I’ve been sending songs for six months now. Beginning at the very end of October that year, the world fell apart. Lengthy letters in the form of artists through the ages. Well, in the form of a shared Spotify playlist, actually. Very modern love of me.
In the essence of being completely honest, because I’m not trying to lie to a whole bunch of strangers, it might be a bit presumptuous (alright, okay, borderline delusional) to claim love between the lyrics. We don’t even know each other, not really. I mean, we barely speak. It doesn’t matter that I feel like I’ve known them for a thousand lifetimes.
All I’m trying to claim is the way an exchange of songs can provide more connection than a summer romance in a year of utter isolation. Because the act of sending songs back and forth for six months, it underscores your life. And you can feel it underneath. Like the day I received a seven-minute instrumental with a four-minute guitar solo in the middle and I imagined the way you were in flow. Maybe on a long drive, content in your thoughts. Or the time on the subway I needed comfort and I opened up my app to find a new song that week — “I Will Survive,” an excellent cover by Cake. The way we fell into a rhythm. Two songs from you, two from me, one song from you, maybe three from me. Sometimes weeks would go by. Sometimes only 24 hours. Art imitating life, and a new song at the end of the day to curb the heaviness of it all.
The way unspoken rules began to take shape. No duplications of artists, no matter how many times I was tempted. Covers are okay, but keep it interesting, please. Merry Christmas, but then back to business. For the love of God, Carly, no Taylor Swift. I lived for the fantasy I made up in my head.
I saw glimpses of your life, your story. I gave glimpses of mine. Songs that have stood the test of time. Songs for nostalgia. Or simply because they made me want to dance. Songs for birthdays and holidays. A remastered version of the Beastie Boys’ “I Don’t Know” when the world around me stopped making sense. Two songs for a moment of honesty, and then back to gray. A conversation in melody. The back and forth of letters without the paper and pen. No explanation needed, just a silent knowing: “I am here, too. I see you.”
So next time you want to send a letter or a text, send a song instead. Let it tell a story about you. Who you are, what you’re made of. Let it take shape. Like the ink from a quill on the tattered paper. Let it mean something. Oh please, let it mean something.