Let’s get something out of the way. I’m probably going to be talking about more than one song a day. Perhaps full albums, perhaps songs that are somehow related. What can I say? I’m a rebel.
The first song that popped into my mind for sharing with everyone is “Breathe” by Laura Marling, but this song is a part of a gorgeous suite that opens the album Once I Was An Eagle, which I listened to every single day when my anxiety was at its peak. It’s an album I can–and often did–listen to straight through, the songs in the order Marling intended. This album would be my companion during early morning walks, when it was just me and the stars and a black, black sky. I would pick up a cup of tea and enjoy the cool air, the darkness.
Once I Was an Eagle was the album I listened to when I was in bed, too tired to move. And when I felt my anxiety creeping like a fire up my body, seizing my limbs, making my stomach heave, whether out in public or at home, it was “Breathe” I could go to. It’s the rhythm, the way I could count the syllables and time my breaths to them, but that’s only part of this song’s magic. There’s a quiet devastation to the lyrics that helped me process my own pain and anxiety in a way louder songs could not. It would calm the sea of bile in my belly. I would be able to inhale for a line, tapping the syllables out on my fingers, and then exhale, tap-tap-tapping.
Every time I listen to that album, I am transported to early morning, quiet cups of tea, pinpricks of lights in the sky. I’m reminded of isolation. Anxiety exhausted me, and I was incredibly embarrassed and sad and broken, but with this album, I found a measure of peace. I helped me turn isolation into reflection, helped me reenter the world. It’s really just that good. That beautiful. That honest. Both opulent and spare, quiet and powerful, devastating and exalting. It lifted me out of bed, out of despair.
Marling created a short film scored by the suite, four songs that flow together seamlessly. I highly recommend watching the entire film. Both the music and the visuals are gorgeous. If you do want to skip straight to “Breathe”, just go to around 12:20 or so. All I know is, without this album, I don’t know how I would have begun to heal or even deal with the intensity of my anxiety.