Inspired by WNYC’s Clock Your Sleep project, Soundcheck has been asking our listeners to help us build The Most Relaxing Playlist Ever. We received hundreds of comments, voicemails, tweets and emails -- each one revealing a bit about the sender combats stress with a beloved track.
The Most Relaxing Playlist Ever is now online in Spotify form, clocking in at a whopping 160 songs and more than 14 hours and counting. It is practically guaranteed to chill you out. It is also probably not safe for operating motor vehicles or heavy machinery.
I've been digging through your picks -- and, let me tell you, I am really, really relaxed. Here are my top ten favorite relaxing songs, as submitted by you folks.
Brian Eno, “1/1” from Ambient 1: Music For Airports
The composer, producer and pioneer of ambient music was one of the overwhelming favorites among artists that our listeners tap for relaxation. Drawn from this first installment of a four-volume series, Eno created the album's first track with Robert Wyatt of Soft Machine and producer Rhett Davies. Michael from Sea Cliff, New York writes that the album “is guaranteed to lower my blood pressure. Number one choice.”
Claude Debussy, “Clair de Lune” from Suite Bergamasque
Another popular favorite, Debussy’s 1890 work is hard to argue with: “Clair de Lune” translates to moonlight and it was inspired by a Paul Verlaine poem. Pick your version. Steve from Toronto prefers a theremin interpretation -- although that doesn’t sound very relaxing to me.
Miles Davis, “Flamenco Sketches” from Kind Of Blue
The iconic trumpeter was mentioned several times -- without any consensus as to which piece is Miles’ most relaxing. I’m going with a personal favorite (also suggested by Brent from New York City), but you could also go with his take on “Stella by Starlight” (suggested by E. David from MSP). Spike the Cat writes: “I listen to Miles Davis when I want to sleep. When traveling, I put my noise canceling headphones on with some Miles and I’m out.”
Stars of the Lid, “Articulate Silences, Part 1” from And Their Refinement of the Decline
These drone-driven Austin, Texas minimalists popped up a couple of times on our list. According to Matt from New Jersey, “When it comes to relaxing and easy listening, it doesn't get more chhiillll than Stars of The Lid.” James added, “The last two studio albums, in particular, will send you down the river of consciousness in total bliss.”
Rolling Stones, “Moonlight Mile” from Sticky Fingers (Played “over and over and over”)
This suggestion, from Anna S. in Westchester, really hit home with me. A few weeks ago, I was listening to Sticky Fingers on the subway while standing at the back of a semi-crowded car on an ordinary Thursday evening. “Moonlight Mile” came on, and this woozy ballad proved to be the perfect soundtrack to the scene inside the car. I did, in fact, listen to it over and over and over. Try it sometime.
Lush, “Sunbathing” from Gala
Some of you couldn’t limit yourself to just one pick. Which is fine. But our listener Steve chimed in with his own complete 22-song playlist, ready made for your next low-impact cocktail party. His collection features relaxing stuff from Pink Floyd, Roxy Music, the Eurythmics and the great shoegaze act Lush.
Erik Satie, The Gymnopédies (take your pick)
The French composer and pianist’s three soothing compositions are go-to works for film directors, sample-based producers -- and those of us who just need to chill the eff out. Gabrielle writes: “Classical music can be kind of tricky due to dynamic changes that occur in one piece therefore I created a playlist called Quiet Satie which only contains pieces that remain soothing throughout.”
Built To Spill, “Else” from Keep It Like A Secret
If sprawling guitar solos and strummy epics are your bag, Built to Spill is an excellent choice for kicking back. Our listener Josh in Portland Maine picked it for our Most Relaxing Playlist ever.
The Stylistics, “You Make Me Feel Brand New” from Let's Put It All Together
I know some of you could populate the entire top ten with Philadelphia soul. Let’s give a shout out to this smooth masterpiece, picked by Stu from the Bronx. And speaking of smooth music...
Christopher Cross, “Sailing” from Christopher Cross
I’m going to let Perry from New York City introduce this soft-rock monster hit: “The winner, hands down, is 'Sailing' by Christopher Cross. To me, it's akin to watching golf on television on a Sunday afternoon after a big meal. Nothing cool about it, but it does the trick. It is the Ambien of songs. And it knows it.” By the way, Perry was one of two people who referenced Ambien in their recommendation of “Sailing.”