Pandaemonium

SONGS OF DESPAIR AND HOPE

Gustav Klimt, “Hope II”
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It seems appropriate to see off 2020, and welcome in 2021, with songs of despair and hope. There are, of course, a hundred songs I could have included in either list. To choose just five in each category was an almost impossible task, and the selections are rather arbitrary. To pare it down a bit, I excluded songs primarily of heartbreak and love ache and straightforward protest songs too, though some here (Lauryn Hill’s “Black Rage”, for instance) may straddle the line. Still, there are a hundred more I could have included, and a hundred more still that I’ve forgotten about. There are also songs here that could have gone in either list – most notably Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” (Jeff Buckley’s version of which I have included here), whose meaning depends on how you read it (Cohen himself, I think, saw it as a song of hope more than of despair). Its very ambiguity makes it perhaps the ideal song to transition to a new year.

Happy New Year, all. Thanks for your support through a very trying year and look forward to a more hopeful one. 

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Despair

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Bob Dylan, “Ballad of Hollis Brown”

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Bruce Springsteen, “The River”

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Gill Scott-Heron, “Pieces of a Man”

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Lauryn Hill, “Black Rage”

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RL Burnside, “Everything is Broken”

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Hope

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Nina Simone, “Feeling Good”

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Tracy Chapman, “Talkin’ About a Revolution”

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Bob Marley, “Redemption Song”

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Sam Cooke, “A Change is Gonna Come

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Jeff Buckley, “Hallelujah