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Add This To Your Playlist: Week Four- A Walk in the Park

When I was first creating this playlist, I knew that the songs tied together somehow, but I wasn’t quite certain what that aspect was. Upon further reflection, I realized that these are all songs you can easily lose yourself in. Each one has a very distinct feeling and a specific image that I picture while listening to the song. This week, I thought I’d do something a little different and take all of you along with me on a journey of visualization.

Song One: “Ritual” by Wrabel

 

Imagine yourself in the streets of Manhattan, just on the edge of Central Park. As you pass by a crowd of bustling people, a smile forms on your face and you wave. A red-haired woman with her jack russell terrier passes by and returns your smile. The mid-day sun is shining in a relatively cloudless sky. It’s early fall and there’s a slight chill to the air.

 

This is what I see when I listen to this song. To me, visualizing my music is such a natural thing. It’s part of what makes me heavily associate music with stories and time periods in my own life. This song likely has this effect on me because of the positive feelings it evokes. While this song is simple and enjoyable, Wrabel also tackles heavier topics such as heartbreak in his single “11 Blocks” and gives his voice to the transgender rights movement in his song “The Village.”

 

“Ritual” follows the story of a man having fallen in love for the first time in a long time and feels saved by this newfound hope. In this song, Wrabel sings about how finding the right person can change one’s perceptions of love and how it changes the routine of one’s life. As he notes, “Instead of breaking my heart, you’re picking up all the pieces.” This suggests that past relationships have not been easy and have simply caused more pain than good. What he thought was love before, he now realizes dulls in comparison to what he has now. He refers to this new love as a “ritual,” meaning a religious ceremony consisting of routine steps. By connecting his love to faith like this, he shows how much he worships this experience in his life. He also tells his listeners that his new love “spins [him] around the color wheel,” constantly making him feel a broader spectrum of emotions than he ever thought was possible and providing him with an excitement and spontaneity that was absent from his life.

Song Two: “Lover’s Eyes” by Mumford & Sons

 

You’re walking alone in a park. Your surroundings are heavily forested. The only sounds you hear are the songbirds in the trees above and the crinkling of the browning pine needles beneath your boots. The trail you’re walking along is at a steady incline, and you can feel the air getting thinner as you ascend your way up the side of the mountain. You’re taking your time to analyze every aspect of the environment around you. You find peace in the quiet.

I think that whenever I listen to Mumford & Sons, I always picture myself in the woods, but this song especially brings out a sense of isolation and thoughtfulness. Mumford & Sons’ album Babel distinctly creates an atmosphere in its soft folk-rock sound.

 

The thing that strikes me about “Lover’s Eyes” is how truthful the song is to the feeling of being completely lost to oneself. The speaker refers to this love as something that was all-consuming and took too much out of him, even to the point in which he claims “I can’t see the others in my life.” He was prioritizing this relationship over any other relationships he may have had, whether they be friendships, familial relationships, or those pertaining to a work environment. He feels the curse of this other person haunting him in everything he does. He pleads with himself to “tame the ghosts in [his] head that run wild and wish [him] dead.” Losing the support of his lover resulted in a loss of self and formed a rage inside him that he can’t shake. This song is about trying to pull himself out of this dark place that he’s been confined in for too long.

Song Three: “Before Our Spring” by Jonghyun

 

This song begins as the light snowfall sticks to the ground of an empty park. You walk past a see-saw with one side piled up with snow. You rub your hands together against the cold and blow hot air into your cupped fingers to try to warm yourself. You pass a swing-set and a smile forms on your face as you consider taking a seat, reconnecting with your childhood innocence.

 

When I first heard this song, I actually heard the English cover version done by Shayne Orok. I fell in love with the lyrics and when I went to go search up the song, I realized that the original was in Korean, and I fell even more in love. This song for me evokes such a strong sense of longing through its easy melody and intricate lyrics. Jonghyun was a member and main vocalist of the KPop group SHINee, but unfortunately, after a long battle with mental illness, he took his life back in December of 2017. After his death, many fans banded together to create beautiful tributes to him in order to celebrate his life. While I regret not having known his work while he was still here, his music will forever be something immaculately beautiful.

 

“Before Our Spring” follows the story of someone who is afraid of their feelings. He doesn’t understand how to approach this other person, but at the same time he is afraid of losing this person too. He justifies his cowardice by saying “there’s still a lot of time before spring comes.” In other words, he feels as though he still has time to sort out how to get closer to the person he has feelings for. The element of fear and hesitation radiates throughout the song as he then continues by saying “actually, I don’t want the spring to come,” because he is content with simply watching this person from afar. As much as this song is about an underlying fear of rejection, it also points to idealize someone with very little to go off of. The only thing about this person that is noted throughout the song is their smile. While this individual seems like they mean a lot to the speaker, the speaker is ultimately unnoticed by their secret love because they are not brave enough to close the gap between them. I feel that this song is ultimately relatable to many of us, as there will always be someone who we are fond of but seems out of our reach or unapproachable.

Song Four: “Black Mercedes” by Mark Diamond

 

This takes place in a park that is right next to the main road. It’s late at night, and you’re just walking past the park. Everything is eerily still, and for a moment, all of the playground equipment is illuminated by a set of headlights that drive slow past you. The night air is humid and you think back on the first time you ever got into trouble.

 

This song strikes me as being the ultimate anthem for a bad boy. You know the kind I mean. Someone who is a risk taker and has little regard for their own life or for anyone else’s. In other words, reckless. Mark Diamond is a Seattle native who creates music because of the pressing thoughts that ruminate in his mind. Because of these addictive thoughts, it drives him to keep pushing himself to create new and intriguing things.

 

I personally feel a connection to the idea of obsessive thought in the song “Black Mercedes” because it seems to touch on a person that the speaker no longer holds good feelings towards. The whole song feels as though it has a mocking tone, but at the same time, there is an air of mystery surrounding the subject of the song that he finds intriguing. By repeating the phrase “Oh I bet” over and over again, Diamond suggests a sort of jest at this other person as the speaker is continually making assumptions about them. He asserts the idea that this person likes to drive around and is “not bothered when the road gets wet,” which I take to mean that they choose not to take any cautions and speed even in inclimate weather. He then tells the person that he believes that they are “lonely even when [they’re] with [their] friends.” Perhaps he has a particularly perceptive eye, or maybe he’s just trying to get to them. He seems here to be inserting himself as the missing piece that will solve the emptiness in this person’s life that causes them to be reckless and lonely.

Song Five: “Lavender Hue” by Emma Bieniewicz

 

This song I imagine being played on an early morning, just as the sun is rising over the lake in the park. The silhouettes of Canadian geese are illuminated by the light and the sky above is cast in pastel pinks and purples. You sit down at a carved wooden bench at the edge of the lake, and a woman in a blonde ponytail jogs behind you on the gravel path. You sit there, reminiscing about a lost love.

 

This song easily evokes a sunrise for me because of how incredibly soft and peaceful it is. I think that the word lavender also connotes a sense of relaxation and brings with it a dream-like quality. Emma Bieniewicz studies Violin and Viola Performance at Grand Rapids Community College and grew up in Ada, Michigan.

 

“Lavender Hue,” although a short and simple song, packs a lot of punch. In this song, Emma is writing about her boyfriend, Lake and describing her love for him and what drew her towards him. She tells him that the reason she must constantly be thinking of him is his “lavender hue,” meaning that he exudes a soft and beautiful aura that calls to her. She then compares him to “violet skies” and a “clouded sun,” each of which emit a sort of light, but are softened by a veiled layer. She wants to say that her boyfriend is radiant and nurturing and gives her the comfort that she needs. I find this song to be particularly lovely because it focuses on one’s inner light instead of their outward appearance.

Song Six: “Empty Space” by James Arthur

 

Walking along a cement sidewalk in a foreign city, you pass by a playground squeezed in a small quad in the greater city setting. You pause for a moment to observe the children running by and smile to yourself, then continue on down the street. You glance in the large glass window of a cafe and for a moment, you think you see someone you used to know. Then they turn their head and you realize you’re staring at a stranger.

 

When I hear this song, I think about the feeling of looking for someone’s face in every crowd you see. It’s the type of longing that you can’t shake, the sort of person that will always take residence somewhere in the back of your mind. James Arthur has always been good at creating songs that resonate within the deepest spaces of me. Arthur is an English singer/songwriter and winner of The X Factor in its ninth year. He became most famous for his cover of “Impossible” by Shontelle.

 

“Empty Space” begins with denial as Arthur sings about how he refuses to let the person he’s speaking of take up every aspect of his life. He tells this person that they’re “not in every window [he looks] through,” trying to convince himself that he’s over them, but clearly is not. At the chorus, he finally admits that he’s been trying to fill the void of loneliness by sleeping around with other people but he then says to them “only you could fill this empty space.” Clearly, the person has made a much more lasting impression than he cares to let on. Without this love in his life, he feels as though there is a meaning that is lost from his life.

Song Seven: “Painting Greys” by Emmit Fenn

 

In this final song, you should picture yourself walking through a fairly crowded park on an overcast day. It’s impossible to clear your head and you came here to try to quiet your mind, but just as you start to people watch, a gentle rain starts falling. You left your umbrella at home, so you shove your hands in your coat pockets and you turn back the way you came, frustrated.

 

I believe there to be a cyclical element to this song. One in which it is easy to get your mind stuck in a loop. Perhaps it is because the subject is a frustrated one, or maybe it is the image of the merry-go-round, but the whole song emulates the feeling of being stuck. Coming from Berkley, California,  Emmit Fenn is best known for his blend of indie and electronic music styles.

 

In Fenn’s song “Painting Greys,” I am particularly drawn to the combination of the simple piano notes mixed with the heavier electronic drops towards the chorus. He also layers his voice over itself to give it a more mystical quality that adds to the overall overcast atmosphere. Fenn first addresses the subject of his song by claiming that she has his heart “in a chokehold.” He feels unable to extricate himself from the love that he is stuck in, for fear that leaving it would be more painful than the vise he’s currently being held in. He then claims that she takes him “round and round like the merry-go,” meaning that he’s on a ride that he can’t get off, constantly going in circles. This song, more so than anything else, is about lacking progression in one’s life and feeling held back.

 

Visualization is something that is second nature to me, especially with music. That’s why I have to be listening to certain playlists when I write. What I listen to greatly influences what I produce, in both tone and story. I tend to gravitate towards songs that connect to my own life or to the lives of the characters I might be writing at the time. Everything has a specific mood and setting because music is meant to be atmospheric.

You can listen to the full playlist here!

 

Junior English-Creative Writing Major at Hofstra University. Music and cat enthusiast.
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