2015 in songs

“says” that you play when your mind is wandering because every note seems to travel, too. you listened to this record so many times you could have worn it out and when you finally heard it live you understood what it means to be blown away by music. sound. movement. everything. you spent months organising an interview with nils. the work was your chef d’oeuvre, the thing you put your everything into, and when you showed up at his flat the walls were so white. stacks of records. more pianos than you could count. you smoked cigarettes with him and drank coffee and talked about silver apples of the moon. he sat down to play and you literally held your breath. everyone was quiet and the silence lasted a year until he started to play and it felt like fireworks.

fire” that you heard for the first time in someone else’s living, drunk on red wine and cigarette smoke and guitar riffs. the band played unplugged, all rough hands and calloused fingers and long hair thrashing about. it was the last day of summer you can remember. you hadn’t slept but you were wide awake. every lyric struck a chord in you, you’d never heard your story sung by someone else before. it was a long time before you heard the song again. this time you listened through a haze of whiskey. she sang it alone at first but the room joined in, as they always do. you were smiling so much that it hurt.

“wear your love out” that filtered through in a mix made by someone you loved and then lost, or maybe never loved at all. it crept up so slowly that you got chills and you felt like crying or dancing or crumpling up because you were sure nothing would ever make you feel that full again. you listened to the mix over and over again, always waiting for the track to come in. you played it loud on the day that pete namlook died and you wondered about heaven and you felt like floating. you didn’t know him but sometimes you feel like you do. listening to this track and the mix make you feel connected, the way music is supposed to. you played the track once before falling asleep so now when you hear it feels like dreaming.

valerie” that you sang in a park in barcelona, lying on the grass, tired and wild and happy. your friend sang too, and around you people were looking but neither of you cared. you were off key and you couldn’t stop laughing. when you heard it next, you were standing in a hallway with a friend who can sing, and you talked about amy and soul and music and life. she sang it, drunk but on key, and you were laughing then, too. you listen to it at home when you want to sing along, and when you want to remind yourself how much soul is inside you.

“wet silk will” that you heard for the first time in a cloud of smoke and soundwaves, sitting on the floor of your friends’ living room in berlin. your friend laid down the record and it played out so effortlessly. when you picked up the album sleeve your hand touched his and you felt this shock like electricity or static or energy or stars. you looked at each other for a second that lasted an hour. you heard it again, this time laid down by the artist, when you came home again for the first time in a year. you were surrounded by your friends, the ones you call family, and everything made so much sense. when you listen to the track again it gives you the creeps because it sounds so familiar and so foreign at the same time.

st. jude” that always sounds quieter every time you hear it. it sounds like a small church, hymnal in all its lilts and sways. it’s one of those songs that has nothing particular about it, sometimes you can’t even remember how it goes. you used to forget about about it until you heard it again. when she sang it live you were on an island watching the sun set and the water ebb and flow. you were with your best friend and you both had your arms up and your eyes closed and the wind seemed to know. the patron saint of the lost causes.

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