2017 was a year of feeling good, for me. Just look at my Top Songs 2017 playlist on Spotify.
If you’re unfamiliar with what this is, Spotify puts together a personalized playlist at the end of the year full of your most played songs. Theoretically, it should be your ideal playlist. Everything on there is something you want to hear again and again, assuming you didn’t already burn yourself out on it.
Of course, it’s not really a playlist you can just play in the car or at a party – at least mine isn’t. The mood and the style changes too often, as I suspect is the case on many of these playlists. It’s my favorites from every different style of music I listen to.
For instance, most of the Moana soundtrack made it onto my list. I make no apologies.
But as far as feeling good, I didn’t really introduce a ton of new music into my life this year. Many of the songs are old-faithfuls, songs I can listen to again and again, year after year, and still find something new and wonderful in them.
However they ended up on the list, these songs made me feel amazing in one way or another, and each is on there for its own reason. The “feel good” aspect might not always be obvious, so I’ll delve into a notable few.
Another Day of Sun – The La La Land Soundtrack
“Cause maybe in that sleepy town
He’ll sit one day, the lights are down
He’ll see my face and think of how he used to know me”
It wasn’t that I didn’t want to watch this movie, but I wasn’t inclined to go out of my way to do so. This is strange for two reasons: 1) I adore musicals, and 2) I adore Ryan Gosling (obviously). I guess it had something to do with the fact that I don’t really identify with California culture, and I expected a movie full of clichés and blind optimism. Bleh.
So, I didn’t watch it until my best friend and her husband literally sat me down and made me. As usual, my friends turned out to know me better than I ever expect them to. Not only did I enjoy the movie more than I thought I would, but the ending did it for me. It was perfect. It was real. I was bawling (which honestly, isn’t saying much, but it’s worth noting). I won’t give it away in case you haven’t seen it, but it stuck.
Because in some way, shape, or form, many of us have been where Mia and Sebastian found themselves at the end of the film. All their hope, talent, and hard work had landed them in a place that may not have been where they expected to be, but still, they had found contentment, purpose, and happiness. Beyond that, they had found an appreciation for the journey – the people and experiences they’d encountered, the worlds that had opened for them, and the fleeting moments of meaning that will stay with them forever.
Another Day of Sun is the movie’s opening number. It literally is full of the clichés and blind optimism I had been initially opposed to, but there was something beautiful about it. The people in the song are stuck in LA traffic and they were singing about how broke they are. And yet…they’re there because there’s a chance that something good will come from their struggle and perseverance, and that slight chance of creating something fulfilling and worthwhile is still better than some desk job.
Oh, and I like the horns at the end.
Rosemary – Brian Fallon
“My name is Rosemary
(Sleep my baby, sweet Rosemary)
Yeah, you’d be lucky if you get to hold me
My name is Rosemary, and you’d be lucky to meet me”
Brian Fallon has my whole heart. He was the lead singer of The Gaslight Anthem, a band that has sadly disbanded, but he’s still active as a solo artist. His lyrics are everything I wish I could write. His voice is what I would want to sound like if I was a dude. His music is an entertaining vessel for the stories he tells.
Rosemary is one of those songs that hits you right in the gut…but you don’t realize it until a day later. Or maybe that’s just me.
The song, as I take it, is about a girl who’s disenchanted with her life, the people, and herself. She’s going through something and she just needs to be able to feel that for a minute – however unapologetically. She’s not trying to push her problems on anyone, and she’s not trying to be overly dramatic about her situation, but she needs to find her spark and passion again.
She’s no longer comfortable with her current situation, so much so that its affecting her mood and her overall outlook on things. Who knows what triggered the shift she’s experiencing, and who knows what’s shaken her to the point of questioning who she is and what she wants. Either way, it’s something she has to acknowledge and go through before she can move herself onward.
Maybe she’d lost herself. Maybe she’s lonely. Maybe she’s not sure of her next step. But by the end of the song, she remembers that she’s got a ton to offer to the people in her life and the world.
Well, either she actually remembers that and believes it, or she’s trying to convince herself of it. Whichever it is, she’s affirming her value, and that’s the first step out of whatever funk you might find yourself in.
Fake it ‘til you make it, Rosemary.
Lover, You Should’ve Come Over – Jeff Buckley
“Maybe I’m too young
To keep good love from going wrong
But tonight you’re on my mind so
You’ll never know”
Jeff Buckley is one of those beautiful souls that the world lost way too soon. If you’re not familiar with his work beyond his ever-popular cover of Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah, then…you should just listen.
Like, just do it.
He’s not exactly background music, though. You have to really sit and appreciate the lyrics, the inflection in his voice, his emotion, and his nuance. There’s real feeling there, and it’ll change you if you let it.
I read that he wrote this song one night while he was waiting for his lady to come over. This was the 90s…there was no incessant “Where you at?” texting, and there was no Snapchat to see which bar she was partying at or who she was with. He was just alone. Sitting. Waiting. Hoping.
She never came over, but I’m selfishly fine with that.
The desperation of wanting to connect with someone who may or may not feel the same way is something we can all relate to. The fear that comes with not knowing what the other person is thinking or feeling can be consuming and sometimes debilitating. The obsession over the what-ifs and the if-onlys can drive us to a point of irrationality.
But in those moments, we feel more than we often allow ourselves to feel. And occasionally, it’s OK to wallow in that feeling for a night or so. Those are the moments of truth, the moments of authenticity, and the moments of vulnerability.
Those are the moments that force us to confront the fact that we are all susceptible to feelings of guilt, doubt, and inadequacy – feelings that we may have thought ourselves too good for, or too smart for.
Through the course of the song, he comes to some interesting realizations about himself. Maybe he’s not capable of loving someone the way they ought to be loved, not because he doesn’t want to, but because he’s not good enough to. He has to acknowledge that his own shortcomings may have contributed to the loss he’s experiencing. He’s remembering what he had when he had it.
For all we know, it may have been too late for him to save his relationship with whoever this song is about, but that’s not really the point. The point is that he’s pining for her, and because of that, he’s embracing self-discovery.
The rest of the playlist is pretty diverse. There are some songs about drugs, some about sex, some instrumentals, and some that are not in English. But all of them are feel-good songs in their own right. Or maybe they’re actually quite depressing and that just tells you a whole lot about me.