The Peaceful Strains of “Comfort Music”

It sometimes seems as though every Food Network show or special is somehow connected to furthering our understanding and appreciation of comfort food — that culinary category of dishes designed to warm (and occasionally weaken) the heart by playing on various childhood memories, emotional heartstrings, and long-dormant taste-buds. Yet it’s easy to  see why Food Network spends such a significant percentage of their air time on the “comfort food” genre; it’s actually comforting.

 Over the years, I have discovered myself to be not only highly receptive to the sort of “culinary comforting” endorsed by Food Network Nation, but highly receptive to its audio equivalent, as well. I am a big believer in “Comfort Music.” In fact, I can usually tell when I have reached a certain level of stress (either at work or at home) by the amount of time I spend listening to Bach’s Keyboard Concerti. At root, their appeal is essentially the same to me as that of comfort food; they’re actually comforting.

 So, finding myself listening to them with increasingly regularity of late, I thought I’d share a couple of my favorite YouTube playlists — a piano version of Concerto #3 in D Major, featuring Glenn Gould, and a more “traditional,” period-instrument version of the same concerto, performed by Trevor Pinnock. The side-by-side comparison is great fun. And did I mention that they’re very comforting?

Nor are classical pieces the only works that I find comforting — I’m not that weird. (Well, OK, I am. But not in that way.) High stress levels tend to result in a higher percentage of Irish music around the Susanka household/workplace, as well. The Bothy Band’s “Rip the Calico” reel is in high demand at the moment.

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Anyone else find themselves responding in a like fashion to “Comfort Music?” And if so, care to share a few of your favorites? I’m always on the lookout for more…



Joseph Susanka has been doing development work for institutions of Catholic higher education since his graduation from Thomas Aquinas College in 1999. Currently residing in Lander, Wyoming -- "where Stetsons meet Birkenstocks" -- he is a columnist for Crisis Magazine and the Patheos Catholic portal.

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