By Caleigh Horan
As I sit on a crowded Amtrak barreling through frosted Central Illinois, I am dumbfounded that yet another year has slipped through my fingers. Quickly approaching the end of this truly remarkable year, I have decided to reflect upon it in the best way I know how, through music. Here are a few of the songs that have carried me through 2017.
Cynicism - Nana Grizol
"I once had a lover, I’m not sure if I’ll recover, but I know it was worth it."
This gem came to me via a Discover Weekly playlist in early February this year, a time where I most definitely needed the wisdom it proscribes. Beginning with only a soft electric guitar and vocals, it slowly but surely builds in orchestral elements and depth, packing a punch with the last stanza. At its climax, we receive the lyric, “cynicism isn’t wisdom, it’s a lazy way to say that you’ve been burned,” followed by a joyous explosion of instrumental sound. This line has stuck with me ever since my first listening of the song. At several points throughout the year, I was met with cynics, hardened by the sharp cuts that life had dealt them, who threatened to squash my ever-present optimism. What I’ve realized, both through this song and my time with these opposing forces, is that cynicism, along with apathy, are simply cop-outs to dealing with the human condition. Passion and desire are what keep this world spinning for me, not someone’s snobbish opinion of why my taste in music is lame. This song effectively highlights this reasoning in the matter of 2 minutes and 30 seconds, a short but sweet masterpiece.
Sometime Around Midnight - The Airborne Toxic Event
“You just have to see her, and you know that she'll break you in two”
This is a quintessential New Years Eve song. I mean, how many other days of the year is there such widespread anticipation invested into the clock’s arrival at yet another hour? And when, exactly, does this emotional frenzy begin? Sometime around midnight. This song encapsulates the feeling I imagine many people experience on the last day of the year, of holding onto something that is inevitably fleeting. I know I’ve been there.There’s something about New Year’s Eve that offers an off-kilter sort of possibility, as if anything could happen on this final night. This time around, however, the girl gets away, resulting in an upheaval of violins and strident vocals. It’s magical, but not in the glitzy, romantic kind of way. Through the pain of this loss, we are met with beautiful resolve, as the song ends with a single electric guitar. I am a firm believer in the necessity of this type of pain, as terrible as it may be in the moment. We feel pain because we are alive, and that’s truly something worth writing about.
I’m back, riding the rails yet again. No, I cannot claim I have acquired any additional or supernatural wisdom in the short hours since I wrote my first entry. However, I do have a few jams that I’m listening to on this first day of 2018 that I would like to share with you wonderful folks.
This Is the Day - The The
"You smile and think how much you've changed"
This is a song I listen to on days where life feels a little bigger than myself. Right from the beginning, the quirky instrumentation dares you not to smile. Its characteristically 80’s sound brings me back to the idea of an era where times must have been a little simpler than they are now, a sort of golden age for the millenials. Here we are, at yet another year, another crossroads, and another opportunity to begin again. How will you do it differently this time? What will you do the same? You have 365 brand-spanking new days that you can make “the day,” right in the palm of your hand. Who’s to say that you can’t have several of these days “when things fall into place” in the next year? I hope to approach the new year with the belief that any day can be “the day,” and I hope that you can too.
The Heart is a Muscle - Gang of Youths
"I am human now and terrified, but want it all the same"
Gang of Youths is an Australian indie-rock band that has had significant impact on me since I discovered them through the CMJs (holla at KSLU) in early 2016. This track off of their sophomore album, Go Farther In Lightness, continues their ongoing spectacle through an outstanding display of compassion. Vulnerability and rock and roll typically don’t walk hand in hand, but this song demonstrates the possibility and reward that lies within opening yourself up to love in a way that makes you want to dance your pants off. Beginning with a persistent drumline that mimics a human heartbeat, we are driven forward through a reflection on overcoming lost love and starting again. Singer David Le’aupepe explains the meaning behind his depiction of exercising this love-based muscle, stating, “the more empathy we exercise, the more love we display, the more autonomy we demonstrate, the stronger that muscle becomes,” a line of thinking I aspire to carry into 2018. Is it absolutely terrifying to entertain the idea of exposing yourself, complete yet flawed, to another being? YES. But it’s the exciting kind of terrified feeling that you get as you ascend the peak of a roller coaster, knowing you’re about to get your shit rocked, but that you’re strapped in and cannot turn back. So I encourage and challenge you, to love, anything and everything in 2018, deeply and without restriction. “I haven’t had enough,” and neither should you.