Arts, iEdit

iEdit: Erin Flaherty’s Foggy Journey of Self-Reflection

Fog steams off the reservoir with a flick as I descend, snug in the anonymity of the mist. This is not our reservoir, though, not the one below the Heights. The setting is similar: gravel path, stoney coast, perhaps a few more trees, but an element of unfamiliarity lingers in the air. This is untrodden ground.

This is the world I found myself in as I journeyed into the mind of The Heights’ Editor-in-Chief Erin Flaherty via her meticulously selected playlist. Each bend throughout the track leads me further along this path, evincing a new detail with each new theme. 

One thing is immediately apparent: Nothing is certain amid the fog.

The opening needle drop sets the mood. The Essex Green splashes color onto the scene with an airy flute and soft percussion in “Mrs. Bean” (a subtle nod by Erin, our green queen). In a warm voice, the lyrics spark reflection on how we place other people as important in our lives. The song’s description of motherly love reminds me of Erin, our one-and-only Heights mom. 

Lil Yachty then turns up the dial with “drive ME crazy!” The track also stirs reflection of our dependence on others, picking up the theme from “Mrs. Bean.” 

Addressing the female singer, a man confesses, “Imagine me / Circling through life without a piece of you / Seven out of seven days I’m needin’ you.” 

This is another face of love, but love incurs dependence nonetheless. The end of the track turns the narrative as a new voice drops into an uncertain vindication of himself and his life. It’s unclear to whom he is justifying himself, but he introduces an element of hesitation to the narrative that will linger.

These first two songs are just small allusions to the story Erin is telling, a story which strikes up in full force with “Not Strong Enough” by boygenius.

Uniting the themes of dependent love and uncertainty in oneself with melancholy for both youth and security, Erin welcomes the listener into her self-doubt. 

With lyrics like “I don’t know why I am the way I am” and “Spinning out about things that haven’t happened,” the song echoes the classic laments of young adulthood. We, as young adults, can no longer return to the security and familiarity of adolescence, nor have we been able to build a new sanctuary. 

We exist in limbo, not quite sure if “home” exists anymore. We are walking alone in a shroud along a path that is eerily unfamiliar.

Erin then begins to reclaim confidence and control of the narrative with “Waltz (Better Than Fine)” by Fiona Apple. This melody smoothly transforms Erin’s uncertainty into something beautiful. 

“If you don’t have a song to sing, you’re okay / You know how to get along, humming,” Apple sings.

Uncertainty does not equal weakness or waste. There is beauty in simply “being so kind.”

“Direct Address” by Lucy Dacus returns us to the theme of love, but this time as a lamentation on love lost. Although the song begins with abandonment, Dacus is not bemoaning her lover who walks away. Instead, she laments being childishly tricked into believing in a destined love: “love at first sight.” 

Despite this grief, in the end she admits she cannot—nor does she actually want to—stop seeking love, as she sings intimately about a dark stranger who lingers in her dreams. Erin, it seems, shares the struggle of the singer and does not want to give up on the dream of love just yet.

Next up, Erin treats us to a classic soulful turn with “Valerie” by the iconic Amy Winehouse. Just as the song is a breath of crisp, cool air, I will not belabor you with over-the-top psychoanalysis. This is just a beautiful song.

Seven has forever been an intensely meaningful number, so it comes as no surprise that the seventh song on Erin’s track is a meaningful culmination of this. I also like to think Erin selected it specifically for me, knowing I am such a fan of Piano Man. We come now to “Summer, Highland Falls” by Billy Joel.

This song truly has it all: nostalgia for better times that never were, fantasies for a future that can never be realized, and the inevitability that everything is “either sadness or euphoria.” 

Throughout this journey, Erin has brought us through reflective meditation, melancholy, and the contradictions of love, always unsure of answers and where we were going. This track’s melody is Erin’s testament to the journey. This is her response to it all. 

To get into details would be to violate the beauty of Mr. Joel’s song, so all I will say is: pick up, and listen.

Erin finishes off our journey with three flourishes, beginning with the grand jeté in “That’s Where I Am” by Maggie Rogers.

Confidence gained and conclusions reached, Erin breaks out of the cool, soft mold she had lulled us into with a jolting opening. It is Erin’s rebirth of vigor.

The lyrics are a direct response to “Direct Address” and the themes of lost and dependent love. Erin reaffirms her belief in destined love as the narrator sings to the inevitability of her lover coming back to her.

Erin’s penultimate flourish, “The Path” by Lorde, returns to foggy meditation. The difference now is that she finds confidence in accepting our brokenness. 

“Cause we are all broken and sad / Where are the dreams we all had?” Lorde sings.

For the grand finale, Erin revives us with David Bowie’s classic “Starman.” This playlist has been a long journey of self-reflection, but the Starman lifts us out of ourselves. Erin reminds us we are united in our longings, our dreams, and that at the end of the day, all we want to do is boogie.

April 18, 2024