I curated my first Spotify playlist a few weeks ago. “Curated” is a generous word; I was in the penny candy aisle, adding songs as they popped into my head, simply because I could, with no regard for the genre or decade. Into my bag went an unlikely combination of fireballs, gummies, and jelly beans and like a sugar rush and it’s inevitable crash, my playlist produced an emotional release that I desperately needed. There was something profoundly cathartic about inviting in more pain while I was still grieving over the loss of my 29 year marriage.
My playlist’s caveat is that I know that I will hate most of the songs once they begin to trigger sad memories about my clumsy adjustment to a life so different from the one I envisioned 29 years ago.
“It’s not you, it’s me,” I anticipate telling these songs, when I eventually delete or skip over them.
But for now I listen, and listen often. I play Emmylou Harris and Marc Knopfler’s “This Is Us”, because it reminds me of the man I left behind. Like the many songs we discovered together, I listen to it obsessively while I try to reconcile that there will be no “us” holding hands on the old wraparound porch, while we watch our grandchildren play in the grass, marveling at our good fortune. Unable to control myself I continue to listen to “our” love songs like Joe Cocker’s “Have a Little Faith In Me” or “All The Right Reasons” by The Jayhawks and think about what life holds for me in the next decade and whether I will ever find happiness again. I weep into my balled up Kleenex and hit replay, wondering how long this self-imposed torture will continue.
On good days, I listen to the trendy, grammy-nominated song “The Bones” by Maren Morris, a little too loudly in my air pods, while I take long walks to nowhere. It adds a skip in my step and I am proud that she is on my playlist, because I am not particularly good at discovering new music unless someone recommends it to me. I believe it is a short-lived love affair, along with “Circles” by Post Malone, which is already beginning to annoy me with a reminder of my winter with no human contact other than my cat. Eventually I will say to this music, “Sorry, It’s all about the timing.” But for now, I embrace it and walk a little faster.
There is also the music that feels like an old friend giving me a long, life affirming hug. I am hopeful that the oldie (really?!) “Talkin’ ‘Bout a Revolution” by Tracy Chapman will be everlasting since it got me through my tumultuous twenties and thirties and still feels empowering. I feel the same way about James Taylor’s “You Can Close Your Eyes” whose harmony gives me hope that I will be okay, especially when it feels least likely and the world is spinning out of control.
My bag ‘o music has become a much-needed vessel through which my emotions pour, as I muddle through my pain. Today is 70 degrees and sunny and I let the late, great Bill Withers fill me up with joy as I listen to “Lovely Day”. I get a message from Apple that my device is too loud and that I risk hearing loss, which I ignore and keep on walkin’.