cruel feb, a no nonsense late-winter playlist

T.S. Eliot insists with remarkable authority and that April is the cruelest month, but I think I must beg to differ, offering instead February. February with its grey cliffs of despair, its long sidewalks to somewhere, its repetitive days, its biting wind, its parallel parking and boredom and worry. At least, that’s the February I’m having, sprinkled with some lovely things too, of course. Cruel does not mean awful. I’ll be honest and say that it has been a hard six days, a bad week for myself and a lot of people I love, framing February in a harsh light. I’m hoping for a change, a burst of something, a little green shooting up from the ground, but I fear we’ll all have to wait till March. It’s okay if February is just February with nothing green, a straight horizon, steady and harsh. “Here is no water but only rock.”

The cruelest of months (and the best of months too) beg music, some soundtrack to walk through the days with. So this playlist, my February music, is melancholy, mixed with bursts of hope, little sparkles of songs that beg courage and dancing where the sad songs beg swaying, moaning, sniffling self-indulgently. It’s a self-care playlist if I’ve ever made one, akin to fancy yogurt and looking at j-crew catalogues in the bathtub. Listen to it on a long walk, the one you need to take every day or every week, the one that feels like a slog. Listen to it while you sit in your chair wondering what to do next, or while you try to work, or while you cook some eggs, or while you look out the window. And when the happy songs come on, bob your head, tap your foot, sing along, open your eyes. Don’t be stubborn, be light. And I’ll do the same.

  1. Leave the Light On by Marissa Nadler
  2. Margaret Downe by Aidan Knight
  3. Here Too Far by Beta Radio
  4. Let It Breathe by Water Liars
  5. Hollywood by Tobias Jesso Jr.
  6. Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us Now by Starship
  7. For You To Be Here by Tom Rosenthal
  8. Re: Stacks by Bon Iver
  9. Woman Like Me by Paleo
  10. You Are Your Mother’s Child by Connor Oberst
  11. Little Green by Joni Mitchell
  12. Middle of my Mind by Tom Rosenthal
  13. If It Don’t Work Out by Anthony D’Amato
  14. Make Your Own Kind of Music by Mama Cass
  15. Normal Song by Perfume Genius
  16. Broken Chair by Chris and Thomas
  17. Life on Mars? by Seu Jorge
  18. Architect by Manchester Orchestra
  19. Mine by Spirits of the Red City
  20. These Days by Nico

Find the playlist here if you’re a Spotify-type person. Or cobble it together on your own. Mix and match. That’s cool too.

And, if nothing else, take three minutes and dance and sing to “Make Your Own Kind of Music.” A very good way to brighten up cruel February.

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