My top song of 2020 was “Moon Song” by Phoebe Bridgers, mainly because of one line: “But now I am dreaming/ And you’re singing at my birthday/ And I’ve never seen you smiling so big.” The person I imagine as “you” changed throughout the year, but what remained was my longing for closeness, hugs that lift your feet off the ground and drunk karaoke in iridescent cowboy hats. A world pre-pandemic or, maybe, if we’re kind and patient and very, very lucky, a world post-pandemic.
For this last column, I asked my friends to share a bit of what they’re looking forward to as a post-pandemic world starts to come into focus. They sent me songs of rumination, rest and, most of all, celebration. Here are a few of them; the rest will be in the Commencement issue later this week.
Alex Viveros: “Last Friday Night (T.G.I.F.)” (2010) by Katy Perry
This song is an absolute bop, and anybody who tells you any different is lying. Not only is the music video iconic, but there’s something about the song that hypes you up in that special early-2010s way. With a return to normalcy looking more and more promising, I’m just excited to play this song while driving to the beach with my friends. Oh, and that saxophone? Absolute banger.
Kristina Marchand: “Can’t Hold Us” (2012) by Macklemore and Ryan Lewis
The year is 2012. You are in middle school and silly bandz are so last year and duct tape wallets are in. It is a simpler time. And now, in 2021, hearing Macklemore and Ryan Lewis’ iconic hip-hop duo brings out some moves you didn’t even know still exist within you. So, for my pick, I’m queuing up “Can’t Hold Us” from “The Heist” to play for Jess and Robert Kaplan at my 21st birthday. The night might end up with some first-degree burns and sprained ankles, but Macklemore will hold us up. It’s the summer of 2021. Life might be returning to normal (fingers crossed) so let’s listen to music from simpler times and dance it out.
Robert Kaplan: “Under the Night” (2019) by Bedouine
I’ve lately been saying that relationships — whether friends, family or otherwise — are like plants in a garden. Some require regular and active care while others thrive with an annual check-in. Some are weeds which take and take and take until you tear them out, while others appear for only one night, like a short-lived grocery-store bouquet. The metaphor is highly extendable and I’m very proud of it, but I only mention it because it’s all I could think of while listening to this underrated folk ballad from Bedouine. I discovered it mere days ago, immediately thinking of those earlier characters of life for whom we are both flowers in each other’s gardens, blooming unnoticed in an untended corner. She sings, “‘Cause when I’m alone/ We’re still looking at the same moon,” and I like to think that we really are. I imagine them listening to this song, thinking the same thing. Happy spring!