In response to my Trailhead yesterday, below is my Penultimate Playlist and its corresponding commentary.
How do you define your life? How, in your twilight hours, would you like to look back on your past for one final sonic journey? I wrote Sunday about death, about the fear it causes many (including myself), about its necessity, about how it marks not a true end but a continuation. The transition from Life to Death is not an easy one, I know, but having some sort of ceremony must help.
In that spirit, I wanted to create a playlist, a set of songs that I could play in my second-to-last hour of life (assuming I knew or could pick the far-off moment I would die). But how do I select the songs? Do I choose the ones that highlight specific moments from my past and use the playlist to journey along the timeline of my life? Do I seek to shape a theme and, if so, what would that theme be? Do I want a somber reflection on existence? Do I want one last Perry Apartment-approved dance party?
I decided to pick the songs that are most significant to me, the ones that call out to me as I scan old radio playlists and my iPod. Some do have specific moments attached to them - a coffeehouse I went to as a high school kid in Delaware, the wintry streets of Elmira, New York - but many just appeared on this list because they are a part of my identity. They are the songs of Paul Riley. I don’t know why - I have no awareness of why these songs crop up so often in my still-short history. Perhaps it’s because of their melodic beauty. Or perhaps they represent something larger than any one moment or chord could say: resilience in the face of coldness, nostalgia, the bond between brothers and family.
This list will inevitably change as I grow older. Songs will mean different things to me then. But for now, I present to you my Penultimate Playlist.
Final tally: 17 songs, 60:02
(I wasn’t sure how best to share these songs. On the one hand, YouTube videos would be best - providing visuals to keep you focused as you listen, with a greater degree of permanence. But I figured that they ought to be best heard as a playlist - as much as I could make them into one. I hope you enjoy this.)