Fourth Estate/ Madalyn Godfrey

Four albums across six decades recommended to help you stay in touch with the human experience


It is easy to get caught up in mundane and repetitive life experiences, especially with school and work. While tight schedules may make it hard to change your daily activities, sometimes a simple listen to a song, or a whole album in this case, can make all the difference in your day and help you reconnect with feeling more “human.”

Here are four albums James Carlisle recommends you should listen to during your daily commute or walk to class.

1. “Songs in the Key of Life” (1976) – Stevie Wonder

Stevie Wonder has always had a unique knack for infectious grooves and chord progressions that brighten your day. This album is his magnum opus and as a double album, it’s easily his most far-reaching. There are songs about joy and love, sorrow and heartbreak, injustice and ignorance, nostalgia and the passage of time. The album is a heartfelt, optimistic outlook on life that embraces universal experiences of the caring side of human nature.

2. “OK Computer” (1997) – Radiohead

“OK Computer” contains ruminations of detachment, alienation, dread, anxiety and paranoia in a rapidly advancing world relating to the experiences of dehumanization for a job that does not care about you. With melancholic songwriting expressing the lack of individuality, the album eerily describes the struggle of connecting with the things around you when everything is moving too fast.

3. “Helplessness Blues” (2011) – Fleet Foxes

When you become older and more independent, you begin to ask yourself a series of questions: “what am I doing with my life,” “what kind of person do I want to be,” and “what kind of impact am I trying to leave on the world?”

Fleet Foxes’ sophomore album spends its 50-minute runtime pondering those questions. Frontman Robin Pecknold presents a palpable sense of dreamy, romantic idealism about contributing something greater than yourself while clashing with the passage of time. The soundtrack is wonderfully inspiring to the introspection of adulthood.

4. “Mr. Morale & The Big Steppers” (2022) – Kendrick Lamar

Kendrick Lamar has garnered a reputation for speaking about the Black experience, especially through nuanced dissertations on fame, injustice and responsibility. His reflections on the responsibilities that lie in these experiences resulted in his album “Mr. Morale & the Big Steppers,” his most honest one yet.

“Mr. Morale & The Big Steppers” deconstructs the role of a savior and explores grief, trauma, vices, infidelity and ego. While denouncing hypocrisy, the album rejects moral absolutism in order to emphasize the empathy of human nature.

What are you waiting for?

Get out of your daily cycle and invite these albums to tether you back to humanity; you may need it more than you think! And who knows, one of the albums may soon hold your new favorite go-to song the next time you are stuck in traffic.