical body that music could be fully felt, heard and experienced? How are you choosing to dance through this one wonderful life you have? How can your dance be more designed solely for you to open to more love - and more grace - more of ALL that you are? I love you, keep going.

Sydney Campos is a Visionary Mentor, Intuitive Advisor and Author of The Empath Experience: What To Do When You Feel Everything. Sydney guides visionary leaders to live in alignment with their soul purpose while embodying next-level power, pleasure and prosperity.

In addition to being a seasoned Business Strategy Advisor and Certified Holistic Health Coach, Sydney is also a 200-Hour Registered Yoga Teacher, Reiki Energy Healer, and Certified Akashic Records Practitioner. Sydney shares her multifaceted inspiration through
1:1 visionary mentoring, courses, transformational retreats, intuitive readings and her Visionary Souls Podcast.

An avid adventurer, Sydney is likely to be found in Bali, Venice Beach, San Francisco or anywhere in Mediterranean Europe. Sydney has been featured in Forbes, MindBodyGreen, Refinery29, Bustle, PureWow and New York Magazine.

SoSLists #5 Dewey Saunders x Ashley Boone Pierce

AUGUST 27, 2018

Super Crucial is a collaboration between me and my cousin Ashley Boone Pierce.We believe that music is a transformative force, a universal language that dissolves boundaries and has the power to lift our spirits. Ash and I have both experienced childhood traumas and painful experiences which have always been alleviated by the healing power of music. We stitched together a playlist with the intention to uplift and soothe anybody going through a rough patch. The main message we tried to get across is that nothing is permanent and "this too shall pass." We hope these songs can be of service to anyone that needs a little light and act as a reminder that life is a beautiful journey with the ups and downs to be celebrated and embraced. We are thankful to all the musicians that have lightened our spirits and given us a renewed joy of life.

-Dewey Saunders

Dewey Bryan Saunders one of today’s most innovative and established graphic designers who often operates within the niche world of cover art. He has worked alongside figures such as Anderson .Paak, Lil Uzi Vert and Chronixx. As a rapper himself, he is also known by his stage name Dewey Decibel.  He is based in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Ashley Boone Pierce is an illustrator and graphic designer based in Highland Park, Los Angeles. Born in Boynton Beach, Florida and raised in bucolic Bucks County, Pennsylvania,Ash has created a world of his own by developing his draftsmanship and imaginative narratives and story lines for his illustrative renderings.His work ranges from graphic novel to editorial and portraiture and his signature style combines with an effortless creativity to create a truly unique way of looking at our world and our future worlds.

SoSlist #4 by Matt Gross

JULY 23, 2018

Probably the most difficult moment of my adult life took place a little over three years ago when my dog Cooper passed on a frigid, snowy January evening. I didn't really grow up with dogs. My family always had pets but mostly the non-furry kind, i.e. fish, iguanas, birds, oh and hermit crabs (!). I adopted Cooper in my mid-20s and he totally changed my world. A brown-and-white, happy-go-lucky pit bull who spent the first few years of his life in an assortment of undesirable situations, he was nearly 80 pounds and had the warmest, most loving personality. He changed my perception of pretty much everything, all the while grounding and teaching me every single day. I miss him waking me up at 4am for the early bird special by jumping up and down repeatedly until he was fed. I miss his body sprawled out on top of mine while we slept and he snored - loudly, so incredibly loudly. I miss his incessant, wet, sloppy kisses. I miss walking around the park with him. I miss it all. Some days I try to brush away the sadness, some days I have no choice but to cave. Here are some songs that have helped me along the journey.

-Matt Gross

Matt Gross is a music publicist, former blogger, current DJ and influencer living in NYC.

SoSlist #3 by Alec Bemis (of Brassland Label)

May 16, 2018

Last week a friend of my friends, Scott Hutchinson, took his own life. He was found by the waterfront, in a town just outside of Edinburgh, Scotland. Scott was part of my music community. One friend produced the last record by his band, Frightened Rabbit, released in 2016. Scott was also a tourmate to more allies & colleagues than I can count —- and by all accounts, he was a warm & generous one. After he died, someone posted a backstage picture of him spelling out the name of a fan in Cheetos, a virtual gift to be passed along by cell phone pic.

I've been close to more than one of these kinds of pointless deaths this year — and more still in the timeline that is a life. My own father, maybe. (No one is certain.) When I was a journalist a lifetime ago, the subject of my first cover story — my 'big break' — was Elliott Smith.

"I never think of [my songs] as being particularly dark," Elliott told me, unpacking people's impressions of his music. "I just think of them as being real. I look for songs that are sort of happy and sad at the same time, that have conflicting feelings coexisting." He went on to explain his understanding of the term 'melancholy' — a hint of happiness mixed into a field of sad. "What's the point in a one-dimensional song? There's gotta be a certain amount of darkness so the happy parts pop out. It's like a bright color. It won't look so bright surrounded only by other bright colors. It would just sort of be hard on the eye."

I've been told I like sad songs. But it's that mix of colors that I hope you take from the ones I've collected here. Because I believe music itself is a color. And I think of sad songs as a way to illuminate one's darkest feelings with a brighter shade of expression.

-Alec Hanley Bemis

Alec Hanley Bemis is a manager and creative producer who lives in Brooklyn, New York — and, in 2001, co-founded the Brassland label with Aaron and Bryce Dessner of The National. For these projects he has been covered by The Irish Times, The Guardian, Print Magazine, and The Wall Street Journal. In his first career as a writer & journalist, he was published in The New Yorker, The New York Times, Bookforum and LA Weekly on topics ranging from Beck to backyard wrestling.

SoSlist #2 by T. Cole Rachel

April 16, 2018

"As a queer teenager growing up on a farm in Oklahoma during the ‘80s, I lived in a perpetual state of panic and fear. Terrified by my own sexuality and always anxious that I would somehow be outed, music and books became my primary source of solace and escape. Driving a tractor in lazy circles across the sprawling wheat fields behind our house, I’d spend hours listening to a dubbed cassette copy of The Cure’s Head on the Door and daydreaming about a time in my life when I could freely be myself, preferably many many miles away from the dust and dirt of my childhood home. Even after coming out in college, my early twenties were a constant state of emotional upheaval and I struggled with self-loathing and intense suicidal ideation. Now, many years later (and after lots of therapy), it makes sense that I’d eventually become a music journalist for a living. Music has always provided (and still provides) a lifeline that has kept me tethered to this world during moments when nothing else could. I am so grateful for it."-T. Cole Rachel

T. COLE RACHEL is a writer, teacher and ceramic cat collector who lives in Brooklyn. He creates poems, essays, and all manner of culture-related journalism. His work has appeared in Interview, The FADER, Pitchfork, The New York Times Magazine, Bon, Man Of The World, OUT, Dossier, Maxim and Stereogum. He is a regular contributor to Pitchfork and has served as a Contributing Editor at both V Magazine and Interview. He teaches a recurring poetry workshop, Poetry & Photography, via the Camera Club of NYC. His books include Surviving the Moment of Impact and Bend Don't Shatter. He is currently Senior Editor at The Creative Independent.

SOSlist #1 - by the Mike Raimo Family

March 5, 2018

Leading up to the launch of our very first episode on March 19th, we would like to present to you: SOSlists, a monthly playlist curated by select non-musicians.  After all, music can heal, even if you don't play an instrument.  I am honored that our first list was created by Mike Raimo’s widowed wife, Michele, and their four children. To me the project had to start with a contribution by my uncle Mike's family, since they were the inspiration for the whole thing. Please read and listen to their message below.

"Stevie Nicks opens a live version of "Landslide" with, “This is for you, Daddy…”

This playlist is for our dad—featuring songs from the track lists of the hundreds of CDs that filled a tall wooden bookcase in our back room. Some of these songs remind our mother of her true love and best friend.  A handful of these songs are printed on Dad's records from when he was teenager—records that he later thought were water-damaged from a basement flood, but that miraculously still work today. The sleeves are wrinkled and stained, but the records still play. We know he's somewhere listening in, happy that they do.

Dad loved these songs—he played them often…and loudly. This playlist is mostly a soundtrack of our family parties and get-togethers—songs that dad would blast through the speakers, and songs that he would force a niece or a nephew to sing with him during karaoke.

Then, there are songs that he may not have heard during his 50 years physically in this realm, but that help us cope with losing him. We feel his presence through these songs.

This is for you, Daddy."

-Kerri Ann Raimo

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SHARED BY:
Song Title:
Artist Name:
Jim Ward
Want
Jawbreaker
David Ricart
Omega
Gyöngyhajú lány
Lacey Baker
First Day Of My Live
Bright Eyes
Joan As Policewoman
Song For You
Donny Hathaway
Boy Harsher
No Sense
Cat Power
Meshell
Out on the weekend
Neil Young
Jeffrey Santana
I’d rather go blind
Etta James

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