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Mellow songs to add to your playlist

Art by Afreen Majumdar

Music means something different for everyone, and as the music industry constantly evolves, our tastes in music change as well. Sticking to what you love is great, but sometimes trying new things is just as amazing! Stepping out of your musical comfort zone may allow you to find new genres, bands, and songs that you'll come to love. I’ve written a previous article about ten songs to add to your playlist; all the songs in that article were amazing and unique, but none of them were very mellow. The songs below are perfect for chill days, when loud hectic music is too much. Listen to the songs below and find out which ones you love. 

First Day Of My Life, by Bright Eyes

Bright Eyes are an indie band originally from Nebraska. They became a band back in 1995, and broke up sixteen years later; however, they came back together in 2020 and have been prominent in the music space ever since. First Day Of My Life is one of their most popular songs, and for good reason. The melody is soft and sweet and drips like honey or rain into the listener’s ears. But above all, the lyrics are relatable. It’s about finding love, and how when that happens it’s like starting your life over. Conor Oberst, the band's genius, describes this as about waking up from a nightmare. It’s a fresh start brought on by the right person. The lyrics say, “yours was the first face that I saw” and “glad I didn’t die before I met you.” It delivers a hopeful message and shows that it’s never too late to find the right person. The song has been featured in many films such as the show “Chuck” and “Elvis and Annabelle.” If you enjoyed this tune, I would recommend listening to the entire album “I’m Wide Awake It’s Morning,” as well as my other personal favorite Bright Eyes song “Land Locked Blues.”

Off You by The Breeders

Kim Deal was the bass player for the Pixies throughout their whole main career. After they broke up, she created The Breeders with her sister Kelly, and together they used their unique sound and turned it into something amazing. Off You is a slow, quiet song, that takes some patience to listen to. Released in 2002, the raw lyrics and emotion are channeled through the soft guitar. Although the words are open for interpretation, they center around the idea of loss and heartbreak. Losing someone you’ve loved hurts, and that’s what Deal communicates in this song. The phrase “off you” channels the idea of being able to detach and let go, something that is so hard to do. The song was not an initial commercial success, but Breeders fans regard it as one of the most touching tunes that the band has to offer. That’s truly what makes The Breeders so amazing; their ability to connect with fans on a personal level. They have some other amazing songs, and their album “Last Splash” is one of their best.  

Waltz #2 (XO), by Elliot Smith

This is currently my favorite song, (which might not mean much because it changes every month, but I instantly fell in love with it the second it played. Elliot Smith is known for his melancholy music, with soft heartfelt tunes that convey lots of emotion. He struggled with depression, as well as addiction to drugs and alcohol. His parents divorced when he was less than a year old, and Smith was subject to physical and sexual abuse by his stepfather, before moving in with his real dad at the age of 13. Clearly, Elliot Smith lived a life that many people are grateful not to live. His past came to light as his fame began to grow, and many of his songs reflect his state of mind. When Smith was 34, he was found dead in Echo Park with two stab wounds to his chest, an apparent suicide. Waltz #2 was released on his album XO in 1998. There is also a Waltz #1 on the album, but the actual “waltz” is less pronounced, and I just overall enjoyed this song a bit more. Waltz #2 is a reflection of Smith's most painful feelings and experiences. It seems as though it’s about love, and partly it is, but the biggest part of it is anger. Anger at his stepfather, who abused him his whole life, and at the family he was forced to grow up in. However, it’s also a song of forgiveness, and he tells his mom that he doesn’t blame her for his stepfather’s actions. In the recorded version, Smith sings “XO mom,” while in other versions he omits the cloak and simply sings “I love you mom.” It’s impossible not to feel the hurt in Smith’s voice as you listen to this song, and that’s what makes it so amazing. If you’re a huge fan of this tune, I recommend listening to Smith’s other songs Needle in The Hay and Between the Bars.

Thirteen by Big Star

More than almost any other song, Thirteen by Big Star evokes emotion. It makes the listener really feel and that’s something not a lot of music can make you do. The soft guitar feels fragile and the vocals, although hesitant, come through strong and hopeful. Big Star was a band back in the 70s, and Alex Chilton, the singer and songwriter, had another band as well called The Box Tops. Big Star was not a very lucky band; when their first album, titled #1 Record, was released in 1972, it barely got sold anywhere despite its rave reviews. At that time, a member of the group broke up with his girlfriend and ended up in a psychiatric institution. The other members pressed on but without any more luck with distributions. But now, over 50 years later, Big Star has finally gotten a chance to shine. Their music is now known, and for good reason, as it’s amazing. The song Thirteen sings about young love and truly captures the feelings of first relationships. 

Upside Down by Jack Johnson 

This song might better be known as the “Curious George song,” and for good reason; Jack Johnson made it specifically for the Curious George movie. Jack Johnson takes lots of his musical inspiration from traditional Hawaiian songs, which is where he was born and raised. From the age of five, he was an avid surfer and was the youngest participant to reach the finals at Pipeline Masters in Maui at the age of 17. He moved to the mainland to go to college. He’s known for his timid playing style; he doesn’t rely on hectic guitar solos to show that he’s a talented guitarist. The song “Upside Down” centers around the wonders of curiosity. It was made for younger kids, so the message is easy to digest, but the song itself is beautiful and has become one of Johnson’s most recognizable songs.

These Days by Nico

Nico is a German singer and songwriter popular during the 60’s and 70’s. Born Christa Päffgen, she became known by her stage name when her acting and modeling career took off. With her stunning looks, it was easy for her to skyrocket, and her deep unique voice made her an interest in the music industry as well. Her movie work with Andy Warhol also got her connections with The Velvet Underground, (Warhol had worked with them before and recommended Nico for a collaboration). Eventually, the Velvet Underground got sick of playing with her and fired both Nico and Warhol, which only initiated Nico’s amazing solo career. “These Days” is one of her own songs; a lyricist named Jackson Browne had written it at the age of 16, but Nico first recorded it and made it known. The lyrics sing a tale of regret and remembrance, thinking about what could have been. You really feel that the singer feels isolated and alone. The last lines of the song say, “please don't confront me with my failures, I had not forgotten them,” which conveys what the song is all about; missed opportunities, regret, and learning how to move on.

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