On iTunes, my Top 25 Most Played playlist serves as a melodic trip down memory lane. Each song reminds me of a specific place and feeling, and most importantly, a variety of well-loved people. What better way to preserve these musically-charged memories than to write about them? It can feel daunting to write every day, so let’s make it more manageable. Music helps to reflect, and I have compiled a list of songs to play before writing each month. I hope that you, too, are inspired to listen, reflect, and write.
“The Swimming Song,” by Loudon Wainwright III
When summer winds down, it often arbitrarily ends other things as well—jobs, romances, tans (except for those of us who only burn)… What will you miss most about summer?
“September,” by Earth, Wind & Fire
This song makes me want to dance down a sidewalk like I’m in a musical or a movie. I can’t sit still in autumn—I want to be outside constantly enjoying the weather. Where is your favorite place to be on a beautiful day?
“The Sound of Sunshine Going Down,” by Michael Franti & Spearhead
This song feels appropriate for October because as the leaves change, they begin to match the sunsets. Do you prefer sunsets or sunrises? What do they sound like to you?
“You Are the Best Thing,” by Ray LaMontagne
As we approach Thanksgiving, we’re reminded to be grateful. What do you appreciate most right now? What (or who) is your best thing?
Home for the holidays? Wishing you were? Wishing you weren’t? Where do you feel most at home, and who is your “original crew?”
“Winds of Change,” by Fitz & The Tantrums
You can try to fight change, but you can’t stop the arrival of a new year. What change are you looking forward to? What change are you ignoring? What change triggers a panic attack at the mere thought of its imminence?
“The Walk,” by Mayer Hawthorne
This song surprised me with its lyrics because I expected a happy, romantic story: “But I love the way you walk now, and your legs are so long.” Yet then the chorus puts a twist on things: “And you can walk your long legs, baby, right out of my life.” I like that the words don’t paint a picture of perfection—the song is more original for it. Around Valentine’s Day, memories of exes tend to resurface. Who of your significant others ever surprised you in some wonderfully unexpected way?
“On Top of the World,” by Imagine Dragons
My favorite day of the year always arrives on a different date, but it usually comes in mid-March: it is the first day that feels like spring, whether it’s here to stay or not. A weight is lifted (literally) when I can venture outside without a coat or pair of gloves. What makes you feel on top of the world?
“Everything Will Be Alright,” by The Killers
April is the month I forget about. I’m not sure why, but I always want to jump straight from March to May. Likewise, I tend to forget that minor setbacks are not permanently debilitating. I jump from failed test to never graduating. But just like April lasts thirty days without fail, bad days (or weeks or months or years) will turn around. What did you think was the end of your world, but wasn’t?
“Rivers and Roads,” by The Head and the Heart
As a student, May always means “goodbye,” or “see you soon” at the least. Who are you missing right now?
“Send Me on My Way,” by Rusted Root
Summer is the time to travel! Where are you heading? Where do you wish you could go?
“Made In America,” by Kanye West & Jay-Z
Every country has its imperfections, but July is America’s birthday month, a time to celebrate. What are the things that make you proud to be an American?
So here’s the soundtrack. You have the memories. Start writing!
Mary is Indiana Review’s Prize Intern for summer 2012.