NPR logo Post-Op Pop: Choose Your Musical Painkillers

Post-Op Pop: Choose Your Musical Painkillers

Not all suffering can be fixed in the operating room. What songs do you use to treat your aches and pains? hide caption

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Not all suffering can be fixed in the operating room. What songs do you use to treat your aches and pains?

In the past few weeks, NPR Music has been transformed into a twisted sideshow of injury and infirmity. Without delving into all the grisly details — though my freshly grafted gums urge you to floss regularly, while Mike Katzif's broken arm suggests that you step carefully when ascending your porch steps — it's been a veritable parade of catastrophe around here. Which, in turn, has had us thinking about recovery, healing, comfort food and the musical equivalent of soothing Popsicles, warm chicken soup and delicious Motrin.

Bob Boilen and I have discussed the topic at length, in light of our shared love of King Creosote and Jon Hopkins' recent album Diamond Mine, a sublime and enveloping 32-minute journey that practically doles out foot rubs. I've yet to encounter a low-grade headache or irritating commute that couldn't be zapped by a trip through Diamond Mine — especially when paired with a healthy diet of Aleve and screaming at slow-moving motorists — and I know Bob uses that record as a substance approximating medicine.

For me, Diamond Mine has recently joined an iTunes playlist titled "Comfort Food," which also includes head-clearing instrumental works (by Stars of the Lid, Sigur Ros and others) and perhaps my favorite album of all time, Clem Snide's Your Favorite Music. (That record has been a lot of things to me — friend, masseur, prescription-strength painkiller — and I've spent much of the last 11 years singing its praises.) Laura Gibson, Sera Cahoone, Shuggie Otis, The Kinks, Nick Drake... each one has been a cure of some kind, and I can't say enough about their healing qualities. I recently shared a car ride with Bob Boilen wherein he got lost (figuratively speaking) in the dreamy gorgeousness of Sandy Denny's "Who Knows Where the Time Goes," so I know my own playlist is woefully incomplete.


So, what are your musical painkillers?