Musicians, Music Offer Sweet Relief After a Terrible Week

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Life can get pretty dreary at points, and last week was, without a doubt, the dreariest week in a long time. From the massive fertilizer-plant explosion that devastated West, Texas to the Boston Marathon bombing and everything in between, our nation faced some pretty horrific tragedies in which many, many lives were permanently altered.

But buried within the daunting headlines, the silver lining was there, even as rough as shit got. As unfortunate and truly unfair as last week's tragedies were, from them sprung a renewal of sorts, with people rallying together to help ease the struggling of those most deeply affected. That kind of support is often lost in the fray, tucked away behind the demands of our daily lives. But luckily for us, in the times when we need it most, that support always surfaces, ready to remind us of just how badass people truly are.

Sometimes it just takes squinting your eyes and looking closer, beneath the rubble of what's fallen apart, to see it. And that's just what I intend to do here. I'm squinting, and there's quite a lot to be amazed by. Below is our list of all of the silver linings that surfaced last week -- with a musical twist, of course.

Dropkick Murphys raised $100,000 for Boston victims Just one of the hometown heroes to surface after the marathon bombings, Boston's own Celtic punk group jumped into action, raising nearly $100,000 for the victims of the marathon bombing by backing a tribute T-shirt. One hundred percent of the proceeds went to the victims.

"Sweet Caroline" pulled together a nation The nation - and yes, even the New York Yankees -- belted out "Sweet Caroline" at baseball games from coast to coast, tipping their hats to the Fenway Park tradition in anthemic honor of the city of Boston. The solidarity among the nation was pretty stinkin' evident, and honestly is something to be quite proud of.

A "Relief Mixtape" was released to benefit the victims of the Boston bombings Another incredible gesture came from Boston's own local music blog, Allston Pudding, and oh, about 130 local musicians. Shortly after the tragedy struck, the cofounders of the blog took to Facebook and Twitter to request a bit of what Boston has an abundance of - local music - in order to put together a mix tape in which the proceeds would be given to the victims of the bombings.

The response was overwhelming; the had to stop taking submissions for tracks on the relief mixtape once they reached 130 songs (which roughly translates to eight hours of music), and they've made it available for instant download starting at a $1 donation. They've raised thousands of dollars for the victims and also reminded the nation of just how resilient we truly can be.

Neil Diamond surprised Fenway Park at the first Red Sox game since the bombing Neil Diamond surprised the fans at Fenway Park at the first Red Sox game to take place post bombings, leading the crowd on a "Sweet Caroline" singalong that allowed Bostonians to not only to reclaim their tradition, but also to bring about some semblance of normalcy to life in the city. Oh, and just as an aside -- Neil reportedly flew in solely to surprise the fans, and I'd chalk that up to the fact that he's freakin' awesome.

Willie Nelson announced his 80th birthday concert in Austin as a benefit show for West's Fire Department Willie Nelson -- who we already knew was cool as hell -- reminded us of why we like him just so darn much by turning his 80th birthday concert into a benefit show that will help to support the West Fired Department.

Willie, who grew up a few miles from West, has strong ties to the area, and is not only donating all the proceeds from his birthday concert to the fire department, but is also encouraging fans to donate goods, funds or even blood to help support a community that has been absolutely devastated by the explosion. Damn, I just love him.

Baylor held a free-admission benefit for West, featuring Five For Fighting and Green River Ordinance Originally part of a university concert series, Baylor's administration jumped on the opportunity to support the residents of nearby West by changing venues and opening the concert up to the community as a free-admission benefit. Organizers donated proceeds from concert concessions, accepted cash donations, and parked two big trucks to fill with donated supplies for the folks in need.

Man Overboard released benefit shirts for the victims of the Boston Marathon Bombing The southern New Jersey boys from Man Overboard pulled together to benefit Boston, releasing a limited edition "Defend Pop Punk" shirt, with the proceeds benefiting The One Fund, which was launched by Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick and Boston Mayor Tom Menino. They've raised nearly $5,000 dollars thus far.

Bridge 9 Records released benefit shirts from New England hardcore bands Bridge 9 Records, Liberty Images, and four of Boston's own hardcore punk bands -- Death Before Dishonor, DYS, Have Heart, and American Nightmare -- teamed up to release four exclusive shirts in support of the Boston victims. They too teamed up with the One Fund, with all the proceeds will be donated to the victims. They've stated that they'll do anything possible to assist, and are doing their best to contribute.

So yep. Those silver linings are there, and I'm pretty amazed at how shiny they can be.

See redcross.org for ways you can help the people affected by last week's events in Boston and West.

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