Readers recommend playlist: your songs about repression

This week’s reader-curated playlist on the theme includes songs that take us back a couple of decades from Sonic Youth, Beautiful South and the Cure

Here is this week’s playlist – songs picked by a reader from hundreds of suggestions on last week’s callout. Thanks for taking part. Read more about how our weekly series works at the end of the piece.

It was Sigmund Freud who first popularised the term “repression” and inspired countless dense psychoanalytic treatises. But who among us needs heavy psychology books when a 10-song playlist can show how repression works?

Listen to the playlist on YouTube.

Repression, Grauzone’s Eisbaer – which starts us off this week – shows us, is the impulse to avert messy and complicated emotions. Without those emotions, we become inhuman, but maybe that’s not a bad thing?

Next up the Beautiful South explain, in You Keep It All In, that no, really, repression is awful. It lets us forget, but it also perpetuates violence, anger and resentment.

The Platters’ The Great Pretender argues repression only works so well anyway. The song’s protagonist may appear to be “laughing and gay”, but he is “adrift in a world of … (his) own”.

Perhaps it’s best, then, to resist the vulnerabilities of love in the first place? Billie Holiday’s Foolin’ Myself says that won’t work, either. And Brazil’s Astrud Gilberto confirms this with I Haven’t Got Anything Better to Do.

And yet, in spite of repression’s ineffectuality, societal expectations continue to demand it. In John Dowland’s Flow, My Tears, repression is the only way not “feel the world’s despite”. In the Shangri-Las’ Dressed in Black, conventional wisdoms force a girl to repress her love for a boy that’s “too wild” and too different.

St Vincent tells us in The Apocalypse Song that these societal expectations will leave us miserable lunatics, and yet they are unrelenting. And they can be gender-slanted, as in the Cure’s Boys Don’t Cry and Sonic Youth’s Little Trouble Girl.

Resistance may seem futile, but resistance is also the stuff of great music.

New theme: how to join in

The new theme will be announced at 8pm (BST) on Thursday 27 July. You have until 11pm on Monday 31 July to submit nominations.

Here is a reminder of some of the guidelines for readers recommend:

Samantha Birchard

The GuardianTramp

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