Opinions, Column

The Music in My Mind

Almost every day of the week, I wake up with a song in my head. Nothing prompts this phenomenon—it just happens, and it paints a picture of how my day will likely pan out. Very frequently, this song’s artist is none other than the greatest musician of our generation: Taylor Swift. Other times, it varies from the chill R&B/soul bops of SZA all the way to the musical manifestations of trail mix and backwoods that are Noah Kahan’s folk tunes.

Some days, however, I decide to choose my “daily” song or album based on external influences, from the weather to the season to my constant state of sleep deprivation. This helps me feel more in touch with my emotions and the vibes that a particular day radiates.

Once each day is over, I go through all of the music I listened to and decide on the song that best epitomizes how I felt that day or the one most stuck in my head. I then add this song to my “Song of the Day” playlist, a system I would strongly recommend to anyone who absorbs as much music as I do from a diverse selection of genres. 

Let’s say you take my advice and make your Song of the Day playlist. At the end of the year, you will have compiled a list of 365 songs that defined a whole year of your life. You can look back fondly (or maybe not) on pivotal moments as you listen to your painstakingly selected joyful pop beats or seasonal depression anthems.

I’d like to proudly say I have more or less mastered choosing which music to listen to day-to-day. To provide a little insight into this careful art, here is a sample of some selections I’ve made recently:

I’ve added plenty of songs from Taylor Swift’s 1989 as it happens to be my favorite album of all time. A bible of modern pop music, this album fills me with insane levels of serotonin and simply makes all of the worst days better.

I’ve contributed many tracks from SZA’s SOS—it is one of the greatest albums I have ever heard. Whenever I want to be transported to a scenic, picturesque, empty city at midnight or simply just want to sit on my couch and chill, this album has me feeling euphoric.

Noah Kahan’s Stick Season and Taylor Swift’s Red are also in the mix, as we are currently in the season of autumn (a.k.a. the season of the sticks).

Rounding out this list, Katy Perry’s Teenage Dream is another frequent on my playlist, as this album “introduced” me to music. This was the first CD my parents ever bought for me in 2010. They played it during every car ride, and it provides me with an immense rush of nostalgia every time I hear it now. It also makes me question my parents’ decision to let me flip through the lyric booklet for this album at the ripe age of 7—as it featured a naked Katy laying on a cotton candy cloud. 

To constantly be in a state of musical immersion, my AirPods are always in my ears blasting sonic emotion wherever I go. If you ever come across me in the wild, there is a good chance I will be lip-syncing and jamming out to whatever melody is slowly deteriorating my hearing. 

If it was not already obvious, music is one of the most powerful forces in my life. I love the relatability and comfortability of my favorite artists, yet I am thrilled whenever I discover a new artist whose music satisfies my eardrums and becomes the newest addition to my current rolodex of songs. Moreover, music seems to have this unique ability to not only help me understand myself and the world around me, but also to ground myself and to heal. Musical therapy is real, and it has been a stand-out support system for handling even the strongest of emotions.

So spend some time fostering your own musical journeys. Make a Song of the Day playlist to relive life’s musical moments. Take in the lyrics as if you are the protagonist going on your own three-minute-long adventure. And of course, listen to the music in your mind, as it is wildly unpredictable where it will send you next.

October 29, 2023