It is no surprise, based on listening to assistant magazine editor Erin Flaherty’s playlist, that her favorite season is fall. Striking a balance between confident and wistful, Erin’s playlist is the perfect soundtrack to a season characterized by both beauty and melancholy.
I began listening to the playlist after leaving Bapst Library one afternoon, and it kicked off with the jaunty beat of Taylor Swift’s “the 1.” Like many Heights board members, Erin seems to have recognized that any playlist is incomplete without a Swift song. The easygoing rhythm paired with the mildly heartache-inducing lyrics provides the perfect autumnal ambiance for a walk across campus.
“Too Late” by The Happy Fits peps up Swift’s daydreaming-yet-confident energy. This indie song gave me an instant serotonin boost and made me nostalgic for the happy-go-lucky days of summer. But “Golden” by Hippo Campus, with its more mellow energy, grounded me back in the present season.
Not only does the next segment of Erin’s playlist lend a symbolic soundtrack to her transition from high school to college, but it also gives insight into the emotional roller coaster of midterm season.
Listening to Mac Miller’s “Senior Skip Day,” I immediately understood Erin’s midterm mentality. Fall marks the beginning of burnout season. Like Erin, I have been toggling back and forth between feeling burnt out and feeling motivated. Listening to this song, I felt seen.
Billy Joel, another fan favorite in the Heights newsroom, creates a defiant aura with his song “Movin’ Out (Anthony’s Song).” Phoebe Bridgers’ “Graceland Too,” balances out this more angsty, upbeat energy with a chill vibe, grounding the playlist with its empowering and determined lyrics.
The move from “Silk Chiffon” by MUNA and Phoebe Bridgers to “Night Shift” by Lucy Dacus follows the same pattern. The lyrics “Life’s so fun, life’s so fun,” will be stuck in your head for the rest of the day and provide a good reminder—whether serious or sarcastic—that there is always something to look forward to after a tough midterm week.
The final two songs round out Erin’s playlist beautifully and reflect a superb taste in music. “Dreams” by Fleetwood Mac is followed by “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road” by Elton John. This pairing not only encapsulates the farewell to summer that fall often brings, but it puts me in a pensive state of mind. Listening to these two songs made me want to curl up inside with a warm cup of tea and reflect on life.
With the continuous dichotomy between upbeat and mellow, melancholy and resilient, Erin captured the simultaneous nostalgia and beauty of the season. The effortlessly cool combination of indie tracks and golden oldies gave me a laid back sort of confidence as I walked across campus, something that I always associate with Erin.
Erin’s superhuman candor when talking about midterm stress with a sense of humor and strength is a balance not many people can replicate. Her playlist captures that energy and instantly makes the listener feel like they can calmly accomplish anything.