Hanukkah is over, and we’re only days away from Christmas, y’all. Are we ready for 2018? Are we motivated to change–on a personal level?
This time of year is typically gassed up with promises, resolutions, and a general whelming sense of Becoming Anew lingering in the air. It’s exciting, but as we all know, many lose that grip not too far into the new year and, just, Remain Existing.
The letter today is written by my pal Liz, who also happens to be from Florida (every person I know from Florida is cool as hell; on the contrary, everything I’ve heard about Florida Man….), though we bonded shortly after (or around?) her relocating to Seattle a handful of years ago. Since then, our conversations are usually shared involving music and pop culture.
Today Liz has been kind enough to share a playlist of songs that motivated her to get out of a slump and into a meaningful career path. It’s so easy to slack on the effort for change, but Liz has shown not all hope is lost! Today, she has a kick ass job she takes much pleasure going to every day, and the secrets she learned from the power of a music playlist are remarkable.
Lucky for us, all of those secrets to success are revealed below.
How My Hopeful Playlist Landed Me a New Job (And Parachutes Got Me Out of a Bad Job)
[Before we begin, click here to put on the playlist to set the mood]
In setting out to write about music in 2017, I completely failed. Most of the songs on the playlist I'm about to share are from late 2015 at best. But when our dear cmd+f hostess with the mostess reached out to me about writing something, she phrased it as "how music helped you find some joy in 2017." Now that I had a definite answer for: music got me a new job in 2017.
The beginning of 2017 was maybe not the best time to take on a big new personal project. Everything felt fucking bleak. But the only thing that got me through the previously bleakest period, the end of 2016, was planning how I was going to get a new job in 2017. Not just a new job, but a new career path, all while trying not to zombify myself at my workplace I hated.
This is basically a millennial trope at this point, stumbling into jobs that paid bills without ever really meaning to be there, maybe advancing steadily but mostly because it's the next step in front of you rather than the direction you want. As such, we've all developed coping mechanisms: Instagram accounts with cute dogs, Pinterest boards filled with inspirational messages in happy loopy calligraphy, lifehack podcasts, Lin Manuel Miranda's life coaching via Twitter–which are all basically bite-sized updates to self-help books and posters with kittens telling you to "Hang in There."
But for me at least, it's too easy for bossy logic brain to read those tweets and get in my own way without a drop of inspiration. If you go to the replies, you already see people ready with all the reasons that It Just Doesn't Work. And they've all got points, but sometimes you've got to set aside reality, suspend the disbelief, and psych yourself up into believing you can and you will. So I had to find a way to circumvent logic and it turns out my singing is louder than my logic.
Affirmations that would have my eyes rolling back into my head any other time make me feel alive when sung, even when just in my head and even more so surrounded by a crowd all singing along. The idea for a specific playlist to turn to in dark moments was planted in my head in an online Life Skills class in high school that had us choose a theme song. Mine was “Short Skirt / Long Jacket” by Cake (okay, just because I didn't want to be trapped in the accounting department of a geriatric law firm doesn't mean I'm not intensely Type A). “Can't Hold Us” by Macklemore got me through the preparations for a cross-country move (to Seattle, so I have a defense for that choice).
My playlist I made at the beginning of 2017 became more than just a quick pick-me-up though; it was a daily routine. It got me through my walk to work every morning, where I would find the self belief to write another contact email (LinkedIn, man) or research another master's program, any way I could think of to invest in myself without leaving my job.
I give 100% of the credit of the creation of this iteration of this playlist to “Dreams Come True” by Brandon Flowers. The 80's aesthetic of the whole The Desired Effect album made me feel hopeful in a way only a John Hughes movie can, but the horns on this song are pure sunshine for me. Actually, you're going to notice horns on a lot of these; I have a type.
“Ain't Got Far to Go” by Jess Glynne is my personal training montage song. It's not a triumphant cry at the top of the mountain, but for right when you've turned the corner, you've set a goal and can see it, far in the distance but as a real physical thing. Even on the rainiest Seattle walk, I wanted to sing along. I didn't because: a) don't be that guy and b) have you heard Jess Glynne's range?
“So Close” by Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness was a song that came to me at just the right time. I was salivating for the new album that came out in February (look, a 2017 song!) after hearing “Fire Escape” live over the summer. At first, I was just latched to the crazy danceable synths of the chorus but the messaging over and over that Scared is Good, "there's no safety in desire" helped with each sending of an email or resume.
Honestly, if you need a positivity boost, just go to an Andrew McMahon show and be in his presence, which is easy enough when it feels like he's touring most of the year every friggin' year. He radiates good energy and has no fear. I mean, who runs into a crowd of strangers under a rainbow tent and let them carry him aloft an inflatable duck? Someone who kicked cancer's ass and lived to sing the tale, I guess.
I'm not going to list each song here but the themes remain the same, do the fucking thing (“Do It Anyway” - Ben Folds Five), don't live in the past (“Spotlight” - Patrick Stump), and keep pushing (well, “Pushing On” - Oliver $ & Jimi Jules). There's more downbeat songs, like “Keeping Your Head Up” by Birdy, who was brought to my attention by cmd+f, but more on sadness in a bit. Also, I continued adding to it throughout 2017, because in this gig economy, one position isn't enough and never stop making connections, not if you're going to be the boss, The Man (The Killers), and the Woman (Kesha). And no judging my X-Factor and Eurovision additions, if you've gotten this far without judging the rest at least.
That was all great for the beginning of the day, all the possibilities still ahead of me. The walk home had a bit of a different process. I needed not just an influx of positive messaging but someone to help me affirm my dissatisfaction with my life, that I was right to be unhappy, that I wasn't this person in this cube wasting away. I didn't need a whole playlist for this, just one album: Parachutes from Frank Iero and the Patience.
These songs helped connect my teenage-like angst ("No one's ever been like me before") with where I was as an adult ("So tired of being old and feeling cold and numb"). I started feeling like myself again, and that not fitting in where I was wasn't the equivalent of being an overdramatic outcast. And it helped me accept all those positive messages too. Being a naysayer feels a lot less cool when singing "Let's all be difficult and never try too hard, Let's all be critical of those who show their heart" along with Frank's sarcastic sneer.
The biggest impact of some of these artists in 2017 for me was carrying it forward and seeing them live. Whatever you get from singing the song by yourself, in your head, it's amplified 1000% when hearing it from every direction, pressed against a bunch of strangers who it all meant as much to, each in their own way. It's a good thing my new job is flexible on work hours (even if it pays less, non-profit arts life, y'all!) because that is an addictive feeling that I've been chasing down all year. Hopefully, that's what will get me through 2018 too, or some miracle that makes things a little less bleak like a working government.
Otherwise, if I had to write about music specifically released in 2017, you would have gotten 5000 words about why Everything Now from Arcade Fire was unfairly trashed and is actually amazing.
... Maybe some opinions are best left to yourself.
“Songs for a new life” Playlist | click here to listen
- “Dreams Come True” - Brandon Flowers
- “Ain’t Got Far To Go” - Jess Glynne
- “So Close” - Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness
- “Do It Anyway” - Ben Folds Five
- “Anything” - Hedley
- “I Can Do Anything” - 3OH!3
- “Keep On Keeping On” (feat. Brendon Urie) - Travie McCoy
- “Spotlight (New Regrets)” - Patrick Stump
- “Whatever It Takes” - Imagine Dragons
- “Pushing On” - Oliver $ & Jimi Jules
- “On My Way” - Tiesto w/ Bright Sparks
- “Rise N Shine” - Eva Shaw, Poo Bear
- “No Matter What” - Little Monarch
- “Keeping Your Head Up” - Birdy
- “Don't Tread on Me” - Kai Straw
- “Rut” - The Killers
- “I Woke Up In A Car “- Something Corporate
- “Lines That Burn” - Tilian
- “Work This Body” - WALK THE MOON
- “The Man” - The Killers
- “Woman” - Kesha
- “Hurricane” - MisterWives
- “All the Way Up” - Reggie N Bollie, 2Face Idibia
- “Yodel It!” - Ilinca, Alex Florea
- “Short Skirt / Long Jacket” - Cake
- “We're Gonna Take On The World” - Mustard Plug
You can find Liz swimming through the net on Twitter: @sportiefish
Raise a glass: day 9 of the cmd+vent calendar drops TOMORROW! Tell all your friends!