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Struggling To Soothe Your Nerves? These Songs Might Help


We've talked about a lot of heavy issues today, and it's been that way for a while, so we thought it would be nice to balance it out with a moment of self-care. That's why we asked our friend Stephen Thompson at NPR Music to recommend some songs to soothe our nerves.

STEPHEN THOMPSON, BYLINE: If you're like me, you've been obsessing over a lot of things that aren't music, which in my case is a dereliction of duty. So now that we've gone from worrying about the elections to worrying about what happens next, I'm here with some music to help you unwind. First up, everyone should keep at their disposal the 1974 album "Inspiration Information" by the great Shuggie Otis. I could describe the vibe, or I could just share a moment from the title track.


SHUGGIE OTIS: (Singing) We had a rainy day. I'm in a snake back situation. Here's a pencil pad. I'm going to spread some information.

THOMPSON: You could play Shuggie Otis' music at a barbecue. You could play Shuggie Otis while you're sipping a drink on your couch. You could play him in just about any context imaginable. Today, he just feels right. Shuggie Otis' music feels like the comfort of home. But my next pick, Regina Carter, takes you around the world. She put out an album in 2010 called "Reverse Thread." It fuses jazz, classical music and music from Africa. This song is called "N'teri."


THOMPSON: Listen to the whole thing, and you'll get Regina Carter's luxuriant violin, but also amazing solos on the accordion and the kora. Listening to it, you feel like you're at a Parisian cafe or some other amazing place none of us are allowed to visit right now.

And finally, as a piece of service journalism, I have to recommend a box set from 2015 that changed my life. It's called "Sleep," by the German-born composer Max Richter. It's eight hours of music that's meant to map over a good night's sleep. And it's so calming and warming. This is a little piece of the part where you're about to wake up. It's called "Dream 8 (Late And Soon)."


THOMPSON: That's Max Richter with the soprano Grace Davidson, I hope you find their music as soothing and necessary as I do. And I hope you get a little chance to breathe deeply. You've earned it.


MARTIN: That was Stephen Thompson from NPR Music. If you want more soothing music, check out our playlist, Isle of Calm. That's I-S-L-E of calm at nprmusic.org. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Stephen Thompson is a writer, editor and reviewer for NPR Music, where he speaks into any microphone that will have him and appears as a frequent panelist on All Songs Considered. Since 2010, Thompson has been a fixture on the NPR roundtable podcast Pop Culture Happy Hour, which he created and developed with NPR correspondent Linda Holmes. In 2008, he and Bob Boilen created the NPR Music video series Tiny Desk Concerts, in which musicians perform at Boilen's desk. (To be more specific, Thompson had the idea, which took seconds, while Boilen created the series, which took years. Thompson will insist upon equal billing until the day he dies.)

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