So, the Trump years begin. Whatever I think of it, one of the most vile human beings ever to come out of the United States is now president.
The first few hours brought us instant elimination of the LGBT page and other issues from the White House website. It’s tempting to chalk it up to the sheer incompetence of Trump and his staff; after all, putting up a new website takes a lot of coordination and effort. However, the Trump team apparently had their shit together enough to make sure that Melania’s jewelry line got promoted on the site — at least, until the media started to call them on it.
I have a lot to say, and I’m focusing on getting as much of it out as possible. I will, with time. but for today, all I can say is: I’m scared. I’m scared and angry at how deeply we’ve been betrayed. At how deeply we’ve betrayed ourselves, because let’s face it, the blame for this falls squarely on the shoulders of white people like myself, even those of us who didn’t actually vote for the fucker.
But I don’t have it together enough to write clearly. When word fail me, there’s music.
As I’ve said before, I use music to survive. It’s one of the ways that I’ve made it through my depression with a few shreds of sanity and without literally self-destructing. So today, I give you a playlist of music to help us all survive and resist.
This particular playlist is long, because it’s the one that Greta Christina and I put together for this year’s Godless Perverts Holiday Fun Time Party.For the last two years, the Holiday Fun Time Party has not only been a social event for San Francisco atheists, but also a fundraiser for St. James Infirmary, a local health clinic that’s run by and for sex workers. Usually our playlist would incorporate songs about secularism, positive songs about sexuality or queerness, and a handful of versions of the classic blues song “St. James Infirmary.
But this year, we had to face the specter of Donald Trump’s presidency, and what that means for our future. So we slanted the playlist heavily towards a theme of resistance. I strongly recommend that you look through it. Some of it is political, some of it is sexy, and some of it is just joyful and fun, to keep the darkness and dread from overwhelming us.
Thoughts on Some of the High Points
There are a few that I recommend in particular: Talking Heads’ “Life During Wartime” has been a presence in my life for decades. It’s a staple of my “depression playlist,” because of its depiction of paranoia and alienation. It’s an excellent depiction of what happens when you allow the horrible to become normal. (“The sound of gunfire, off in the distance; I’m getting used to it now.”) It’s also a great portrayal of how destructive it is to become so immersed in the struggle that you abandon human connections.
I also strongly recommend that you not only listen to Saul Williams’s cover of U2’s “Sunday Bloody Sunday,” but watch the video, too. It’s more like a work that stands on its own than a video to promote the song, a small film depicting police violence and racism against the poor.
And if you haven’t heard “Hell You Talmbout” by Janelle Monáe and the Wondaland Collective, do so now. It was devastating when it first came out over a year ago, but against the surge of violence and hate crimes that followed Trump’s election, it’s even more essential. Lyrically, it’s simple: the vocalists take turns listing the names of black people who have been killed by racist cops, from Emmett Till to Sandra Bland, followed by chants of “Say his name/say her name.”
I was really surprised to find myself liking Lily Allen’s “Fuck You,” so much, but it really fit in with my plain, blunt anger at Trump’s election and all that it implied. The light, bouncy pop melody makes the anger in the song even sharper. We don’t have to be nice to these fuckers.
But honestly, although the Mountain Goats’s most popular tune, “This Year,” was already on heavy rotation in my library, I think it’s going to get a lot more in the years ahead. “This Year” isn’t literally about the kind of political resistance that some of these other songs advocate; it’s about John Darnielle looking forward to escaping his abusive stepfather when he was a teenager. But it is about surviving things that seem unsurvivable. It’s Darnielle’s most well-known song precisely because the chorus, “I am going to make it through this year if it kills me,” is heavy with a mix of grief, desperation, and hope that so many of us are so familiar with, whatever the circumstances. The first order of business for any of us is that we need to survive Trump.
The Full Playlist
There’s two versions of the playlist: One from YouTube and one from Spotify. They’re each slightly different, and the Spotify one is missing “Hell You Talmbout” and “Formation” by Beyonce because of the limits of their library.
Enjoy, and I’d love to hear what music you’d add to a list like this.