My University Playlist

They say there’s music in movement. Swift, easy, loud, angry, happy, worried, desolate, perfect notes sounding their way out of laughter and tears and quirky dance moves and bad friends and best friends.

I never really got that music had meaning beyond lyrics until I became a full-time student, and listening to music became a privilege in between essays. I would take these short breaks between papers, and assignments, and I’d think about who I am because of music.

The following 3 songs are my university playlist—they help me through those moments of feeling stressed, tragic, and sometimes (often) just dramatic. Most importantly, these songs create meaning.

1. House of the Rising Sun – The Animals

Taking a breath with music in Cordova Bay

Taking a breath with music in Cordova Bay.

After high school graduation, I had to learn to sustain my own happiness. This was the song that came when no other song was willing. This was the song I listened to when I couldn’t sleep for the sixth night, the twelfth night, the thirty-fourth night, and counting.

This song was born of complete exhaustion. This song was a neat trick, an illusion. To some people, a squirrel, and to others, a cat. The best people saw both, but I knew it wasn’t really about them. The Animals explained that living was about the craft of appearing as something you’re not.

2. Earth Song – Michael Jackson

This song never made sense before university, but after a year in academia, I understood. Boy, oh, boy. The world is so messed up. Yet, it has the potential to be so gorgeous. Humans are tragic creatures, and there are so many problems we all contribute to.

This song makes me wish I could see the world in a hundred years, when women are paid equal salaries to men, when global warming isn’t treated like a conspiracy theory, and we realize how disturbing the human condition actually is. This song makes me wonder how everything became so whitewashed, and how so many cultures have gone extinct. This song makes me hope conservatism will die out, and that we’ll all be ashamed of ourselves that it didn’t die sooner. I think, in a sense, this was what Michael Jackson was trying to say.

3. I’ll Be Good – Jaymes Young

One of the best places to enjoy music and take in the beauty of Victoria... and study, of course. Mt. Tolmie

One of the best places to enjoy music and take in the beauty of Victoria. Mt. Tolmie.

This is where I’m at now, three years into my undergrad. Some wonderful people recently taught me to be aware of anyone you’re willing to forgo sleep to talk with, because they’re like drinking coffee.

They overwhelm you, awake your senses, and sneak into your veins until you’re addicted. They stimulate your cravings. This song serves as a reminder that once they leave, once they decide to go, all you have is the memories. All you have is your thoughts. And music.

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