Ploughshares Playlists: When the Going Gets Tough, the Tough Get Moving


In our new regular series, we’ll recommend the ideal music to accompany some of our favorite books. If you have Spotify, make sure it’s open and you can listen along below; otherwise, buy the songs, find a comfy chair, and get reading! —Andrew Ladd, blog editor.

Cheryl Strayed’s 2012 memoir, Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail, is, in a word, about healing. It’s about coming to terms with yourself in the wake of unspeakable loss. It’s about being “the girl with the hole in her heart” and then not being her anymore. And, really, who among us hasn’t been that girl? (I’m looking at you, too, guys.)

I read Wild in the wake of a personally tough year, and maybe it resonated with me so much because, like Strayed, I found that clarity came with forward movement. In 2012 my little black Saturn carried me across the Mississippi River, to the North Woods of Wisconsin and Minnesota, through Utah and Colorado, and into Oregon and Northern California.

I hiked the rocky South Dakotan Badlands and up snowy Montana mountains until my toenails fell off. I walked barefoot in the surf of the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, sand sticking to my skin. By the end I had made my way to and through over fifteen states.

Perhaps this is why it makes sense to me that a woman who lost her mother and her husband and her siblings, in one way or another, would walk the Pacific Crest Trail to fill that hole in her heart.

It is the honesty and bravery and humanity of Wild that I aim to share with you through this playlist. Cheryl Strayed’s memoir is equal parts self-destruction and healing, weakness and strength, dark edges and silver linings. But it is wholly movement. So are these songs.

“Let Your Heart Hold Fast” – Fort Atlantic
“Broken Boy Solider” – The Raconteurs
“Animal”- Miike Snow
“Gold Coast” – Grouplove
“From the Sky Down” – Paleo
“See America Right” – The Mountain Goats
“Bloodbuzz Ohio” – The National
“Take Care Kiddo” – The Wandering Bears
“The Latter Days” – Frontier Ruckus
“Shake It Out” – Florence and the Machine