Everyone has moments when things get tough, but we all have a favourite track that can turn things around. A single song can change how you feel. That’s your Torch Song — it lights the way out of the dark.

The Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM) has launched Torch Songs to bring together music lovers and top artists in celebrating the power of music to lift us out of life’s low points. Artists are recording exclusive versions of songs that have inspired them, and fans are invited to share their own Torch Songs.

Men especially can find it hard to speak up when things get tough, but Torch Songs shows it’s not unusual to struggle sometimes.

Torch Songs — songs that guide us out of the dark.




#whatsyourtorchsong
 
 



Blaenavon

Everything Reminds Me Of Her

[Elliot Smith]


It's funny to choose such a sad song as my TORCH SONG, but it just cheers you up when you realise someone has felt exactly the same way as you do now.

When we were offered the opportunity to be involved in CALM's Torch Songs project, I was always going to choose Elliott Smith. Now - because he's my number 1 dude of all time, selecting one of his dozens of perfect songs was a trickier prospect. 'Everything Reminds Me of Her' brings me back to autumn 2014, spending all of my time with someone I was very in love with and although things came to a bit of a sad end, I'll listen to this song and remember the good old times, reminisce, feel content in my nostalgia. Obviously the main message of the song hits home pretty hard, but it's some of the other imagery that affects me the most. I don't know how he got some of the most beautiful, abstract lines to fit so sweetly in this kind of rhythm: "the spin of the earth impaled the silhouette of the sun on the steeple". Also the instrumental breaks hold some of the most touching guitar playing I've heard. It's funny to choose such a sad song as my torch song but it just cheers you up when you realise someone has felt exactly the same way as you do now. It helps knowing that what's happened to you isn't the end of the world - someone else has been through it - and whilst Elliott's tale ended so sadly, I think his music has saved a lot of people from a similar fate.





Deadwall

Philadelphia

[Neil Young]


I feel very positive about self-pity

When it comes to mental health issues, I think it's weird the way we divide ourselves. We are not a mind and a body, we are just bodies. There's a paradox here; in separating mind and body, we almost give the mind too much credit and reverence. But on the other hand, when it comes to stigmatisation, treatment and funding, we too often fail to respect or recognise it enough. It's a troubling and damaging contradiction. I don't like the way we rank our endeavours as a species, so I don't see artists as being special at all, but that's not to say we don't play a vital role, because we do. Through this campaign I've reflected on how powerful and privileged it is to have chanced upon a platform to vent my feelings. Moreover, we often look to our artists to tell us something about ourselves or the human condition that we either didn't already know, knew but couldn't accept, or knew but couldn't express. There are thousands of songs for every feeling of course, not just melancholy and that is why music is almost universally cherished. We chose Philadelphia for two reasons. Firstly, it's a song about accepting yourself in spite of internal or external struggles. Secondly, it's a quite melancholic melody. I often reach for the effecting melodies because I feel very positive about self-pity. Pity contains empathy, patience and understanding, so it becomes one part of your psyche telling the other 'hey, it's okay'. It's an important psychological tool and perhaps one reason why sad songs are so popular.





Francis Lung

Rock Bottom Riser

[Smog]


…more like your last matchstick in the dead of night.

I chose this song because it makes me feel better about the times I’ve hit an all time low, and it reminds me that eventually you can always find a way to get back on your feet again. Musically, I love the descending chord pattern and the uplifting key change in the middle section. Maybe this is a less of a torch song, more like your last matchstick in the dead of night.





Frank Turner

This Year

[The Mountain Goats]


The refrain “I am going to make it through this year if it kills me”, is perfect for shouting out loudly, to yourself or to others, during the darker times.

I first came across CALM and the work they do a few years ago when my friend Dan wrote a moving piece about his struggles with mental health. It was all the more affecting for me because, despite being pretty good friends with Dan, I was not aware that he'd had issues to deal with. It was an eye-opener for me, a perfect introduction to the importance of the work that CALM does. I was flattered to have been asked to be involved with Torch Songs. My choice of song was easy - “This Year”, by Mountain Goats. I had a rough time of it in 2014 and 2015, for various reasons, both personal and professional. That song arrived in my life during that time and quickly became my battle anthem for surviving the slings and arrows. The refrain “I am going to make it through this year if it kills me”, is perfect for shouting out loudly, to yourself or to others, during the darker times. Music has always been a sanctuary for me, as it is for many people. Torch Songs is a wonderful way of highlighting that and trying to make a difference in the campaign against living miserably.





Lewis Fieldhouse

Bloodbuzz Ohio

[The National]



The floors are falling out from / everybody I know / Im on a Bloodbuzz / yes I am.

When this record came out, I spent quite a bit of time out trying to figure out what that lyric meant. To me, it was about the mania that creativity can bring on. The crazy energy it can give you to push through till 4am working on something, even through horrible adversity. Thats what Bloodbuzz Ohio, and a lot of The National’s work says to me. The real world can be directionless, inconsequential and overwhelming, but in the eye of that madness, there are sanctuaries of purpose. Creativity, and my work, is one of them. The music in this song is so driven, so feverish, it’s reassuring to hear Matt’s deep and patient voice just sailing through the chaos so effortlessly. It’s apologetic in some ways... ‘Lay my head on the hood of your car I / Take it too far” - in just wanting to be himself he pushes up against the people he loves, which we all do. This song reminds me that I have to reach out of the chaos and ask for help when I need it, and to forgive myself as I know my loved ones do, and I do others.





Lewis Watson

Leaving Blues

[Bombay Bicycle Club]


You've got this, I promise.

‘Leaving Blues' by Bombay Bicycle Club is a song from an album that I needed as a teenage lad. I was going through a pretty tough time, I had to move away from my friends, my job, my school, etc. and - although I was surrounded by an extremely supportive family - I felt very alone. this album and this song in particular became my comfort, I felt happy when I listened to it. musically, it inspired me a lot too, I remember thinking 'I want people to feel what I feel right now when they listen to my album' whenever I listened to it. the guitar melodies were what I loved most, Bombay have always created these dancing riffs and colourful chords that I love so much. I really wanted to do a version in order to tip my cap to the song but also to potentially provide the same comfort to those listening. you aren't alone, it gets better and it's not weak to seek help. you've got this, I promise x





Lower Than Atlantis

Strong

[Robbie Williams]


It's alright you don't always have to be the big man all the time.

We covered this song for a re-release of our album last year and it wasn't actually until we sat back and listened to it that we realised the relevance of the lyrics to this project. What we've always admired about Robbie and his lyrical style is that it's so instantly relatable - that's something we always try do in our music, tell it like it is. Strong is not only an incredible pop song, but an anthem to essentially say, "it's alright you don't always have to be the big man all the time". There's always a perception about men needing to be okay and be the strong ones - this song offers a different insight on that, even with somewhat lighthearted lyrics in parts. But I think that's what makes it so good. It's a story that I think a lot of men can relate to and we really enjoyed covering it!





neil cowley trio

Month of may

[Arcade Fire]



How many times has a tune lifted me out of the doldrums?

As soon as I saw the phrase ‘The Campaign Against Living Miserably’ I knew I had to be involved. Sounds like a motto for not only my life but a whole host of people I’ve met along the way. How many times has a tune lifted me out of the doldrums? How many times have I started a car journey in the pit of despair and finished up at the other end jumping up and down in my seat to a tune blaring out of my speakers? I hope this inspires guys such as myself to at least admit that there are dark days and feel that there are others out there who feel their pain.





Retro Kid

Tracks Of My Tears

[Smokey Robinson]


The toughest moments in my life have not always been the most obvious.

‘Tracks of My Tears’ is a song that oozes joy in its melody and uplifting tone, yet carries the underlying sadness and the sorrows of heartbreak. It was an obvious choice, as the toughest moments in my life have not always been the most obvious. It is easy to mask your feelings with positivity, when really all you want to do is crawl into a corner and let’s be honest – bawl your eyes out. Smokey Robinson hits the perfect juxtaposition between ups and downs, which is exactly how how life is – especially in the winter months. I live in Copenhagen, a city where people are quite heavily affected by the winter months and hours of darkness. During this time we get together, put some great tunes on and wait out the miserable weather. Electronic music for me has always given a lift like nothing else. Pumping beats until the early hours of the morning bring us together – especially in Copenhagen.





Rou Reynolds

Everything Is Borrowed

[The Streets]


We are innately vulnerable as human beings.

Unfortunately, many corners of society still pressurise men to keep their emotional problems to themselves and that 'strength' is displayed through silence or a 'stiff upper lip'. Massive respect to CALM for helping to break this archaic and dangerous myth and for all they do to help those in need!

Strength, in reality, is the complete opposite; it is opening up and revealing your vulnerabilities of which we all have because we are innately vulnerable as human beings. I’m honoured to be part of this project. 'Everything Is Borrowed' was one of the many albums that helped me through some hard times a few years back. It has such a peaceful and uplifting vibe and a nice simple sentiment of gratitude and love expressed in the Chorus. It reminds me be mindful of the fact that I often have no idea what the person next to me (be that a stranger or friend) is going through, so being loving and kind is the only thing that truly matters in life. And hopefully we can get to a stage where everyone feels comfortable and safe talking about their problems, and when doing so, they're treated with patience and compassion.


Load More.



Sam Lee

The Moon Shone By My Bed Last Night

[Traditional]


In every way a Torch Song

The Moon Shone on my Bed Last Night is in every way a torch song, although an old old song... hundreds of years perhaps. It’s a traditional song learned from the Scottish Traveller community. The Gypsy Travellers are a people much afflicted by depression, suicide, and social deprivation, so songs like these have been, for a long time, the medication and the therapy on offer to deal with and express the issues they experience daily. In many ways the Moon here being the torch that connects to lovers separated by distance and social class.





Satellites

Life's What You Make It

[Talk Talk]


That memory can break a smile onto my face no matter how dark the times

As a kid, in the midst of teaching myself bass guitar, I heard ‘Life’s what you make it’ and was struck by its infectious bass line and complete absence of bass guitar. I didn’t know you could do bass on a piano. And yet it still had such a groove. Musically, it shifted from major to minor and had a chorus that wasn’t a typical chorus. It just fascinated me.

So I saved up my paper-round money and bought the album - there formed my love of the album as an art form, which I still hold dear today. ‘The Colour Of Spring’ is still my favourite album. It sounds like it was recorded yesterday. An impeccable listening experience. The definition of a musical journey. I think I skipped not just meals, but food all together with headphones clamped onto my head for several days, as I listened over and over again, examining every little beat, note and sound, memorizing every word on the album sleeve and wishing I was one of the names of the musicians responsible.

‘Life’s What You Make It’ is not even the best song on the album, but without it I wouldn’t have found the record that, for me, changed music as a hobby into music as a life choice. When I hear it today it still sends shivers down my spine and I can vividly picture my spot behind the family sofa where I used to listen to music through headphones on the family stereo, while Mum, Dad and my sisters watched TV. That was my little paradise behind the sofa. That memory can break a smile onto my face no matter how dark the times.





tall children

solsbury hill

[Peter Gabriel]


It’s an absolute beast of a tune.

Songs seem to mean a multitude of things, not just to different people, but also within the same person at any one moment. I can be in the proper doldrums, then hear a song and my spirits will be lifted right up to a point where I wondered why I was so down in the first place. For me music works harder than anything I can ever say, it can do something that words just simply can’t. 'Solsbury Hill' epitomises this. There have been times when “I did not believe the information” and I just “had to trust imagination” whilst in the grip of that terror of my heart going “boom” in the moment.

The song symbolises my love for my family and close friends and is for me, galvanised by the words “grab your things i’ve come to take you home” – the security in knowing wherever I am in life, whatever mess I’ve gotten myself into, there is always someone there who will help pick up the pieces and bring me back to normality. Musically, 'Solsbury Hill' seems to glue together influences from pop, classical and world music. It’s an absolute beast of a tune.





The Vaccines

hope

[The Descendents]


I myself have been told to 'shut the fuck up' by friends when trying to open up.

I think every band I have ever been in has covered 'Hope' and it's still one of my favourite songs of all time. Growing up listening to punk rock was so empowering and cathartic because of its raw power and anger. Often though, as a young boy, it was hard to relate to lyrically, but this song (and the album it came from – Milo Goes To College) spoke to me so deeply. I was 12 or 13 when my friend first played it for me, and I listened to nothing else for months. Obviously a lot of men find opening up and talking about their struggles and their feelings very difficult. I myself have been told to 'shut the fuck up' by friends when trying to open up, and I think it's a real problem we face.

My relationship with songs like this one has helped me immeasurably through the years to get through tough times and I sometimes wonder what I'd do without them. The lyrics are pretty on the nose but few things feel as good as shouting 'I know some day, my day will come' which I've been doing since I first heard it, dancing around my teenage bedroom pining for all my first crushes. I think I'm a bit of a heartbreak kid, and it still resonates in the same way today. I guess theres nothing in the world quite like hope.





Tom The Lion

My Funny Valentine

[Chet Baker]


To sing My Funny Valentine is slightly a fool’s errand.

Chet Baker is the sound of a cafe we used to visit on Saturdays. Various members of my family worked there at one point or another. You could see my 15 year old big brother through the window, frantically washing up in the kitchen, doing his best to avoid the short-fuse of a busy, hungover and fearsome near all-female workforce of the sort you’d find running a veggie cafe, circa the mid-nineties. Chet’s voice was piped throughout at all times, lounging in cigar smoke, and quietly singing to us. And there he buried deep into my brain, and stays, fossilised with chocolate brownies and Saturday afternoons, Dad’s new ikea sofa, and a happy family. He still lives there, hiding behind the counter, dressed from the single album cover image I had of him at the time. To sing My Funny Valentine is slightly a fool’s errand - my voice brings with it very little in the way of profound comfort for me, but it might take me a mile or two, if only running on Chet Baker’s fumes. 





Twin Atlantic

The Rising

[Bruce Springsteen]


I kind of lean on this track

For our torch song we decided to cover The Rising by Bruce Springsteen. It's a track that's been very close to my heart all through my teenage years growing up, listening to it in the car with my dad, and I guess that's some of my fondest memories in life really is driving around the Scottish Highlands and epic scenery listening to a really uplifting piece of music with really inspiring lyrics, I guess whenever I have a moment of darkness or verging on depression, I kind of lean on this track to definitely bring me out of that slump. The idea that it can maybe help someone else that maybe feels like that or can inspire someone to maybe make music that sounds like this too, yeah that was the real simple reason why we picked this song and hopefully you enjoy this version.





Years & Years

both sides now

[Joni Mitchell]


I really believe that she's lived, been hurt and still figuring it all out.

At thirteen I taught myself piano from an old song book and Joni Mitchell’s ‘Both Sides Now' was the first song I learned. That’s the reason I chose to cover the song for CALM’s 'Torch Songs'. It made me into a huge Joni Mitchell fan and I have so many favourites of hers, but this song seemed special as it was the first. It's so simple and heartbreaking. She re-recorded an orchestral version much later in her career and my mum would sometimes play it in the car. I always loved those car journeys and feeling like I was sharing a connection with my mum and with Joni. I like watching her perform it live on the Mama Cass show in 1969 she's so commanding and graceful.

I love how she's so vulnerable, she sounds so wise and poetic and exposed. I really believe that she's lived, been hurt and still figuring it all out. I take a lot of comfort from that. It always feels like a thump in the chest at the end of the song when she sings "I really don't know life at all." It's a brave line, its sad but it also feels hopeful to me. There's always something new to be discovered. 





adysuleiman

Title

[Original Artist]


You've got this, I promise.

‘Leaving Blues' by Bombay Bicycle Club is a song from an album that I needed as a teenage lad. I was going through a pretty tough time, I had to move away from my friends, my job, my school, etc. and - although I was surrounded by an extremely supportive family - I felt very alone. this album and this song in particular became my comfort, I felt happy when I listened to it. musically, it inspired me a lot too, I remember thinking 'I want people to feel what I feel right now when they listen to my album' whenever I listened to it. the guitar melodies were what I loved most, Bombay have always created these dancing riffs and colourful chords that I love so much. I really wanted to do a version in order to tip my cap to the song but also to potentially provide the same comfort to those listening. you aren't alone, it gets better and it's not weak to seek help. you've got this, I promise x





Ady Suleiman

Lean On Me

[Bill Withers]


I love Bill Withers and this song in particular is so special. It’s a feel good tune and always picks me up. The lyrics encourage me to reach out to people when I’m low which always helps.

Honestly, it was my Mum who suggested [this cover] so shout outs to her. I mean, I love Bill Withers! He is one of my idols and the lyrics in this song are perfect but I’ve never really had a torch song before. Weirdly since doing this cover it has actually become my legit torch song. I’ve listened to it bare and it has helped every time so thanks for getting me involved and big thanks to Bill and Mum too.


#WHATSYOURTORCHSONG