By Brooke Jackson-Glidden, Features Editor
Choosing twenty or so “favorite” songs almost feels like unusual punishment. So, instead, I gave myself a new task: Make myself into a playlist.
The result is an odd combination of Motown, contemporary indie rock, classic folk and of course, a splash of funk. The songs themselves have little to nothing to do with one another. But each of them represents certain parts of my past: people, moments and facets of who I’ve become (for better or for worse).
I grew up with Aretha Franklin and Etta James. My mother, a second-wave feminist with a profound love of belting black female soul artists, had Lady Soul and Miss Peaches on in the house 24/7 in the early days. “RESPECT” in the morning and “At Last” at night. Etta was there for my first crush with “Something’s Got A Hold on Me,” and Aretha was there after my first breakup with “Ain’t No Way.” Even now, “Ain’t No Way” stops me cold, not only because she has a ridiculous set of pipes, but because she emotes vocally unlike anyone on the planet… except for maybe Etta James.
My love for Bob Dylan came from my father. Like Dylan, he encouraged me to pay attention to the world around me and find interesting ways to express what I observed. Both men showed me how much I could change over my life, and how predictability, in certain ways, was overrated.
I’m far too young to be nostalgic, but certain songs are on this playlist because they evoke memories I’m scared to lose. “Maybe This Time” echoes through the brownstones on Commonwealth, my roommate and I singing Liza at the top of our lungs on Friday nights. “Ball and Biscuit” skips in my purple, spherical boom box, The White Stripes’ Elephant sitting in my lap: my first CD I purchased with my own money. The ridiculous Leslie Hall, in her gold spandex’d glory, dancing with my managing editor on a cold Cambridge night.
“Thirteen” and “Trouble” sound like being in love for the first time — as cheesy as that is to say, I can’t think of any other way to say it. “White Winter Hymnal” sounds like driving in northern Oregon and the smell of cold mornings hidden under pine trees. “The Dark of the Matinee” sounds like spontaneity and “Paper Hearts” sounds like pretention.
Songs haunt me like ghosts, but that doesn’t seem to be a bad thing. If I’m living in the past, thank God music is the way I get to do so.