The Best Playlist of All Time


Here is an account of the creation of the best playlist of all time.


Approximately one year ago, I was at my good friend Lindsey’s dorm room in ResCo getting ready for a pre-initiation activity at our sorority. At the time, some of our friends in the basketball band were in Memphis, Tennessee for the Big East Men’s Basketball Tournament. We were discussing this, and naturally had the desire to listen to Marc Cohn’s 1991 one-hit wonder, “Walking in Memphis.”

We typed the search terms into YouTube on Lindsey’s phone. We sat and listened intently, wondering if our friends were truly “walking with (their) feet ten feet off of Beale.”


Realizing this jam session was far from over, we looked to the side of the page at YouTube’s suggestions for the next video, and the three most serendipitously niche, yet iconic songs popped up:


“Fast Car” by Tracy Chapman,

“Tiny Dancer” by Elton John,

and “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” by Deep Blue Something.

It’s hard to explain what exactly makes this combination of songs so amazing. “Walking In Memphis” has very specific regional references and a heavy, emotional impact. “Fast Car” is beautifully melodramatic; there’s no reason why it should be such an easy-listening ear worm, but it is. “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” is the quintessential “I heard that in a restaurant once but can’t think of the name or the artist of the song. “Tiny Dancer” has one of the most iconic misheard lyrics of all time:

Each song has a particular charm and resonance with us. The fact that the four of them were grouped together was a miracle and created a warm, positive energy that cemented my friendship with Lindsey. It felt nostalgic and comfortable and like we were conscious of experiencing “the good old days” before they passed.


It sort of reminds me of why it’s difficult to explain what makes friendships so great. For sure, you can go on and on about what your friends do for you, but at the end of the day it comes down to the world you create together. Friendships and relationships aren’t a transaction or meticulously calculated. You can’t create them on your own, and you can’t force them. They just happen when two people respect each other and enjoy spending time together.


Throughout time, the playlist has added two more songs. While driving to Lindsey’s hometown of Nashville for fall break, we added “Free Fallin” by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers (the week after Tom Petty’s death). And recently I consulted Lindsey to add “Kiss From a Rose” by Seal. Just because.

It’s hard to explain why the songs fit together so well, why some songs are right for the playlist, and why some songs aren’t. It’s hard to explain how people stick together. There’s something essential and unconditional. It just feels right.