A friend was going through my iPod last weekend. “How the hell is this organized, by year?” he said. (It’s not. That would make no sense.) He was on the playlist screen, and I have one for every year since 2005, which is when I started listening to music other than the Dave Matthews Band.
I love my annual playlist tradition. I add to them as the year progresses with whatever I’m really into at the time, or with a song that represents a specific event. When I go back to listen later, I am mentally transported to another time in my life.
The first song on my 2005 list – “Landed” by Ben Folds – played on repeat after I broke up with my first long-term boyfriend. I specifically remember hearing “One More Sad Song” by The All-American Rejects (judge away, there’s some bad stuff on there) in the car as I arrived in Saratoga Springs for a daytrip in summer 2006. I listened to Tegan and Sara’s “The Con” nonstop during another breakup in November 2007. MGMT was spring semester of senior year in 2008, you couldn’t escape “Bleeding Love” by Leona Lewis when I moved to the Lehigh Valley, and “Carried Away” by the French Kicks was in heavy rotation that fall. I remember hearing the horrible “I Gotta Feeling” Black Eyed Peas song for the first time at a bar in San Francisco in summer 2009. I listened to (and sang) “Possum Kingdom” by The Toadies on the drive home from my first Iron Pigs game early last summer.
Obviously, there aren’t good stories behind most of these songs. (I have “Bohemian Rhapsody” on my 2008 list because of the time Jen and I encountered an extremely intoxicated bachelor party at a bar in Toronto. One of the bachelor’s friends – who seemed very old at the time, though he was probably only in his early 30s – tried to slow-dance with me to the song, and he told me about how he danced to it in middle school, which only made him seem more ancient. That’s the best story I’ve got.)
But stories aren’t the point. I can listen to 2006 and instantly feel how I felt when I was 19 going on 20. (So if I’m in the mood to feel insecure and miserable, I know exactly where to turn!) This will be especially interesting to do when I am 39 going on 40, or 79 going on 80.
I’ve already got 11 songs on my 2011 list: Bruce, LCD Soundsystem, ‘N Sync’s “I Want You Back,” among others. I suspect I’ll someday be able to listen to 2011 when I’m in the mood to feel nostalgic for an amazing year.