Comics and music go hand in hand, and there’s nothing quite like putting on that perfect playlist, sitting down with a good story, and getting lost for a while. We’ve tasked our best writers with crafting the ultimate mixtape to compliment their favorite comics, to hopefully introduce you to comics you might not have tried and artists you might not have heard.

Since her debut in Alias, the 2001 Marvel Max series by Brian Michael Bendis and Michael Gaydos, Jessica Jones has become emblematic of a kind of deeply flawed female protagonist that there are far too few of in popular culture. Living with PTSD, a drinking problem, and a self-destructive streak a mile wide, she’s always created as many problems for herself as she solves for others in her job as a super-powered private detective. In recent years, her marriage to Luke Cage and the birth of their daughter has brought more stability into her life, but the current Jessica Jones series, also by Bendis and Gaydos, brings all of that stability into doubt.

In assembling this mix tape, I looked for songs that embody the conflicts and contradictions within Jessica Jones and her stories. Songs about flawed and troubled people searching for something to keep them going.

  • Your Dirty Answer

    Kristin Hersh (Sunny Border Blue)

    Kristin Hersh might be the Jessica Jones of indie rock. She’s spent her long career writing songs that plumb the depths of her own psyche with no shame. This song in particular is a love song that unspools like a car careening off the road. Someone is driving, but they’re not in control.

  • Laughing With A Mouth Of Blood

    St. Vincent (Actor)

    As the title implies, this is a song about trying to make light of everything in your life going wrong. Laughing it off and telling everyone you’re fine, even as you bleed from the mouth. And even as you tell your friends it’s okay, you wonder if they’re your friends at all.

  • Inside

    Patti Rothberg (Between the 1 and the 9)

    Another song about pretending everything is fine, but this one specifically focuses on a sense of isolation that comes from not letting anyone in. When you don’t trust anyone enough to share your problems with them, you may eventually find that nobody trusts you either, because you never gave them a reason to.

  • Can't Get You Out Of My Head

    Flaming Lips (Fight Test)

    This take is so dark that I very nearly left it off the mix. The Flaming Lips take an upbeat pop song and transform it into something tortured and unsettling. The greatest trauma in Jessica Jones’ backstory is that she was mind-controlled for an extended period by Killgrave the Purple Man, who forced her to love him. It took her years to get him out of her head.

  • She Will

    Savages (Silence Yourself)

    Here the self-destructiveness moves into high gear. Savages paint a portrait of a woman losing herself in her worst impulses even as she projects an image of strength to the world at large.

  • Delicate Cutters

    Throwing Muses (Throwing Muses)

    A song about delving into the darkness of your own psychic landscape in the name of rooting out your problems. Amidst the trauma and pain, a voice insists that there is “another ending,” one with children. A ray of light through the darkness.

  • After Dark

    Le Tigre (This Island)

    Among other things, this is a song about falling in love with a one night stand, and realizing how much more you can offer each other. It’s a song about reaching out to someone when you aren’t the sort of person who ever reaches out to anyone.

  • Glory Box

    Portishead (Dummy)

    Building off that last song, this classic is about making the decision to let yourself be vulnerable, to let yourself fall in love when you’ve long since given up on the idea that falling in love was something you ever might do. About letting the wall you’ve built around yourself crack.

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