My friend Sami leaves for Costa Rica today and won't be back for 27 months. She is fulfilling my lifelong dream (okay, half of my life if we're being accurate) and joined the Peace Corps.
Last month, she asked me to make her a playlist. She had the most clever idea of asking 27 of her friends to make her a playlist, one for each month she would be gone. Of course I said yes. And then she told me she wanted my playlist to be the first one she listened to. Talk about pressure!
Well, I don't back down from a challenge. Some songs immediately jumped to mind. Others song I knew I'd have to dig a little deeper in myself.
I asked Sami if she minded if I posted the playlist on the blog. Because if I'm going to go to this effort, I feel others should be able to share in my toil. Sorta kidding. I've already given Sami a more personal breakdown of why I chose some songs, but below I've summarized the highlights of this playlist and included a URL to find the entire playlist on YouTube and/or Spotify. (I'm looking out for you all!)
There are also two songs that you can only find on YouTube at this point in life, so those get special call-outs.
Most of the songs I chose based either on lyrics, personal sentiment, or a balance of both. Actually, all of them have great lyrics. I truly choose to like some songs just because of what they’re saying, and all of these match that rule. So listen up and enjoy:
Otherwise known as Simon & Garfunkel’s “El Condor Pasa (If I Could)”
I discovered this song when I saw the movie “Wild” with Reese Witherspoon about Cheryl Strayed hiking the Pacific Crest Trail by herself. They played this song whenever Reese Witherspoon’s character (Cheryl) reflected on her past. I find both nostalgia and inspiration in the lyrics and consequently knew it was a mandatory song on the list. Also, the song's title is in Spanish and Costa Rica, so Adele is saying hello.
My Favorite Band
Otherwise known as The Head & the Heart’s “Down in the Valley”
In 2014, Spotify identified the Head & the Heart as my number one played artist in the spring, summer, and fall. Basically, they’re my favorite artist. I knew I needed to include one of their songs and ultimately have included one of their best known tunes. That shouldn’t cheapen its meaning.
First, some of the Head & the Heart’s band members hail from Richmond, so that’s one point. And the valley the song is referencing? It’s the Shenandoah Valley, which is where Sami and I went to undergrad (James Madison University).
Most Played Song in 2014
Otherwise known as Dawes’ “When My Time Comes”
While the Head & the Heart was my most played artist in 2014, this song was my most played. I found this song randomly, but it is the song I jive to with earbuds in and caffeine in my bloodstream as I walk to school. It’s an excellent anthem for starting your day.
My Life Anthem
Otherwise known as Imagine Dragons’ “I Bet My Life”
“I know I took the path that you would never want for me.”
That’s the opening of this song. While this song is just great for its beat, I particularly fell in love with it when I found out Imagine Dragons’ lead singer wrote this about his relationship with his parents. From Wikipedia:
"at times it's been strained and difficult... in the end, 'I Bet My Life' celebrates the bond that we still hold on to.”
Consequently, this is my anthem for when I think about joining the Peace Corps and living abroad. I know my parents don’t want that for me and think I’m foolhardy (read: irresponsible), but they will still love me (“and forgive me for all I’ve done”). This song is meant to motivate you to pursue and embrace the life you want. I assume your parents may have somewhat similar emotions seeing their daughter off, so I hope this song both energizes and motivates you to keep going and embrace the life you want. And while the audience may not cheer, they still love.
MY FAVORITE SONG
Otherwise known as Vance Joy’s “Riptide”
That’s all. This is my favorite song.
I actually don’t have the lyrics memorized, so I’m the one who’s gonna sing the words wrong, but I hope whenever you hear this song you see me sucking at karaoke, but jamming out. Because that is me.
Scream this song with me.
Otherwise known as Adele’s “Million Years Ago” (and not available on Spotify :o)
“I know I’m not the only one who regrets the things they’ve done, sometimes I just feel it’s only me who can't stand the reflection that they see.”
Be like Adele. Be strong. Realize everyone has insecurities. Embrace it.
Just, everything about this song.
I hope it brings you comfort in the lonely moments in the next 27 months.
Kodaline’s “High Hopes"
I remember the first time I found this song. It was a cold March morning in my first year of grad school. To be more specific, it was midterms week. And this song helped me get out of bed and get to class and through my midterms.
There’s sadness, inspiration, and whatever else you want to find. Savor it.
Lola Marsh’s “Sirens”
This is a haunting song by an Israeli band, and none of their band members is named Lola. But this is a haunting tune that sounds good at almost any time of day.
Otherwise known as Toto’s “Africa”
This song is more than just fun. When I apply to the Peace Corps in less than two years (cross your fingers, everyone!), I want to go to Africa. I don't have a specific reason; that's just where I've always wanted to end up. And my bedroom is decorated with an African theme. I call it to the "Safari Suite.")
So this song is, like, everything to me. I totally want to see the rain.
The Lumineers’ “Ophelia”
The Lumineers’ first album has a lot of memories for me for various reasons. This is the first song released off their new album, which doesn’t come out until April 8. So I can’t tell you how good the rest of the album will be, but this song makes me have hope. And overall, I think this song is a metaphor for you. I see a lot of promise and reward in your time in Costa Rica.
My Tunnel Song
Otherwise known as Tropical Punk’s “Stay With Me” (and never to be on Spotify)
As opposed to my favorite song (“Riptide”), this is my “tunnel song.” I’m assuming you’ve seen “The Perks of Being a Wallflower,” but if you haven’t, a tunnel song is the song that main character obsess over and find some otherworldly experience through.
An old crush gave me this song, I don't think she meant anything by it, but this song is what will always get me up on a dance floor. Except I’ve never heard this song on a dance floor. Or anywhere in public. Please share it with the Costa Ricans.
More people need to love this song. You should also listen to this song and see me singing into a spatula on a kitchen counter because that has actually happened with this song. (I may or may not have been drunk. Maybe.)
Anyhow, I hope this playlist both motivates and inspires and brings you some nostalgia and a lot more happiness. These are tunes that make for good background music as you see the world. But be sure to turn them down sometimes. Sometimes it's better to simply hear the sounds of the world.