Love Letters to Boston: A Homesick Playlist

This school year ended, in the words of T. S. Eliot, “not with a bang, but a whimper.” Like most of you, I’m studying for my finals in my childhood bedroom instead of the Boston Public Library. Instead of camping out at Starbucks or Caffè Nero for a change of scenery, my only option is sitting at the kitchen counter with the droning hum of the Keurig in the background. 

It still feels strange to write a typical “Love Letters to Boston” installment. Even though I’m not originally from the city, being away has me feeling a little homesick. And that makes sense—so many of us have built homes for ourselves at college, and it’s sad to be away from that for an uncertain amount of time.

Yes, if you have your health and a place to live and financial stability at the moment, you’re one of the lucky ones, and it is important to remember that. However, it’s also okay to let yourself be sad about the things you’ve lost recently without comparing the struggles you are facing to those of others. I have a hard time wrapping my head around that concept sometimes, but I’m trying to be kinder to myself about it because that’s all I can really ask of myself at the moment. 

So yes, I miss Boston like crazy. Coming from the girl who has an entire column dedicated to the city? Not a surprise. The good news is, along with developing my affinity for strange Boston fun facts and history, I’ve also spent a good amount of my college career perfecting my Spotify playlists, and I have a great one for when you miss Boston.

This playlist always soothes the homesickness-induced ache in my chest at least just a little, but it’s also quite an eclectic collection of tunes. We’ve got your classics, like “Boston” by Augustana, and “Sweet Caroline” by Neil Diamond, but there are also some less conventional picks, as well as some Boston deep-cuts, if you will.

“Mess” by Noah Kahan is probably my favorite song on the playlist. It fits the mood I’m usually in when I need this playlist, and the line, “I’ll take 89 to Boston” is a nice nod to the city. 

However, if you’re shuffling the playlist, it could go from Kahan’s earnest ballad to “M.T.A.” as performed by The Kingston Trio. This upbeat folk song had to be included. If you haven’t read my love letter to CharlieCards, you can find it here for a more in-depth explanation of how iconic this song is. It’s old and upbeat and folksy and a little strange, but it’s so ingrained in Boston lore that it had to make the playlist.

I’d also like to give an honorable mention to “I Love My City” by Ernest K. It was the only other song besides the Cheers theme and “Sweet Caroline” that didn’t mention Boston or a related area by name, but it definitely held a special meaning. Although it doesn’t matter now because it’s no longer on Spotify, “I Love My City” was Mookie Betts’s walk-up song. You know, before the Red Sox ripped my heart out by trading him to the LA Dodgers. It’s fine. I’m fine.

Overall, the playlist is quite a rollercoaster, but the common thread of Boston (or the GBA, in the case of Clairo’s “Alewife”) holds it together. You can find it here or below if you want to give it a listen.

As we head into the summer, hopefully this playlist can hold you over until we can be back in Boston again. Happy listening!

 

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