Playlist: When You’re Feeling Helpless

I have a lot of feelings. I know, I always have a lot of feelings, so this is nothing new. Lately, those feelings have been a lot more melancholy and panicky than usual. Sometimes there’s nothing more you can do than curl up in the fetal position under the covers. Sometimes you feel like your life is out of your control and all you want is quiet. Right now, what I want is to be in a dark room with my headphones and closed eyes. This is what I’ll be listening to.

When You’re Feeling Helpless


Let It Be Me – Ray LaMontagne
It’s Okay – Land of Talk
Steadier Footing – Death Cab For Cute
Can’t Go Back Now – The Weepies
Displaced – Azure Ray
These Days – Nico
Woke Up New – The Mountain Goats
Grace Cathedral Hill – The Decemberists
Red – Okkervil River
Blonde on Blonde – Nada Surf
I Hurt Too – Katie Herzig
Hail To Whatever You Found in the Sunlight That Surrounds You – Rilo Kiley
One of These Days – Owen
Razzle Dazzle Rose – Camera Obscura
Swimming Pool – Freezepop
Crosses – José González
Passing Afternoon – Iron and Wine
Lighthouse – Maria Taylor
Seaweed – Fruit Bats
Crystal – Fleetwood Mac
For You – Sharon Van Etten
Here Comes The Sun – The Beatles

When You’re Feeling Helpless from Autostraddle on 8tracks Radio.


What songs would be on your calm-the-fuck-down playlist?

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Hansen is the former DIY & Food Editor of and likes to spend most days making and cooking and writing. She teaches creative writing at Colorado State University and is pursuing a Masters of Fine Arts in her free time.

Hansen has written 189 articles for us.


  1. Everytime I start researching grad schools I end up listening to “Help I’m Alive” by Metric on repeat.

  2. Soko and Poliça are very good for fetal position and curling up imo
    also portisheads ‘roads’.of course.

  3. Grace potter and the nocturnals “apologies” is great for melancholy. And of course was given to me by an ex girlfriend so it makes it all be more fitting.

  4. Maybe I’m just an odd little queer, but I put on dubstep. The louder the bass, the better. That way I can kinda just drown out what’s making me angry.

  5. beautiful playlist! Hope you will have better feelings soon.

    i listen to melancholic music when I feel this way.

    The virgin suicide soundtrack from air
    The Requiem from Mozart
    Oh fortuna – Carl Orf

    But this is way more comforting.

    • Mozart’s Requiem is a goddamn masterpiece. They way he triggers a million different emotions in a single phrase is just mind-blowing.

      Mozart was really good at that. Imagine that.

      • If you want to really lose your shit, listen to Mozart’s requiem, and then Durufle’s. So many feelers. Also, anything by Daughter, especially Medicine, or Youth, which I am listening to right now. I had a long day.

  6. Autostraddle, you are psychic. I’m getting married in 10 days and am kind of freaking out and I definitely need this playlist today so thank you.

  7. If I’m feeling helpless and like a failure (usually because my basket-case ass has fucked something up):
    “Guilt Within Your Head” by the Gits
    “Suburban Relapse” by Siouxsie and the Banshees
    “And I Live in a Town Where the Boys Amputate Their Hearts” by Bratmobile
    “Taste Test” by Sleater-Kinney
    “Dig Me Out” by Sleater-Kinney
    “Damned if She Do” by the Kills
    “No No No” by the Yeah Yeah Yeahs

    If I’m feeling helplessly angry:
    “Number One Enemy” by the Slits
    “Vindictive” by the Slits
    “Bodies” by the Sex Pistols, which is actually not really a pro-forced-birth anthem.
    “Here’s to Your Fuck” by the Gits
    “Shitlist” by L7
    “Suck My Left One” by Bikini Kill
    “White Boy” by Bikini Kill
    “Detroit Valentine” by the Red Aunts
    Probably more information than anybody ever wanted. :P Ah well.

    • Shit, that was supposed to be a tongue-sticking-out, self-deprecating emoticon. Damn internet.

  8. I swear you guys are reading my diary. These playlists are always way too spot on to be coincidental. But seriously, this is another magical playlist I will listen to and cry, probably.

  9. This playlist isn’t half bad. Really love Ray LaMontagne and the Weepies, howeverrrrrr, whenever I’m feeling overwhelmed with life, a playlist like this would just push me over the edge and have me feeling shitty for the rest of the night/day.

    Cheesy pop is my go-to genre for times like these. Carlie Rae’s “Call Me, Maybe” somehow makes me trust the universe. And I really wish I was joking :(.

    • I totally agree; when I’m super stressed about everything in life, I need something upbeat to lift me up…And I’m not ashamed to admit that I’ve used “call me maybe” a time or two. (:

  10. Can we start sharing these on Spotify Playlists? that would be awesome! LOL! Actually, Autostraddle should have a profile there, so we can follow and share music… and these playlist posts. Pretty please? =)
    Anyways, I’m off to searching all these songs on Spotify! ’cause this is exactly how I’m feeling. Thanks!

  11. I love seeing The Weepies on here. Can’t Go Back Now is the best ‘the-future-is-scary-and-I’m-feeling-hopeless-and-directionless’ song.

  12. I think “A Better Son/Daughter” by Rilo Kiley would be perfect for this, too. Such a powerful song.

  13. Tomorrow I have a job interview, less than a week after hearing disappointing news from another place I applied to, so this playlist is exactly where I am right now. Or maybe all the time. I don’t know.

  14. Maybe I’m being a tad overdramatic, but this is pretty much saving my life right now. This playlist should be the soundtrack to my entire high school experience. In the midst of homework, studying, applying to colleges, and trying to maintain somewhat of a social life, alone-time is SO necessary. This makes me alone-time not so lonely. Thank you thank you thank you!

  15. This is exactly what I need right now. I’m helpless in the face of being sick and grumpy and wanting my mom and feeling like I’m four years old again. Hopefully this will help me calm down and get to sleep in the absence of prescription cough medicine.

  16. Ugh! Sorry, again, for the long post… I have too much time in my hands. It’s like I’m taking these posts as assignments, lol!
    Anyways, I went through my whole Spotify starred collection, which basically tells the story of my life somehow (or at least my mood swings) and I picked the songs I always listen to when feeling “down”.

    I’m in Here- Sia … “I’m in here, Can anybody see me?”

    Breathe Me- Sia … “I have lost myself again”

    Who You Are- Jessie J … “It’s okay not be okay”

    Before it Breaks- Brandi Carlile … “Let it bend before it breaks”

    I Drive Alone- Esthero … “I’m not so strong, but I’ll make my way”

    Hard Way Home- Brandi Carlile … “I want to leave this town, Fake my death and never be found”

    Titanium- Sia/David Guetta … “You shoot me down but I won’t fall”

    A Lonely Chord- Tsunami Bomb … “A lonely chord without a song, searching for an orchestration where I belong”

    Whether You Fall- Tracy Bonham … “Whether you fall Means nothing at all It’s whether you get up…”

    Devil in Me- Kate Voegele & “Almost Lover”- A Fine Frenzy… this is about broken hearts, but I like the melody for sad periods… hehe.

    Evil Beauty- Blackmill … No lyrics… But BEAUTIFUL music to just disconnect from the world.

    Hallelujah- Leonard Cohen … same with this… to me is not much about the lyrics, but the way it feels in general.

    Ella- Bebe … In Spanish, empowering women. “Hoy vas a mirar pa’lante que pa’ atras ya te dolio bastante” = “Today you’re going to look ahead, looking back already hurt enough”

    Everybody Hurts- REM … “Don’t let yourself go…”

    How does it feel- Avril Lavigne … “How does it feel to be different from me?”

    Only Happy When it Rains- Garbage

    Wake me up when September ends- Green Day

    In the End- Linkin Park … “I tried so hard and got so far, but in the end it doesn’t even matter”

    Somewhere I Belong- Linkin Park “I want to find something I’ve wanted all along, somewhere I belong”

    Damaged- Plumb … “Healing comes so painfully, and it chills to the bone… I’m scared and I’m alone”

    Bother- Stone Sour … “You don’t need to bother, I don’t need to be”

    Deliver Me- Sarah Brigthman … “Deliver me, out of my sadness”

    Change- Tracy Chapman … “How Bad, How Good Does It Need To Get?”

    Have You Seen that Girl?- Lee Ann Womack … “Have you seen that girl, that everybody says I used to be”

    The Warmth- Incubus … “Don’t let the world bring you down. Not everyone here is that fucked up and cold”

    Let Me Fall- Josh Groban … “Someone I am is waiting for courage. The one I want, the one I will become will catch me”, “Let me fall if I must Fall”

    Closing Time- Semisonic … “Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end”

  17. When I feel helpless I curl up into a ball and let Bjork’s Icelandic accent wrap me in a mystic cocoon of love and weirdness

  18. Whoa. Weird coincidence. I just made my own calm-down-don’t-panic playlist. Songs like Smile, Everybody Hurts, etc. I did this because I found out about Mal Blum and I fell in love with the song “Fine!” and I realized I needed a playlist like this, just in case.

  19. For me the number one song that has helped me through difficult times is “Heal Over” by KT Tunstall. Helps every time.

  20. Nice playlist for those kind of crawl in a hole days. I like the music of José González and Tiësto’s remix of “Crosses” is simply stellar.

  21. This is brilliant.
    This with a pot of tea is the perfect way to combat the depressing curl-up-and-regret-every-choice-I’ve-ever-made kind of feeling I’m drowning in. Thanks for making it!

  22. So, I’m listening to my iPod on shuffle, and as I start to look at the list, “Passing Afternoon” comes on and I think, “This would be a good song for this list”.

    BAM. It’s like we’re psychic buddies.

  23. “Sooner or Later” by Michael Tolcher.
    ‘Try not to focus on yourself / share that love with someone else
    Don’t let the bitters bring you down / don’t let anything bring you down’

    Click on my name for a listen. It’s super theraputic.

  24. I went through a “bad patch” of feeling helpless last winter working three jobs, having relationship problems that were completely beyond my control, blahblahblah. The only time I felt anything close to okay was when I would go for a jog and Eminem, Counting Crows (“Anna Begins” and “Rain Man”), or Florence and the Machine came on my i-pod. I guess I needed to feel angry, sad, or empowered, respectively.

  25. We should have an open thread about music. For realsies. So we can post and share our playlists.

  26. Pingback: Daily Prompt: Helpless | Burning Fire Shut Up In My Bones

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