songs i could listen to on repeat
a sort-of playlist
I started this project as an ode to my favorite songs, but halfway through, when I was totally stumped on where to go next, I realized I needed to change it up a little.
Instead of explaining the songs and my connection with each song, I realized that to capture what it was I was trying to capture, I had to experience the songs on paper.
The only way to do that? I decided it was time to put my title to the test and see if I really could listen to these songs on repeat. So, yes, while writing each of these weird little snippets I was, in fact, listening to that song on repeat.
You know that feeling when you love a song so much you just want to live in it?
From time to time I find myself living in each of these songs, and here I am going to paint you a picture of what life in each song is like.
There is heartbreak in music, but there is also redemption, there is understanding and forgiveness. There is hope that someone out there has felt the same pain as you and found their way out of it.
When I close my eyes and listen to these songs I see colors and light and love and loss.
I don't think anyone knows the real me like these songs do.
(I would recommend listening to the songs at least once before you read about them.)
1. Who Do You Think You Are? by The Band Camino
I am looking at myself in the mirror but I don't think the person looking back is me. Is this a twisted joke? She is false, she is nobody, she doesn't exist. I want to miss her but how can you miss someone like that? How can you miss someone you never were?
Because you so badly want it to be you?
I do want to be her. She doesn't have this weight on her shoulders. she doesn't drag herself around like a wasted carnival game. How did she get so far away? How can you tell when someone has lost themselves to themselves?
I jump through the mirror and light flashes like a grenade. There are so many mirrors here, I see them all. The girl who rode the bus alone home from school, pushing and shoving to get a seat.
I turn to another mirror. The girl who listened to the happy sounds of others from her bedroom window.
Now how could that girl ever make it?
She couldn't, I think, is the answer. Nobody will ever have to tell her that she made it. She won't have to fake believing them. And maybe that's good. Maybe oblivion is good.
I turn to another mirror.
I don't miss the beginning, I don't miss being the girl who hid books behind her back like a thief in the night or the one who could never say the words that were always on her mind.
I look into another mirror but I know this one came from my imagination, and that hurts even more than the ones that didn't.
I wave to those on the other side, but they don't wave back. They never wave back.
Maybe because we're not really friends.
I don't dwindle on that mirror.
I want to smash it to pieces, but instead, I trip over the clothing on the floor, on the shoes and empty to-go bags.
How can you cover growing up when you're really just falling apart?
When you've always been falling apart?
Who am I supposed to be, because it's been a while since 17 and I still don't have an answer.
Is there a difference between not having anyone to listen and not wanting anyone to listen? Because I somehow have both.
The worst part is, I don't think anyone would miss this girl. I think they would all like the girl in the mirror better.
I don't think I even knew who I was at the start, and maybe that was always the problem, because now, when I look into the mirror I find there is nothing staring back at me.
2. Impossible by Nothing But Thieves
I can see the sunlight. Brilliant sunlight, reflecting off a snow covered mountain. I didn't think something so beautiful was possible.
They would be dancing, if I could I would dance like they do.
Their movements are love, their heartbeats are desire. And every one is easy, a brilliant sparkling laugh.
They make impossibilities, possible. Don't you wish you could do something like that?
Don't you wish you could save the drowned and incite that smile?
I would never come out. I would die of this.
Here I can see that orange sunlight and hear that bubbling laughter.
I would rejoice in the movement that those dancing steps required. I would scream the off key lyrics to my favorite songs if it made you laugh.
I would laugh at your laughter and drown myself in the way that dance turns your body into clay.
I feel too fucked up to matter but somehow with your sunlight and your movement and your desire I don't find myself caring.
But when I take a breath it's as if I could never let it go, as if the bounds of my lungs can no longer do their job, like everything you do to me is meant to happen.
Am I supposed to believe that it is, because I've always wanted to believe in destiny and you make it seem like something worth believing in.
You, who would take me to the water when I found it impossible to swim; when the chains of my fucked up self seem to be pulling us both under the surface.
Would you drown yourself in me as I would in you?
Or would you try to pull me out, because I'm afraid that my chains will drown us both, and you are much too good to be drowned by the likes of me.
But to drown in you? I wouldn't even hold my breath.
3. Disloyal Order of Water Buffaloes by Fall Out Boy
You want to feel blurry again. The kind of blurry that makes perfect boys imperfect. The kind that hides in truck stop stalls and knows it's half doomed.
Fists pump, drums blare their rhythm into the empty air.
You are so angry. We are so angry.
Two fighters in the ring, so how can they both look like you?
A punch rattles the stands, you against you.
Do you want to be the girl who sings about tragedy? Who tosses her words into the world and hopes for its sympathy?
No, I'll sing about futility, about coming apart at the seams because that's what happens.
You dodge the next punch and throw your weight into a dive. You slam yourself to the ground.
The crowd is going wild; the sounds of cheering and rhythmic claps floating through the air.
Someone spits on you. You deserve it. Your next punch is lighter. You feign left, getting into your guard and striking fast when you do.
You rage at yourself, the throbbing of your own head bright and alive.
It's only you in this ring.
It is easy to boycott love when you know there will never be anybody who loves you like you want to be loved.
That's what everyone is afraid of, isn't it, to be alone?
I think they are right to be afraid. You learn after many years of loneliness that it is better to be lonely by yourself than it is to be lonely with other people.
You curl away from your fingertips, just barely free from your own grip, you battle like a long elaborate dance, as if each movement was fine tuned to compliment the others.
The jeering eats at your ears, teeth sharp and angry, ripping you apart from the outside in.
Are everyone's teeth so sharp as theirs?
They do not stop. They will never stop.
And then you are thrown to the ground, your only company is yourself. A loose bolt. No longer a complete machine.
Were you even really unbroken, anyway? Does it matter if you fall apart now?
There is a hole where something was, but what do you care? You can't fix that hole anymore. Maybe you never could.
4. Bulletproof Heart by My Chemical Romance
The world is rising and your hair is beaten back by the wind and it feels like freedom for the first time in your life.
You are bulletproof and indestructible and the desert rolls out in front of you, magnificent and angry about nothing at all.
Nothing can touch you here.
Here you can feel the gentle caress of wind through your hair and the soft warmth of sunshine on your skin. Here the world doesn't stop moving and for once you don't mind it.
The pigs of the world are after you, but here the light never goes out and here the world never gets cold. Here the heart never grows dark and the bees never stop their buzzing.
So if we run away, promise me we’ll run here?
My head is cramped and there is nothing to be done for it, but my heart is empty and maybe there is nothing to be done for that either.
Can you fill emptiness with the way someone else makes you feel?
What do you do when the person you daydream about, when the person you write about doesn't really exist? Because I have all these people thinking I am in love, but there is nobody here loving me like that.
I can see us in the car, the top down and the wind in our eyes and ears and hair, but we don't mind, what is there to mind when you're one with freedom itself?
My hand rolls in the wind, up and down, like swimming in the air. I would love to swim in the air; I would love to feel the freedom of clear sky against my skin and the meaninglessness of gravity through my hair.
Tell the truth, they say, and God will save you. But what is God when gravity is nothing? What is God when he won't save you from that hopeless feeling? I don't mind his company, but do you think he really stays with you like they all say he does? If we ran away, would he follow us?
I don't want to be the one left standing, the rising tides deep and cold.
I would rather run my fingers through the wind and run away from here, driving through the desert with the top down, me and you. Everyone knows you don't wanna be the one preaching to those who don't care, so why preach at all? Who is going to care when there is nothing left to care about?
If we drive all night, do you think we could outrun destiny? Or would destiny outrun us in the end?
You sing along to the songs on the radio, and all of them are the ones we could listen to on repeat; we scream-sing the lyrics to each other. In an island full of loneliness, who am I to sing these lyrics to if not you?
Everybody knows you never want to come back, Jenny, and I don't blame you, I wouldn't want to come back, either. But this place. This place I never want to leave.
If I let you save me will I be out of my head, because I can't read the words on the paper and I think that means this is a dream.
I see us in pastels, riding through the desert like there is nobody coming after us. Sometimes I think maybe they really did leave us behind, pushed us to the edge of their memory until we have been completely forgotten. I can't say whether I would mind being forgotten like that.
5. I Miss Having Sex but at Least I Don't Want to Die Anymore by Waterparks
The sun is bright but the world is cold. How can the clouds be bright when the world is so dark?
I don't know. I don't know.
That's what it is, saying sad things in a happy voice. I miss the way you held me, like you never wanted to let go. But it's fine. I don't think anyone will ever do that again. It's cool.
The world is wretched in yellow, angry yellow. I miss the way your hand felt in mine, the way it felt to not be alone. The way it feels to know something that nobody else does.
The fog is thick and my hands are disappearing into it. I watch them turn to bright clouds in front of me. But there is no light here, there is only empty fog and me, disappearing into it like I was never there at all.
It hurts to be alone, but I think it hurts even more to be known.
Not that I would know. There is too much to be known. Too many broken pieces to sweep up.
I can't figure out which hurts worse.
But it's fine.
It feels like I'm bouncing. Like the world around me is weightless.
When it hits me the impact knocks me to the ground. My cloud body flinches from the touch, but what can bring a cloud to its knees? That's all I am now, vapor and water, in a state of nonexistence. Another blow scrapes my arms into the ground, pulling wisps of cloud from my hands as pain roars, dark and cold through my fingers that don't bleed.
They keep asking for my voice, but I don't know if I ever really had one. How can you sing for someone without a voice?
I miss wanting to go together. I miss being able to feel the pain. I miss being weightless and not caring what everyone else thought. Because somehow you did it, and it made me feel like something to be proud of.
I don't know. I don't know.
I could never ignore the maybes, the what if’s. It's hard to convince yourself of something when you don't really believe it.
But what am I trying to convince myself of? That's a good question.
I look up at the empty clouds. At the way the fog drifts of its own accord.
I wish I could drift away like that.
6. Innocence by Madeon ft. Aquilo
We can't all live forever, you would say to me, not meeting my eyes, watching the view like it was trying to tell you something. If you had told me it was, I would have believed you.
It's only a matter of time, I think before there is nothing left to believe in, before even the innocence of childhood is sullied ground to you.
But if we forget, what will become of us?
You take a deep breath, like the words are hard for you to say.
You offer me a hand and I take it. Not because it's the right choice, not because there is nothing to lose. There is. Everything.
But because if I cannot believe you, who else is there to believe?
I see this world in shades of cream and white. In blankness, then color. I see it in beginnings and endings, in the stop and the start, the way the words are empty but the feeling is in them anyway.
We sit here, waiting for space, waiting for a silence, but I can see their words, I can see their hearts. I can see that they are not hearts anymore, but hollow shells where there was once something beautiful.
If the spark goes out, who will be there to tend the lonely flames?
You make long strokes with the paint, deep cream on an empty canvas, and you keep going, gripping the brush like it is your only tie to life itself.
The wind is blowing through a flag, torn and frayed. But we can't all live forever.
It's only a matter of time.
And he's right, you know, there really is nothing to lose, because we tread on innocence with our wars and our guns but when you have lost the innocence of a child, well, what is there left to lose?
When the brush drops from your hand you don't notice. You barely move and then you are movement, bearing your fists down on the canvas like it is your worst enemy.
You punch it until your hands are covered in paint.
I will not be their victim and I am their victim.
The paradox hurts my head. And I find myself unraveling, I fear my thread is running short.
The paint sticks to your hands in thick coats; you are the cream of a blank canvas. Empty. Waiting for someone to give you color.
7. Cruel Summer by Taylor Swift
The night air is enchanted, glittering in pastels, so close you feel it running through your fingers, liquid moonlight.
It's magical, this garden, rife with color and the feeling of summer.
You hold out one hand through the trees, to the mundanity beyond, and feel spikes of winter chill.
The trees whisper their musings to you, the flowers bind their light to you.
You let their magic, their breakable heaven seep into your skin.
Your head is steeped in euphoria and the touch of warmth spreads from you to the enchanted garden around you.
The quiet of the night glitters in constellations around you, and your hand grabs mine and it feels like we could run forever and never leave this place.
We dance with no music, you spin my hand through yours and make my body spin too.
I can feel the moonlight in the air, silvery and cool, it's mist hugging the trees and holding your hand like an old friend. I smile at you, at your shadow in the dark, at the magic playing our rhythm into a song.
I snap a photo in my head; you, hair tousled, eyes sleepy, moonlight entwined in your fingertips.
I run my hands over leaves bright with magic and feel the warmth of the garden twinkling.
I hug the tree and watch the way you move, like there is nothing in your way. Do you fear the way I think about you? Do you fear the way I care?
I do. I dread the idea of love and shy from broken promises. I fear the way you make my heart speed up and the way it feels to stand in our silence.
And maybe in another world we are scared together, but I've only ever been scared by myself, and sharing fear has always scared me worse.
I hide behind the branches and laugh at you softly, but you just keep on smiling in the rosy light of the geranium blossoms.
The creak of the garden gate cuts to the bone.
The moonlight retreats to it's rays, unravelling itself from your fingers with fleeting efficiency.
And I remember thinking, just before the winter night came back to the forest, that maybe we weren't really trying, afterall.
8. Girl Harbour by Manchester Orchestra
It's a soft rhythm, so easy to fall into. But you keep talking and not noticing.
Where do I fall here? Am I the piece that connects everything together? Or am I at the very corner, almost out of the picture altogether?
I can't decide which would be worse.
It's so cryptic already, it's so cryptic and I adore every word. I adore the way your words flow into each other and the way they make sense without making sense.
There is so much, so much to find, that I cannot seem to find anything. I piece my words together like an old puzzle, missing pieces, some chewed on, some faded beyond recognition.
I'm trying to find a way to explain, but I don't want to say the words I'm thinking because I don't want to see you shatter in the way you will.
Where do the edges end and the real world begin? It is becoming hard to tell and I am wasting time.
Your words are intense, every one immaculate. They know exactly where they are supposed to be.
I love every piece of you. I love the way you contradict yourself and how you twist the words into exactly what you need them to be. I love that you still feel like a cold drink from a mountain stream, and I love the way you play against yourself, bouncing from one word to the next; it's never the word I expect, but that makes it all the better.
So who am I? To stand by your side with my weak, meger words when yours shine so bright?
There is something about how I don't trust the truth from your lips but it thrills and excites all the same.
I would burn the world down for your voice but I could never trust you with the world because you seem to be a little bit more evil than not and how can one hand over the world to someone who will only do it wrong?
The puzzle doesn't fit together if you rearrange the pieces so how can your life fit together so well?
I don't know what I mean and I don't know what to say, because you know my faults and you know just the words that will rip me apart.
But you also know just the words that can stitch me back together again and how does one tell the difference between what you mean and what you say?
Because sometimes I can't tell whether your heart is burned or burning and I don't know if I want to know the difference.
9. Killer Whales by Smallpools
Sometimes I don't know how to think.
Sometimes I don't know how to be.
Most times I think that neither really matters all that much anyway.
I can't remember what I liked so much at first. Maybe it was the way you moved, or the way your melody never seemed to give up.
I wish I could never give up like that.
But weakness is easy for me; I was made to fall apart.
With her satin hair and easy gaze. The girl who had everything.
I never believed I'd make it out, but you were the one they all talked about, the one who went to save the killer whales and came back with a heavy heart.
What did you learn out there?
Did they tell you about the impossibilities of the world?
The hotel room is achingly familiar; the setting of an old dream, with it's peeling walls and killer whale wallpaper. With the lamps that only sometimes light up and the painted faces in my brain that only sometimes look right.
There's something about the sound, the rhythm, that enthralls.
There is only the sparkle of sunlight through dust. The air is glittering just for you; and when you catapult on the bed the dust jumps away, freed, and shines for you in the faded rays coming through a thin curtain; they dye the room in shades of pale pink.
The air is thick here, thick with broken promises and empty gestures.
What did they all say? Where did their words go when those promises fell apart?
They all think it's euphoria, it was never euphoria. It was always the melancholy of could have beens and lost opportunities.
Now what do you say to those left behind? What do you say to the broken hearted and down on their luck when a promise still hovers in the room?
That's right, there is nothing to say.
If I was a concept would you still love me? If I was the one they all spoke about, if their voices carried me across the world, would that be any different than meeting me for real?
I would yell, I would cast my flaws into words and try to tell you exactly what I am thinking. About the brokenness and the shattered glass.
Can you live with my mistakes?
Would it matter if I never really existed at all?
10. Trade Mistakes by Panic at the Disco
It's the sunset long faded. It's the way the moonlight graces your face with stunning silver. There's something about how you see that feels unattainable. Like I could run through all the mountains and all the valleys and never see the world like you see it.
The castle is medieval and the storm outside is brewing. You stand on the tallest tower, your easy smile suppressed under the weight of the coming rain.
I can't help but watch you. You seem unbroken, not like me, I'm already shattered glass, but you burn so bright, sometimes I daydream about being melded back together.
There is little room on this tower, and we must stand close together, so much so that I can feel your fire burning in your chest, my skin gracing yours as flames lick against your arms. I pull my ice heart close, and step far away from you.
Lightning flashes at us and it's so bright. It's so bright and the light is enthralling, echoing behind my eyes like a soft whisper.
How long must the world cry for us? A long time, I'd imagine.
The air around us is heavy with rain, the water clinging to the sky like a pummelling drop. I can feel it form around us, grasping the arches of the tower with it's damp.
It is something else that makes me stick my hand out, through the windows, so that my fingers come back soaked through with rain.
I let the water curl against my skin and flow down me as it runs toward the floor, pulling my fingers into fists, holding the water like I could stop it from dripping away.
You are looking at me with trepidation and I can't quite read what's in your eyes.
You are so different from the rest.
Their fire is hot, sharp. Enough to slice through you with pain so intense it might drive you mad.
But yours is softer, a burn that keeps you warm on a cold night.
I wish it was so bad, to burn like that. To burn like there was nothing to stop you. To burn with the freedom of a flame in darkness.
11. Out of Touch by Dove Cameron
It's a soft rhythm, easy, the kind that builds up and up until it all explodes.
When I wake up in the morning you are like the sun. I think I could marvel at you for eternity and it still wouldn't be enough.
The rays of light make your hair glow, but they make me shy away, scared of the day and what it will bring.
Scared of the way you look at me, scared of the way my words sound outside of my head, because they are so different, so different than what I mean and I can't figure out how to make them right again.
It's like watching love come together and fall apart. It's like coming to a dead end street, one you thought would never end. How does one grapple with the concept of forever when you know that nothing will last that long?
Because when the lights come on I will still be me, fucked up in more ways than one, and how could you not want to change that? How could you hope to brave the world with someone who is such a coward?
We would get lost, lost with each other and lost in the world, but God, I would love to be lost with you. I would love to be fucked up and out of touch and I hope my disaster doesn't scare you away.
I have that hope, that hope that it will be you forever, but how do you start believing in something you never really thought was true? How do I believe in forever when forever will never exist?
Sometimes I wonder what it would be like to watch you wake up in the morning. To watch the world come back to you in waves.
I am scared you will be disappointed when you open your eyes and find mine asleep beside you. I am scared that the heat of the moment will drive you away. I am scared that someday you won't forgive, or forget, because so far nobody else has. I am scared because I always go too far, and someday you will find that you really are sick of it.
You are like the sun. You are so bright that sometimes I find it hard to look at you. Sometimes I wish I didn't have to.