To start out with a somewhat-painful cliché – it is indeed that time of year again. The time where holiday fanatics mourn the conclusion of the beloved holiday season. The time where we ashamedly remember all the goals we had set for ourselves at the beginning of January that were eventually abandoned. The time where we pull a 180 and write up a whole new list of resolutions for ourselves as we boldly claim, “this upcoming year will be different!”
This sentiment is not to make you feel guilty or discouraged. I myself am the queen of setting a new year goal that is – more often than not – somehow magically forgotten after a mere week or two. Upon reflecting on our tendencies to hold the new year to such a high standard, I am humored by our human nature. The concept of time and the calendar are manmade instruments that are used to organize and make sense of our lives. Why do so many of us make excuses and put off the changing of a habit until the beginning of the following year? Essentially, New Year’s Day is simply another day, another hour, another minute. Though, it is true that many of us get accustomed to our habits, stuck in our ways, and as time passes, more unlikely to change. If ringing in a new year can signify the beginning of a new chapter and new motivations, then that in itself is worth celebrating!
Beginning a new chapter of life in general is most often bittersweet, and this playlist aims to capture some of that. This might mean leaving a piece of yourself behind – a home, a job, a relationship (The Kinks’ “So Long,” Ryan Adam’s “Outbound Train,” Tom Petty’s “Time to Move On”). This might simultaneously be the opening of a new door that brings new adventures, new people to meet, and a strong, wanderlust-fueled desire to dive deep into the unknown – even when you are not sure where it may lead you (Mac Demarco’s “The Stars Keep on Calling My Name,” The B-52s’ “Roam”).
There are songs of reinvention and longing on a personal level, particularly Joni Mitchell’s “Free Man in Paris” – a track that mirrors my heart’s wildest desires to a T.
“I was a free man in Paris
I felt unfettered and alive
There was nobody calling me up for favors
And no one’s future to decide…”
The playlist is closed by two power ballads, the first being pop sensation Lorde’s hit single “Green Light” from her sophomore album, Melodrama. Released this year to high critical acclaim, the twenty-one-year-old New Zealander described “Green Light” as a post-heartbreak rebuilding anthem.
“But I hear sounds in my mind
Brand new sounds in my mind
But honey I’ll be seein’ you, ever, I go
But honey I’ll be seein’ you down every road
I’m waiting for it, that green light, I want it…”
The last tune is my personal favorite Bruce Springsteen song – “Thunder Road.” The opening track on his 1975 album Born to Run, the lyrics are fueled by the desire to find a sense of meaning and purpose by stepping outside a life one has always known.
“Hey, what else can we do now?
Except roll down the window and let the wind blow back your hair
Well, the night’s busting open, these two lanes will take us anywhere
We got one last chance to make it real
To trade in these wings on some wheels
Climb in back, heaven’s waiting on down the tracks
Oh oh, come take my hand
We’re riding out tonight to case the promised land…”
In his VH1 Storytellers interview in 2005, Springsteen himself described the music as sounding like “an invitation. Something is opening up to you…a sense of a larger life, greater experience…a sense of personal exploration, your possibilities…the idea that it is all lying somewhere inside of you…just on the edge of town.”
“There were ghosts in the eyes of all the boys you sent away
They haunt this dusty beach road in the skeleton frames of burned-out Chevrolets
They scream your name at night in the street
Your graduation gown lies in rags at their feet
And in the lonely cool before dawn
You hear their engines rolling on
But when you get to the porch, they’re gone on the wind
So Mary, climb in
It’s a town full of losers, I’m pulling out of here to win.”
There is no time like the present, and there is no time to waste. Make the most of this new year – go create! Go pursue! Go explore! Go live!