From First Year to Fourth Year: The Evolution of a Sentimental Study Playlist

On one stifling hot evening in September 2016, I was sitting in the Douglas Library reading room with my Human Geography textbook in front of me when I opened the music app on my phone and created a playlist titled “Best Study Tunes.” I was distracted, didn’t want to be reading, and felt a little bit lonely. It was also stressful to feel like I hadn’t quite found my groove as a Queen’s student yet.

Like many other people, music has always given me a great feeling of solace. I find that listening to songs to which I’ve attached some sentimental value initiates a certain sense of nostalgia that helps ease my anxiety and stress unlike anything else. That playlist I made in first year started out with just six songs; flash forward three years later to the beginning of my fourth year, and my study playlist has gone from a six-song setlist to a colossal 327-song tribute to my Queen’s experience. In the typical, nostalgic fourth year fashion, I’ve pulled a few highlights from each year of my Queen’s music journey to reflect on their sentimental meaning.

                                                        Image credit: Cassidy McMackon (@cassidymcmackon)

FIRST YEAR

“A Day in the Life” by The Beatles

I grew up as a big Beatles fan, and I ended up choosing to write my final MUSC 171 paper about this song. I listened to the song at least 50 times in writing the six pages that would make up the final assignment and felt that final crescendo in my body as the tension left my shoulders upon submitting the paper. I still can’t listen to this song without remembering the hours upon hours I spent in Stauffer trying to finish it. 

“Cringe” by Matt Maeson

This song will forever be a reminder of a huge milestone for me; it was the last song I listened to before stepping into my very first apartment on the first day of my lease.

                                                                                              Matt Maeson

SECOND YEAR

“Mind Games” by John Lennon

I heard this song playing while eating dinner at Copper Penny with my dad. It was on the coldest day of 2018 during the week before school started after Christmas break, and I remember freezing on the five-minute walk back to my house with him.

“Don’t Look Back in Anger” by Oasis

This was the song I listened to over and over while staying in Kingston, alone in my house with my then-partner over the winter semester reading week. This song has always helped me reflect on my relationships at Queen’s (romantic and otherwise), as well as the parts of them I loved the most to appreciate how they have helped me grow. 

“Gordie” by The Glorious Sons

One of my favourite memories of second year was being at the Leon’s Centre, screaming this song with the rest of the city of Kingston in ode to the late, great Gord Downie.

                 The Glorious Sons at the Leon's Centre. Image credit: Cassidy McMackon (@cassidymcmackon)

THIRD YEAR

“Cardinal” by Mt. Joy

The lyric “Everything’s exactly where it needs to be” towards the end of the song was exactly what I needed to hear when I stumbled on this song during a period of loneliness and homesickness. The song perfectly captures what it feels like to be in a seemingly unrelenting stretch of loneliness, which I’m sure all of us in university experience at one point (or even several points) during our degrees. “Cardinal” brings a certain sense of peace to this feeling. 

“Mr. Brightside” by Run River North (original by The Killers)

I don’t think there’s a single Queen’s student that has never heard this song at a house party; it could easily be dubbed the unofficial anthem of our school. This cover is the perfect addition to a study playlist because it is a slowed-down version of a song that symbolizes my Queen’s experience, as I’m sure it does for many other students.

                                                                                     Run River North

FOURTH YEAR

“It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue” by Them (original by Bob Dylan)

I heard this cover for the first time in the movie adaptation of Donna Tartt’s The Goldfinch at the scene where Theo is taking the bus back to New York from Las Vegas with his dog. I love Bob Dylan’s original version of the song, as well as his 1966 Royal Albert Hall performance of the song. The blending of the movie and song cover makes it the perfect sentimental addition to a playlist.

“A War on Everything” by The Glorious Sons

I was lucky enough to see these hometown heroes at their show at Richardson Stadium on September 21st with my best friend from my hometown. At this show, I wound up talking to a young firefighter about how much we liked the band. He dubbed the show we were at as a “historical event” and referred to the Sons as the “future" during the performance of this song. His profound hopefulness struck me, so I want to carry his sense of hope with me whenever I listen to this song.

                                                                                    The Glorious Sons