Top Tunes – May 2023

I used to have a friend who made a playlist for every month. I found this very practical because she then could choose her favourite songs at that time and listen to them together. When I looked at her phone though, I saw that she had saved every single playlist she made every month going back like five years. I asked her why she kept the ones for the months past and she replied that it was because it was nice to go back and see what she was listening to last summer, or in November 5 years ago and see how much her taste has changed. Playing a her playlist for July 2017 two years later made her think of the trips she took that summer. I have some songs I played during my trip to California in 2017 that still play every once in a while and I suddenly remember our trip.

Anyways, since I am much too lazy to make a playlist every month and I also do not want to use up all my phone storage with the music app. I have decided to tally up five songs per month and make a quick post about them. Probably touching on why I like them, when I’m listening to them, how they make me feel. Shit like that. And then when I’m 70 years old I can log into my ye olde blog ad see what tunes I was writing my research essays to in my second year of university (probably with the screen implanted in my head – or maybe the AI will have taken over by then and I will loose all volition, or maybe the air will lack oxygen or maybe a mushroom virus will take over and the world will become a desolate urban greenscape with creepy mycorrhizal fungal network communicating zombies. (Yes, I just watched The Last of Us)). When they release the Taylor Swifts Greatest Hits Album I’ll have proof that I’m a real fan because I’ve been listening since the Fearless Era. So yeah, will I be consistent and post every month, who knows? Probably not. But this seems cool, so I’m doing it. Thanks for the idea Sophia, hope we can rekindle our friendship sometime.

Without further ado, here are my Top Tunes for May 2023:

#5 ‘Scott Street’ – Phoebe Bridgers, Stranger in the Alps

‘Scott Street’ may be #5 for May, but she’s been in the top 3 most played songs for 2022. I still love her very much I just got to make some room for the new stuff. Phoebe Bridgers will forever have a place in my heart, since her songs write the absolute best essays. I must enter a trance when I shuffle her albums because I will look at the clock and three hours have passed. ‘Scott Street’ is obviously about two people who were once involved, I can see this when reading the lyrics. But for some reason, when I listen to this song, I think about that “once involved person” as the past me. And the current me is meeting her again. I have no idea if that makes any sense, but this is what I feel. The bridge has bike bells, a choo choo train, and some sort of horn. It’s a weird array of noise, but cumulatively – with the lyrics “don’t be a stranger” – I felt like it sort of meant don’t be a stranger to yourself, or to your past self. Idk. It’s a weird one & although I’m sure I’ve taken this song totally out of context, I like it because it reminds me of my childhood, and the tumultuous events, broken friendships, and strangers I’ve made along the way. Also the idea of growing up and not knowing what to do about it. In verse 1 Phoebe is shopping for no reason just cuz she has the money now. I’ve got a job that pays me but I don’t really know what do to with it because I know that nothing bought can ever make you truly happy. – More plants I guess maybe could. Anywho.

Spending money and I earned it
When I'm lonely that's when I'll burn it. 

- Phoebe Bridgers, 'Scott Street'
#4 ‘Would’ve, Could’ve, Should’ve’ – Taylor Swift, Midnights

Listening to ‘Would’ve, Could’ve, Should’ve’ as an experienced swiftie means that I know with most certainty that this song is about John Mayer. But I like this song because it is all about making mistakes. Being young and naive and looking back regretfully because you know you made the wrong choice. As someone who has also been listening to Taylor Swift for so long, I find this one is one of her most powerful songs. It hits just the same as ‘All Too Well,’ ‘Peace,’ and the recently released ‘You’re Loosing Me.’ These are all songs that strangely enough make me feel like I really know Taylor and humanizes her in a way her other songs don’t. I always find it weird that these people who write books or make music that I listen to are real. Taylor Swift might be eating dinner as I write this and Cassandra Clare is maybe touching up a new book. Maybe it’s weird because I’ve only ever seen these people on screens and therefore have trouble reconciling with the idea that they also brush their teeth, sneeze, and live at the same time that I do. Maybe it’s because I watch too much TV where I become wholeheartedly invested in characters that are not real. I find it is easier for me when these people are dead. I know Emily Dickinson, Charlotte Lennox, Jane Austen, and Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley were real. I know this because I get a sense of who they were and their hardships through their poetry and prose. I guess what I’m saying is that I have trouble connecting with people and considering characters real without some sort of written work by them? ‘Would’ve, Could’ve, Should’ve’ is a reminder that Taylor Swift is a real person and makes mistakes and struggles too. Maybe I just have trouble reconciling with the idea that someone with skin so clear can actually exist. She makes me think of that humanoid robot Sophia. Anyway, I digress. I like this song & I’ve listened to it very often the past month.

And I damn sure never would've danced with the devil 
At nineteen
And the God's honest truth is that the pain was heaven 
And now that I'm grown, I'm scared of ghosts 
Memories feel like weapons 
And now that I know, I wish you left me wondering

God rest my soul, I miss who I used to be
The tomb won't close, stained glass windows in my mind 
I regret you all the time 
I can't let this go, I fight with you in my sleep
The wound won't close, I keep on waiting for a sign 
I regret you all the time 

- Taylor Swift, 'Would've, Could've, Should've'
#3 ‘Michigan Cherry’ – River Whyless, Monoflora

I don’t really know what this song is about. To be totally honest, I don’t know anything about this group either. This song was playing on a friend’s Instagram story and I added it to my library after hearing a 15 second snippet. I like it though because it makes me feel so calm. It’s giving Anne with an E vibes, just old times, slow times, intentional living. I just imagine myself sitting on a veranda in a rocking chair looking out into the horizon, feeling the summer breeze and smelling the freshly planted annuals (which are also on the veranda). There’s a braid in my hair, maybe I’m dressed like the folks at Kings Landing? Or maybe I’m just wearing my Birkenstock Clogs? Haven’t figured that one out yet. I don’t know why this is my vision but it is. Also, I recently drove to Maine to visit my Grandparents on a Friday night and the sun was setting and this song started playing during golden hour and it was really pretty. I’m supposed to remember one moment a day where I feel gratitude for my pathetic excuse of a gratitude journal and for that Friday it was that drive. So pretty. I wish I could have taken a picture but I was driving.

In your maiden mind.
What have you made in mine?

- River Whyless, 'Michigan Cherry'
#2 ‘Not’ – Big Thief, Two Hands

This is my “its time for bed but my head is going a mile a minute thinking about everything that ever existed ever” song. I’ve been listening to Big Thief for a while now, I enjoy the folk-rock thing they got going on and their environmental themes. ‘Shark Smile’ is what got me into this group, but this past fall I was obsessed with ‘Paul’ and ‘Simulation Swarm’ in particular. Eventually I just had Capacity and Dragon New Warm Mountain I Believe In You on repeat. I don’t really care for many of the songs on U.F.O.F. or on Two Hands other than this one. The continuous negation is catchy and Adrianne Lenker’s passion in the bridge is moving. I also like the idea that Lenker is stating that true meaning and purpose is found from within ‘not’ from those around us.

Not what you really wanted 
Nor the mess in your purse
Nor the bed that is haunted 
With the blanket of thirst 
It's not the hunger revealing 
Nor the ricochet in the cave 
Nor the hand that is healing
Nor the nameless grave 

It's not the room 
Not beginning 
Not the crowd 
Not winning 
Not the planet 
That's spinning 
Not a ruse 
Not heat 
Not the fire lapping up the creek 
Not food 
That you eat 

Not to die 
Not dying 
Not to laugh 
Not lying 
Not the vacant wilderness vying 

- Big Thief, 'Not'
#1 ‘Anti-Curse’ – Boygenius, The record

Boygenius’ The record is 50/50 for me. I love ‘Anti-Curse,’ ‘Not Strong Enough,’ ‘Emily I’m Sorry,’ ‘True Blue,’ and of course ‘Letter To An Old Poet,’ but I could live without the others. I particularly enjoy the rampant nihilism in this album and also in their self titled EP. Just a couple of gals trying to figure out wtf they are doing and why they are doing it. This is a song for the car ride after work when I’m asking myself “why?” I love my job most days, but sometimes I just wonder if this is what is meant for me, or if anything can truly be meant for me. Which then makes me think of other jobs, books, the idea of soulmates, my cats, and coincidences. I guess I just like songs that make me think, the melody doesn’t even have to be good. My mom has said multiple times that she can’t stand my music because it just “sounds like sounds and not music” maybe she’s right but I’m too busy pondering and daydreaming to notice.

Salt in my lungs 
Holding my breath 
Making peace with my inevitable death 

I guess I did alright considering
Tried to be a halfway decent friend 
Wound up a bad comedian
An honest fool with more bad habits 
Than you can count 

There we were 
Was anyone ever so young?
Breakin' curfew with illegal fireworks 
Unpackin' God in the suburbs

- Boygenius, 'Anti-Curse' 
Honorable Mentions

‘This Isn’t Helping (feat. Phoebe Bridgers)’ – The National, First Two Pages of Frankenstein

‘Left with a Gun’ – Skinshape, Oracolo

‘Every Time The Sun Comes Up’ – Sharon Van Etten, Are We There

‘I Don’t Want to Know’ – Fleetwood Mac, Rumours

’25’ – Alix Page, Old News