Kristin Recommends “Dancing In The Dark” by Lucy Dacus

I started writing this recommendation with a light Googling. It turns out that this song that Spotify threw my way a few weeks ago was recorded in honor of Lucy Dacus’ father, who shares a birthday with a singer they both loved — Bruce Springsteen, of course. And from there, I couldn’t help pondering how this song evolves through thirty-five years of music and filtered through the lens of and a female performer.

I love the way Dacus holds this song up almost like a mirror. How Springsteen is a portrait of Americana, and Dacus is here to take it for herself. I keep coming back to the line “I wanna change my clothes, my hair, my face” sung by a virulent man is meant to be disarming, in a woman this kind of self-scrutiny is expected, almost virtuous. Dacus makes this line less confession and more an assertion. It’s a kind of a catalyst. From here the energy builds with the tempo of the song. It’s the spark.

How does one consider “You sit around gettin’ older / There’s a joke here somewhere and it’s on me” in Dacus’ voice? Aside from the naked beauty of her performance, there’s the fact that she is twenty-five. When the Boss performed it he was thirty-five. And while, yes, this is probably coincidental, I know some of Dacus’ other work and her writing style and I wonder if the way she sings this line might be tongue-in-cheek. Yes, women have an expiration date. She knows this. I know this. And the joke is this: She doesn’t fucking care.

I mean, Lucy Dacus’ cover of “Dancing In The Dark” is just lovely and wonderful and well-crafted and a perfect song to throw on if you’re looking for something upbeat and nostalgic. Of course it’s all of those things. But in a way — and perhaps this is how Dacus makes this song her own — it’s also a sort of journey into owning feminine joy in a such a clever little way that it has earned a place in my heart that I can’t quite put my finger on. But I can hit the repeat button. So I will.

(Song recommendation by E. Kristin Anderson)

Erica Recommends: “Dream State” by Son Lux

Image from Son Lux’s Bandcamp

In 2018, I was taking a gap year. The pockets of free time I had were many, leaving me with a desire to seek out new music, something different from my regular playlist of indie and mainstream pop.

This was when I stumbled upon Son Lux. I was mesmerized by the song that this dance was choreographed to. I mean, it is pretty difficult to look away from people being painted in gold, dancing as Ryan Lott sings about dreams and days that have gone past.

It spoke to me, a directionless, lost, 20 year old, stuck in a minimum wage job, trying to figure out what she wanted in life. There was this sense of invincibility that I felt from the lyrics, in the part of the song where it dies down, only for the music to swell, building up to the post-chorus. The lyric of “out of the dark day, into the brighter night” is something that will stay with me for a long time. The imagery struck me. I would probably never know the real meaning behind the lyric, but it felt like journeying from things that you know, that may not be what you want (“the dark day”) into something more unknown, something that may turn out to be bright (“the brighter night”).

Inspired by this, I created this piece of art.

Looking back, I think I found much solace in one part of the second verse, where it goes like this:

Will we survive in this, our new wilderness?
We have nothing on our feet

Nothing else was able to encapsulate my feelings in that time of my life that perfectly. That gap year may be well behind me, but playing this song takes me back. It feels like being transported to another world, another time.

Want to feel invincible for 5 minutes and 30 seconds? This is the way to go.

(Song recommendation by Erica Yong)

Sam Recommends: “That Thing You Do!” by The Wonders

Today, I’m bringing you a song from one of my favorite movies of all time, That Thing You Do. While The Wonders may be a fictional band, that doesn’t diminish just how rockin’ of a track “That Thing You Do!” is. It’s truly catchy as hell, and I just know you’ll love having it looping in your head for the rest of the day.

In fact, all of the songs from the film’s official soundtrack are pretty solid. This title track in particular captures the same wholesome, flirty, and fun vibe that a lot of the rock music of the late 50s/early 60s embodied. The song and the film are both nice palate cleansers from the noise, problems, and general chaos of our modern day.

The next time you’re feeling overwhelmed by the endless scroll of bad news in your feed, step away from your computer, lock your phone in a drawer, and sync this film up. I think you’ll enjoy your 2 and a half hour trip back in time.

(Song recommendation by Samantha Lamph/Len)

Mileva recommends: “For the Innocent” by Villagers of Ioannina City

It’s another one of those nights I’m flabbergasted at reality. It gets tiring, falling from the clouds all the time, that’s one of my favorite lines lately, because it happens more and more often. Two are reported dead following a fire in a camp for refugees, which is actually a concentration camp in disguise. The word ‘disguise’ is controversial, as one can obviously see it as it is, except if talented in turning a blind eye to reality.

It’s been my dad’s nameday today and we’ve spent the day celebrating. I introduced my family to this song, since it’s a new one and I found out about it recently. My dad is only into folk music. Our tastes in music have always been different. So that was a compromise. Villagers of Ioannina City, or VIC, are a folk rock band I ran into some years ago at a festival. I never expected to like regional music from Epirus, yet they made it sound appealing. Despite the English verse, my dad enjoyed it. We enjoyed ourselves, while refugees got burnt, just because they were unfortunate enough to be born on a different corner of the planet. Police responded with tear gas.

I watched the news when I got home. I listened to the song again and again, until anger overwhelmed me.

“We will stand against all wrong
With all the strength we’ve got
And if we stand together as one
We will overcome.”

Anger is essential in cases like this. Anger is a weapon against despair. If you don’t lose your mind over this, you clearly don’t have a mind at all.

And anger shared is power. What this song delivers, along with anger, is hope. Hope that one day, we will be strong enough to make the world a better place for all.

(Song recommendation by Mil Ana)

Alma Recommends: “Señorita” by Shawn Mendes & Camila Cabello

Photo Credit: Pixabay

I have had many nicknames and pen names throughout my life, and have gained a few more over the last few years. Some I chose myself, and I use them to identify a side of me or fulfill a particular role like being an artist. Others though have been given to me by people that I care for in life. And those not only make me feel unique and special, but they carry the character of the relationship and define who I am in it even in their simplicity. They may not be anything out of the ordinary to others, but they are a term of endearment that defines the special connection between me and someone else.

That is why I love it when you call me señorita. Camila and I sure share that sentiment. It’s soft, sexy, sweet, and speaks to my roots and the raw parts of me, all the things that I could feel alive between us from the first day I met you. I still remember that cold night.

I wasn’t as lucky as Camila, whom this happened to in Miami on a day filled with hot air from summer rain. I was in New York City, on a cold night where you could still feel the wetness of the lingering snow being pulled into the air by the razing cars that drove by.

Meeting you that night was not something I expected to happen. I wasn’t even supposed to be at that party. We shook hands and said hello, but I don’t think we even knew our names before our bodies were intertwined, dancing for hours under the spotlight, close to one another becoming one.

It felt like ooh la la la, yeah.

From then on, my blood would rush through my being every time you called me señorita. It was as intoxicating as your touch. But we live in different realms and opposite dimensions, and it feels impossible to be together.

I wish I could pretend I didn’t need ya,
but every touch is ooh-la-la-la

So we have tried to untwist the many levels of the “us” and be just friends.

You say we’re just friends.
But friends don’t know the way you taste, la-la-la.

I no longer know how to make it work. I’ve packed my bags with all the feelings and emotions that still lived with me and tried to go. More than once. They all say I should be running. And I genuinely wish it wasn’t so damn hard to leave you. But just like when you call me señorita, I feel the pull, the sense of comfort and belonging next to you. And I know the feeling is mutual just how it feel for Shawn when he says:

You keep me coming for ya.
All along I’ve been coming for ya
And I hope it means something to you.
Call my name, I’ll be coming for ya 

There’s just some things that never change. And never will.


Follow me on Twitter for more thoughts, poetry and my writing journey

(Song recommendation by Alma Awakened)

Sam Recommends: “Digital Love” by Daft Punk

Daft Punk has no shortage of recommendation-worthy tracks, but this week I’m throwing my weight behind “Digital Love,” an auditory sugar rush that never fails to flood my brain with serotonin.

This is one of the purest, happiest love songs I‘ve ever heard. Probably because it’s about the earliest stage of love, before it can really be called love at all: those early days of infatuation when a crush is just beginning to bloom. Which, in my opinion, is arguably one of the most thrilling stages of love.

“Digital Love” sounds like my middle and high school crushes used to feel. Invigorating and dreamy. Magically intoxicating. Mildly obsessive. Something totally brand new. A sweet, colorful fantasy to drown out the monotony of the day to day.

Let “Digital Love” wrap its arms around you; I’ll be dancing right beside you.

(Song recommendation by Samantha Lamph/Len)

Emery Recommends: “Flowers in December” by Mazzy Star

Mazzy Star is a drug for me.

Simple things, like “Into Dust” playing on an episode of The O.C., or an overcast day, or a particularly dark depressive episode send me reeling into the arms of Hope Sandoval’s spell-binding near-whisper: a narcotic, a salve.

Years ago, after miraculously discovering that there was much more to Mazzy Star than the (admittedly ethereal and lilting) “Fade into You” while holed up in a remote Washington cabin alongside a group of peculiar strangers and a then-new but ultimately doomed love, I was hooked.

In many the years after, my returns to Mazzy Star were often alarming. I might think, “Am I blue today or is this depression” as I loop So Tonight That I Might See for days, or “Blue Light” might be providing a soundtrack while I’m disassociating on a dark street during an endless January. It took me a long time to recognize repeated Mazzy Star indicated trouble; perhaps some distant part of myself used it as an alert.

Eventually, though, I decided to give up Mazzy Star as a depressant. But I couldn’t give them up completely, couldn’t stand the thought of a life without some occasional Hope Sandoval.

Enter “Flowers in December.”

I’d heard “Flowers in December” a thousand times, though Among my Swan wasn’t usually my go-to, but one day my brain wouldn’t stop playing it, so I turned it on. By then I was wary of my desire for Mazzy Star so I paid particular attention to my reaction. It’s a sad song, full of yearning and regret, but somehow I found joy rather than darkness.

I’m happy to report that these days I only use Mazzy Star for an occasional dose of cathartic blues. On this chilly fall day, for instance, though I have no personal struggles wearing me down, no sadness lurking in the shadows, I’m listening to “Flowers in December” and the rest of my Mazzy Star faves, partaking responsibly in a small dose of vicarious sorrow — a clean despondency, if you will.

(Song recommendation by Emery Ross)

Alma Recommends: “Someone You Loved” by Lewis Capaldi


I used to collect songs. Every time I came across a new one —  on the radio, at a club, coffee shop or store —  I would get the name, bookmark it and keep it. This collection was my modern version of a mixtape: a list of links I would send to him, the one who had captured my mind, body and soul, day after day, with all the stories I had for him, heartfelt expressed through the lyrics.

Sometimes the moment wasn’t right. Maybe I was pondering a new thought or feeling. Or perhaps we were having a sour patch in our friendship, so I wasn’t quite ready to share the song and as such would patiently wait for the time to be right. But most times, the songs were fun, deep, twisted or exciting, or all of the above. And all in all, music was my conduit to say what I felt I needed to say, and for us to enjoy a moment of deep connection.

One day I shared a short poem I found on social media. It was very short by powerful, and metaphorically spoke of how songs can come alive, and either free or cage you, move or paralyze you, help you hide behind the melody or make you confront your truth with their lyrics. He responded with a song that perfectly illustrated that which said:

“I assure you those fools will never understand
that if we are unfaithful, it’s for a great love.”

 

It was one of the first times he admitted his feelings for me, and while I felt free, I was also paralyzed, trying to hide behind that beautiful song, but confronted with a truth I did not want to see.

Our kind of love was never meant to be a part of what we did. Our relationship was meant to be the best friendship one can hope for. Throughout the months we spent talking, we supported and listened to one another’s stories, hopes, fears. We shared knowledge, learned from each other, and celebrated growth in our individual journeys.

Our kind of love was never meant to be a part of what we did. It was meant to be an ear that would listen, a mouth that would give advice and eyes that would help the other see. It was meant to provide that “someone to know and to turn to” with our unique ways.

Our kind of love was never meant to be a part of what we did. Even in our moments together that left room for mischievous looks, accomplice smiles, and flirtatious conversations, our love was always meant to remain innocent.

Our kind of love was supposed to be a manifestation of our essence in a safe way. A release of our true spirits, a way to tap into our deep instincts and enrich our experiences without risk. Lewis Capaldi’s song “Someone You Loved” explains it beautifully:

[…] somebody to heal
Somebody to know
Somebody to have
Somebody to hold

 

He became somebody that helped me heal. I let my guard down, and he became somebody to know that knew the depths of me and shared his in return. He became somebody to have around not to feel lost or scared when our vulnerability was raw, and who could feel the same way as well. He became someone with whom I could share those levels of intimate knowledge of who I am, and somebody to hold and be held by spiritually.

I guess I kinda liked the way you numbed all the pain
I guess I kinda liked the way you helped me escape
I was getting kinda used to being someone you loved.

 

But emotionally charged days and nights of conversation shaped a love that was not supposed to be instead. A love that the masses would not condone. And the turmoil created carved wounds in our hearts and souls, shattering our friendship and keeping us apart. Those wounds are still open and bleeding in my case because I was getting kind of used to being someone he loved.

Now the day bleeds
Into nightfall
And you’re not here
To get me through it all
I let my guard down
And then you pulled the rug

 

The truth is that it is tough to live without the companionship, the laughter, the understanding, the compassion and, yes, the love and all he gave me. It was very easy to get used to it all, and very hard to accept that I am someone he can’t love no matter how much he wants to.

And I tend to close my eyes when it hurts sometimes
I fall into your arms
I’ll be safe in your sound till I come back around

 

I dream day and night about being able to rescue the friendship we once had. But I realize that the wrong kind of love sometimes causes tremendous harm and imprints wounds that exist beyond repair.

“Someone Your Loved”, Lewis Capaldi on YouTube

(Song recommendation by Alma Awakened)


Follow me on
Twitter for more thoughts, poetry and my writing journey

Juliette Recommends: “Forget Domani” by Frank Sinatra

Image via Amazon

Growing up, I spent a lot of time with my grandparents. Some of my favourite memories include car rides with them. We didn’t need to be going somewhere special to have a good time — the trip itself was inherently special.

Pop had a collection of cassette tapes, which he’s slowly converted to CDs (and, most recently, records because “vinyl is back”), almost entirely made up of “oldies, but goodies.” There were some showtunes, which I’m sure attributed to my theatre phase and long-standing love of Broadway. There were tapes recorded from the radio, something that just overlapped with my own childhood, and his favourite, The Beatles. But my personal favourite was a tape of Frank Sinatra hits.

Unlike many, I didn’t fall in love with Ol’ Blue Eyes through “My Way” or “Fly Me to the Moon.’ It was this album in particular that cast the Sinatra spell — his ’68 Greatest Hits. Even now, these are some of my favourites: “Strangers in the Night,” “Somethin’ Stupid’ (with Nancy Sinatra), “Tell Her (You Love Her Each Day)” and, my most favourite of all, “Forget Domani.”

Even as a kid, I was perpetually anxious. Anyone who knows me now knows that that is still the case. I think something in this song’s promise of forgetting those worries, ignoring the inevitable movement of time. and the concerns that come with it, drew me in just as much as Frank’s enthralling voice. I’m sure the song’s Italian additions (“ah, che luna, oh che mare….”) played a part in my existing love for songs in other or multiple languages (though there’s now a lot more Shakira involved).

“I get so dizzy when you’re standing near,
It’s not the music that you hear,
My heart is beating like a jungle drum.
Let’s take the minutes as they speed away
And hope it’s true what people say:
When you’re in love, tomorrow never comes.”

To some degree, I think I’ve spent the years since those childhood car rides searching for just that, the sort of all-enncompassing romance that makes you forget about everything else, even if just for a little while. Is Frank Sinatra to blame for my being a hopeless romantic? Quite possibly.

I’ve learnt more Sinatra songs as time’s gone on, but this album holds a special place in my heart (and, likely, a few more song recommendations). I’ve since heard other versions of “Forget Domani” (if you haven’t heard the Connie Francis or Perry Como versions, do yourself a favour and check them out as well), but Frank’s is still my favourite. And still, when my worries get especially bad, I’ll sometimes find myself singing, “Oh, let’s forget about tommorrow….”

(Song recommendation by Juliette Sebock)

Venus Recommends: “Another Lifetime” by Nao

I know how to make mistakes
Wasn’t grown enough to fake them
Everybody makes mistakes
Do we live and learn to brave them?

One of my coworkers let me listen to some songs by Nao in the middle of a hectic shift in the drive-thru. I don’t remember what songs she played and I don’t remember even being able to hear them at the time. Two months ago, I was looking for songs to listen to in the midst of my breakup with a boy that didn’t know what he wanted. My friend played me Nao’s Saturn album as we drove around, reaching the highest peaks of my negative emotions and feeling high in other ways.

At first, I couldn’t tell the difference between Nao’s high voice and the low bass. As I came back down to planet earth, I was able to hear what she was saying more clearly. To me, I was like, “Wow. I do miss him even though we weren’t right for each other in this lifetime. I will wait another lifetime for him if that’s what it comes to. If he can’t see that we were perfect together, I’ll wait another lifetime and even then, I’ll keep waiting.” I interpreted Nao’s lyrics about her own personal growth and struggle regarding her Saturn Return, into something that someone filled with insecurities and doubts would think. I was that insecure doubtful person. I wanted to fit myself into the mold of the perfect girlfriend who would wait and wait and wait and, like a manic pixie dream girl, change his life when he needed me the most.

Now, I hear this song for what it is to me — a piece of time. This song means so much to me, mostly because I cried to it about seventy-five times while I was dealing with this breakup. It also means a lot to me because here I am, looking back on this relationship that ended without closure, and I don’t feel a thing. Here I am, listening to the song that pulled me through that hard time and all I feel is strength. I feel unbreakable. I have been through some terrible terrible relationships and I’ve lost more than I’ve won in love. Though, I’d rather wait another lifetime for true love than wait around for someone to let me fix them.

I hope this song makes you feel strong.

(Song recommendation by Venus Davis)