October 31, 2020
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This Week’s Playlist: Keep Looking Up

I was born and raised surrounded by music. 

From the time I was an infant, my parents would host informal music education sessions, popping CDs into the 8-track player built into our old minivan, gracing my ears with a variety of classic and alternative rock, from Queen to Rob Thomas and so much in between. 

As I’ve gotten older, and as streaming platforms replaced iTunes, I was able to experiment more with the music I chose to listen to, exposing myself to the entire discographies of a variety of bands that were made available to me through Pandora stations or Apple Music recommendations. 

The Killers recently released their sixth studio album (Twitter).

No matter where you get your music from, and no matter how much or what kind of music you prefer to listen to, there is an inarguable, tribal quality to every song that has ever existed. 

Music is a pure translation of raw emotion. It doesn’t need words, and it doesn’t need to be in a language you understand. There is feeling in chord progressions and guitar solos, just as there is feeling in nonsensical scatting or made-up words that artists create to fill a certain rhythm. 

2020 has been a year ravaged by political division, growing environmental disasters, global protests, riots and a global pandemic that has spiraled out of control. And in this time of pain and suffering, it is more important than ever to take a moment, step away from the darkness of the news cycle and to lose yourself within the emotions of a song. 

This week’s playlist features 14 songs that appear to have almost nothing in common. 

The genres range from alternative to rock, to pop, to folk. Some songs are more than twenty years old, and some were released just a few months ago. Some of these featured artists and bands are past their heyday, though many of these musicians are all-time favorites of mine. And others have found ways to maintain relevancy over the decades, a truly remarkable feat. 

John Mayer released his first album in 2001 (Twitter).

But each of these 14 songs shares a common theme — hope. 

Darkness will remain dark only as long as we allow it. But nothing can truly overcome the strength of the human heart, and music speaks directly to that passionate pool of empathy and concern that beats in everyone’s core. 

So “Keep Your Head Up,” throw “Caution” to the wind, “Look For The Good” in “Pretty Shining People,” remember that we are all “Beautiful Anyway” and, together, maybe we can “Scare Away The Dark.”

If you need a break from the stresses of life in quarantine, here are 55 minutes of thoughtless, anthemic bliss.

 

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