Every semester I add a few songs to my starred playlist on Spotify. The playlist becomes like a stroll through time – how do my tastes in music drift? What was my it like at that period of my life?
And at the end of every semester I feel there’s a song that represents it. I don’t choose it, it just bubbles to the surface.
- Hold On When You Get Love And Let Go When You Give It, Stars (lyrics): A song about being open about love (which has been a theme this year), about not taking it for granted. Songs that have this mindset about love resonate with me – like Heart to Heart, Take a Chance on Me, You Can’t Hurry Love, Brighter than the Sun. (On the average I like old songs – like 80’s songs better – because they suggest a slower pace of life, and a more open, uncertain, wait-and-see kind of view.)”You can evoke the stars above But that doesn’t make it something,” questioning the tendency to see the relationships we fall into as destined, or even deserved endings to happy stories – when they are in fact, just random happenings.
“What do I do when I get love?” (Actually, it’s “lonely”, but I always mishear it as “love”.) Not knowing what to do when you get love is very strongly not taking it for granted.
“The only way to last… the only way to live it, is to hold on when you get love and let go when you give it.” Because love isn’t about clinging. Giving love is as much about letting go.
And the rest of the starred songs, with some little notes.
- Illuminate, Afrojack: “Open up your window shades and illuminate…”From a music video commemorating someone I knew who committed suicide. For a while I would listen to this song in the morning as I opened the window shades. He was always full of boyish energy – living life to the fullest – and made it part of his dream to always help others.
How could I be more like that?
- Samson, Regina Spektor: “Ate a slice of Wonder bread and went back to bed…”I heard this song from a friend 3 summers ago, but it didn’t have so much of an impact then. It’s a mellow song. I wasn’t at all mellow back then, found this and other songs by her kind-of boring. But now life feels a lot more about lasting than it did back then.
- Signaling Through The Flames, The American Dollar: Late night, I’ve listened through American Dollar’s songs lots of times. Found them on the Deep Focus playlist on Spotify which I’ve also played lots of times. Feelings of distance, depth, darkness.
- Naked As We Came, Iron & Wine (lyrics):”One of us will die inside these arms
Eyes wide open, naked as we came
One will spread our ashes round the yard”
It seems a calm acceptance of mortality. One person will die first. Even without the lyrics, the song is so beautiful.
- Branches and Constellations, The Echelon Effect: A calming, late-night piece.
- 5 Years Time, Noah and The Whale (lyrics): A love song, imagining a relationship solidified over time, where two people are just… comfortable and happy around each other.
- Chasing The Sun, Sara Bareilles (lyrics): Pursuing dreams.
And a few honorable mentions:
- Miss American Pie, Don McLean (lyrics): “Bye bye Miss American Pie…”A song from a friend I loved dearly. I’ve always thought it a silly, lighthearted song (in a good way!) as she introduced it to me that way. But reading the explanation, it’s a really deep song bemoaning something that had been lost in the “American experience” – some golden age of music and openness that had gone. And the metaphor only strengthens my association between “Miss American Pie” and my friend.
- Helena Beat (lyrics): “I tie my hands up to a chair so I don’t fall that way.”Understanding one’s dark tendencies, and trying to prevent them.
- Bleeding Wolves: Listened to this a few times when I went running by the river in the night-time.
- Battle hymn of the republic (lyrics): When I went to see Garrison Keillor, he finished by having us all sing this song together.
- Anna Rose, Vienna Teng (lyrics): “Your love makes me see things so clearly.”There’s so much talk about love “clouding” people’s vision. But really true love clears up one’s vision. It gives me a thread to follow, a sense of what’s valuable. The moments when I love something are those when I feel like I know what to do, when I know what I should be struggling against. And those moments when I don’t, I’m questioning what is it that I should even be doing? Too much stuff is meaningless, and focus gives meaning. So it’s another reminder to love.