I’ve discovered something through my years of speaking to many hundreds of people on the internet: you are either a person to whom music speaks to the soul, or you aren’t.

If you aren’t, this article is going to do nothing for you. But for those of you who understand how a song can create tension and relaxation, over and over – a massage of the heart – this one is for you.

I have crafted an almost 9 hour playlist that completely massages my heart. I often put it on at the beginning of the workday.

I doubt there’s anyone who would like this playlist as much as I do. But I love that it’s copiable. I can tell you why I chose these albums in this order, and you, music lover, can use that template to create your own Progression Playlist to massage your heart.

So here we go.

The Down Section

1. Modest Mouse – The Moon & Antarctica
2. Modest Mouse –
This Is A Long Drive for Someone with Nothing to Think About
3. Mew –

Living with depression and anxiety, most of my mornings start out pretty crappy. I can’t listen to something happy and peppy when I’m in that state. I require songs that meet me where I am, sit with me, and let me feel my sadness and anxiety and pain for a little while.

These three albums are each their own massage, but it’s a rough massage. The kind that really feels like it’s going to break you before it heals. They’re not easy listening, but they’re good listening.

And I love this as a first line to a healing playlist; I belt it out most of the time when it comes on:

Everything that keeps me together

Is falling apart

I got this thing that I consider

My only art

Of fuckin people over.”

Modest Mouse – “3rd Planet”

It’s perfectly self-indulgent. But there’s one tiny modification:

* I leave out the last song on this album, “Comforting Sounds”, and move it all the way to the end of the playlist. Why? Because it is one of the best, most healing songs I have ever heard. It packs such a punch at the end of the day. 

The Hope Section

4. Hozier – Hozier
5. Lorde –
6. Lorde –
Pure Heroine (Extended)

Then I need songs to soothe me – to tell me I can move on, and don’t have to be sad. These albums are still a little sad, but they’re a little peppier. They give a little hope. 

And that hope is encapsulated in the next line I always belt out:


Lorde – “Bravado”

Fuck yeah you will, Lorde. And so will I.

This half-poppy section also makes a great segue into…

The Up Section

7. Twenty-One Pilots – Blurryface
8. Bleachers –
Gone Now

My depression still hasn’t been cured halfway into the list (despite Lorde’s best efforts), so the important thing is that this Up section isn’t a full Up. It’s still self-aware and contemplative. 

The Calm Section

9. Lumineers – Cleopatra (Deluxe) 
10. Sufjan Stevens –
Carrie & Lowell

What goes up must come down, but we want to come down gently. This time when we go low, it’s better and more calm than it was this morning. We’re more at peace. 

The Lumineers make a great transition between up music and calm music. I cannot stop myself from singing, “O-Ophelia, you’ve been on my mind girl since the flood.”

And I once heard Sufjan Stevens described perjoratively as “just Ed Sheeran for art history majors” but I don’t even care. This album brings me from 100 to 0 in the best way. 

And it also lays the important groundwork for this epic conclusion:


This playlist within a playlist is full of emotional roller coasters. You’ve been sad, angry, collected, peppy, confident, content, and calm. Now prepare to feel all of that at once for a finale that’s around 45m long. 
I’m always looking for additions to the tail end of this list, so if you know of any epic, multi-part songs to add, please let me know. (Musicals don’t count; I love them, but they tell a story I can’t jump in the middle of.) 

Here it is: 

11A. Coldplay – “Death and All Of His Friends” (I know, don’t @ me.) 
11B. Arcade Fire – “Wake Up” (each AF album is its own coaster, too) 
11C. MCR – “Welcome to the Black Parade” (I KNOW, DON’T @ ME)
11D. Queen – “Bohemian Rhapsody” (because of course it is)
11E. Green Day – “Jesus of Suburbia” (ugh, I know, don’t @ me)
11F. Pink Floyd – “Eclipse” (another rollercoaster of an album) 

And finally, we bring it back full circle with one of the best songs ever produced:

11G. Mew – “Comforting Sounds.” (Please @ me; does this song speak to you as sweetly as it does to me?) 

You’re welcome. Enjoy