So the other day I was feeling frustrated and sad and quickly spiraling toward a dark emotional place (stick with me, this story is going up from here). After getting out what I could via gchat freakout, I stepped away to try to pull myself together. Unsure of what music this moment called for, I turned on my “Favorite Songs Ever” mix. It’s a mix I’ve been curating for years, and at this point it’s 4 hours and 40 minutes of pure, essential Laura. These are the songs that have really meant something to me over pretty much every stage of my life. Some of them are tied to specific people, or events, or phases, and many of them started that way and have transformed my understanding of those entry points into something even richer over time. Almost immediately, my emotional tide began to turn. With every song I remembered a little more of who I am, and who I have been. I remembered heartache I can now look back on fondly, knowing where it took me. I remembered moments that still feel too good to be true, and hold in them all the beautiful possibilities of life.
Here are the songs I’m listening to right now. Someday I’ll hear them and remember what life looked like and felt like at this point on the line, and hopefully I’ll be able to smile about the hard things and thank God for the good.
“Saturn,” Sufjan Stevens, Nico Muhly, Bryce Dessner, James McAlister
Experimental Sufjan is my favorite Sufjan. This project, which has been in existence for at least four years, is finally getting released to the public, and MAYBE JUST MAYBE that will mean a tour? Probably not, but I dream. Like so much on The Age of Adz, this song seems to access something deep within me that even I can’t quite put my finger on yet.
“Slip Away,” Perfume Genius
The first single off Perfume Genius’ forthcoming sophomore album does exactly what you hope it will do: it builds off the voice of a perfect first album while pushing it forward into something new.
“Million Dollar Secret,” Lucius
This song played over the credits of a recent GIRLS episode and I’m not ashamed to admit that there were tears welling up in my eyes. GIRLS is about to end, and that feels meaningful as it’s been a show that has in many ways represented my 20s (which are also, in fact, over). And Lucius, more than any other band, has represented this same phase of my life. As far as I know, Lucius is not ending (PLEASE NEVER END) but this convergence created something meaningful in my heart. Also I just love everything Lucius has ever done with a nearly unrivaled enthusiasm.
“For the Songless Hearts,” Jon & Val Guerra
Lent is almost over, Holy Week is nearly here. It’s a joyful time, but that joy isn’t always what rises to the surface in the most difficult moments. This is a song for the hearts that can’t muster the strength to sing right now. It will come. And until then, as they write, “He sings for us – and over us – when we can’t.”
“True Love Will Find You in the End,” Beck
This cover was playing over the credits of yet another TV show I watch (LOVE) and it so perfectly captures a combo of hope and sadness that is so rare. (See also: “Favorite Songs Ever” inclusions “I Am Not Waiting Anymore” by Field Report and “It Doesn’t Matter Anymore” by Lucius.”)