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

Might we be so bold as to suggest that you subscribe to Ploughshares?

About Brenna Dixon

Brenna Dixon is a native Floridian with an MFA in Creative Writing and Environment from Iowa State University, where she teaches Composition and Fiction. Her fiction and nonfiction can be found in Southeast Review, South Dakota Review, Burrow Press Review, and other journals. She’s currently searching for a home for Game of Bodies, a collection of stories, and will return to her native land as a 2014 Artist-in-Residence at Everglades National Park.
This entry was posted in Ploughshares Bloggers and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to Ploughshares Playlists: When the Going Gets Tough, the Tough Get Moving

  1. Tasha Golden says:

    Such a great idea – Looking forward to more of these!

  2. Rebecca Meacham says:

    Wonderful– can’t wait to download and listen. I love the idea of matching movement with movement–I built my long-run distances this summer by running to the audiobook of WILD. By the end of the summer, I actually felt as if I, too, had hiked the entire PCT (but I held on to most of my toenails)!

  3. Pingback: Fact or Fiction

  4. Pingback: “When the Going Gets Tough, the Tough Get Moving: A Playlist for Cheryl Strayed’s WILD” on Ploughshares | Brenna Dixon

  5. Brenna Dixon says:

    That sounds like a fantastic way to pass the time on long runs, Rebecca! I’ll have to give it a shot. Both of you will have to come back and let us know how the playlist lines up with your own experiences with the book. Are there songs that come to mind for you as you’re reading Strayed’s book? I’d love to hear ‘em!

  6. Pingback: Get Paid to Blog from Home! « Fact or Fiction

  7. I’m reading WILD with my memoir students, and I’m definitely going to recommend this to them. A great teaching tool!

  8. Brenna Dixon says:

    As a teacher, I’m happy to hear it’ll help out in the classroom! Also, what a fantastic book to assign to memoir students!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong> <div align="" class="" dir="" id="" lang="" style="" xml:lang=""> <embed style="" type="" id="" height="" width="" src="" object=""> <iframe width="" height="" frameborder="" scrolling="" marginheight="" marginwidth="" src=""> <img alt="" align="" border="" class="" height="" hspace="" longdesc="" vspace="" src="" style="" width="" title="" usemap=""> <map name="" area="" id=""> <object style="" height="" width="" param="" embed=""> <param name="" value=""> <pre style="" name="" class="" lang="" width="">