Nicole Recommends: “The Morning of Our Lives” by Jonathan Richman and the Modern Lovers

It started with Eleanor and Park.

Rainbow Rowell’s YA masterpiece changed my life in a lot of ways. It started my obsession with Rowell’s books. It became the standard against which my bestie and I compared other romance-fueled YA novels. And finally, it eventually led to me hearing this amazing song.

For those not in the know, when Rowell is writing a book, she creates a playlist that fits the major themes and beats she hopes to tell. And, because she’s a beautiful gem of a human being, she shares the playlists with the public.

OF COURSE I had to start with the E&P playlists, of which there are five: Sides A and B for each main character (do I really need to explain who they are?) and then a general soundtrack. My favorite playlist, indicative of where my heart lies within the book, is Park Side A. While there are so many amazing hits on this playlist, many of which I’d never heard before, the song that sticks out to me is “The Morning of Our Lives.”

I. Love. This. Song.

It’s so perfectly sweet and it hits at one of the core concepts of the book: trying to get the insecure person you love to realize how amazing they are, all the way telling them that it’s okay that they feel like shit right now. This song hits me where I live because, lyrically, it feels like something my husband would want to say to me—and actually does say fairly regularly. “It hurts me, dear, to see that you have no faith in yourself. You’re not as bad as you think. You’re always putting yourself down, but I just wanna tell you that I like you.”

But even beyond the lyrics, it’s the actual music that helps elevate this song’s sweetness. Plucked from the compilation album Roadrunner: The Beserkley Collection, the song is a live recording that features the audience clapping along, which is always fun for me. And just the general construction of the song—the simple guitar and bass lines, the call-and-response between the lead singer and his bandmates, the feel that this song was just pulled together at the last second to produce something pure—says to me, “Hey. You’re going to be okay.”

Much like the entirety of Park Side A, this song lifts my mood instantly, and I will never stop 1) putting it on my own playlists and 2) trying to force it on new listeners.

Congratulations. You’ve now entered the fold, where “we can do anything we believe in.”

(Song recommendation by N. Alysha Lewis)

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