Some time in July and somewhere between the mountains of Asheville, North Carolina, and the beaches of Wilmington, North Carolina, we had the windows down while we took turns putting on songs we could shout the lyrics to. Two hours after we’d passed the only serif road sign in the state, and thirty minutes outside of South of the Border, I turned the music down.
“I think you’d like this.” I put on “Nellie” by Dr. Dog, asked Snail (not my sibling’s birth name, but it has since become the only name that matters) if they’d ever heard the band. No, they replied, and I turned the song back up. The song kicks off with a one, two, a one, two, three, four, a banging of a single drum before a tambourine, guitar, bass, and lyricist all come crashing in.
After the first, second, or maybe third listen, Snail had all of the words down, and “Nellie” had earned a place on our AVL 07.09.19 playlist. July was the first month that I was a premium Spotify user. Two months after I graduated from college, still working my college job, Spotify was the first thing that I knew I wanted to spend money on every month (other than insulin, food, and, eventually, rent).
The rest of the summer was full of uncertainty and heartbreak unlike I’d never felt. Breakups with quasi-partners delivered over eggs Benedict, my little sister crying on FaceTime from hours away, leaving me feeling helpless and confused, Snail moving into college not so far from the mountains where we started that July morning, and writers block so bad that I thought I’d left all my words in undergrad; that my BFA degree and the 27 words printed on it were all that remained of my logopihilia. I spent the remainder of the summer in too-dark rooms on too-bright days, making playlists with dramatic titles (Love in the Time of Melancholy; House Wine; For You, Whomever You Might Be), and, evidently, as my Spotify Wrapped suggests, listening to “Nellie” far too much.
Even now, in December, the time of minute-long days, five months after my love affair with “Nellie”, I can’t bring myself to skip it when it comes up. It brings me to a place in my mind where I am happy, even if it seems far away, through a kaleidoscope of dull colors and dreary days.
(Song recommendation by Leandra Lee)