“I’ve created a masterpiece,” Julia said, shoving her headphones into my ears as we sat in Stuart Dining Hall. “You literally cannot roast me for a single song I’ve chosen.”
I glanced at her laptop screen, initially taken aback by the rock and folk artists littered throughout the playlist. I’d known her as a Taylor Swift-loving girl from Kansas, proud of her own pop-country roots and likely a secret Shawn Mendes fan. Instead, I found a playlist full of classics—Bob Dylan and Johnny Cash, for instance—coupled with indie, new wave, folk, and, of course, angsty singer-songwriters.
The first few familiar notes of King Harvest’s “Dancing in the Moonlight” begin the 10-track journey, which weaves through the 1960s, the modern day, and the many decades in between.
King Princess’ “1950,” a lament over unrequited love, is followed by Bob Dylan and Johnny Cash’s softly strummed “Girl from the North Country.” The Lumineers’ tale of a lonely and aging “Cleopatra” precedes Cat Stevens’ thoughtful and brief “The Wind.” Julia’s subsequent inclusion of “Kansas City” by The Mowgli’s, which she admits pales in comparison to their 2012 hit “San Francisco,” exemplifies Julia’s inability to resist an opportunity to pay homage to her home city.
The playlist is one of storytelling—of Kansas City, of young women, and of sleepless nights in the suburbs. She’s not trying to create any particular “vibe,” but rather curating a collection of stories, one as much about herself as it is about those who actually wrote the songs.
Julia and I had plans to camp out on the balcony of Alumni House and watch the sunset when it finally got warm in the spring. But as I write this under a shelter-in-place order in California, Julia is 1,800 miles away in Kansas City.
Perhaps this playlist could have been useful on the rooftop of Alumni, gazing out over Newton Campus and the Duchesne hill. I don’t think we’ll ever find out. For now, I suppose I’ll watch the California sunset, waiting on next August and more song-worthy stories to come.