Back when I had a girlfriend, mornings were pleasant. They were a time for invigorating, gentle encouragement that—because women are more optimistic by nature—generally traveled in one direction. Hushed inquiries about the day’s agenda came my way, then bracing words of enthusiasm like, “Good luck with the meeting! It’s going to be a great day,” even when there was strong evidence to the contrary. I was an ungrateful bastard, I’ll admit it.

Now that I’m single again, mornings resemble Sunday service in a Pentecostal church. I babble to myself in tongues, fuss with my snake-like hair, and bray uncontrollably. I wake up convinced that I’m going to die. “Today, it’s curtains,” I tell myself. (Given the year we’ve had, odds are generally on my side.) Thank God for music, which, if not a girlfriend, is at least a faithful mistress. Herewith, a collection of songs that get me to the coffeepot and persuade me that I need to attack the day before it gets a jump on me.

Nathan King is a Deputy Editor for Air Mail