In Your Neighborhood

The play lists that we live by

We carry our music with us, a soundtrack of our lives, coloring the world around us

Photoshopped image by Richard Asinof

The world defined by the music play lists we listen to.

By Chloe Moers
Posted 10/15/18
Music is the soundtrack of lives, played over and over as a way to help us see how the colors of the world resonate around us and within us.
How does one develop the skills to learn to listen in 10 different ways? As Bob Dylan once posed, “I’ll let you be in my dream if I can be in yours,” what is the best way to share play lists? Will politicians running for office ever be asked to share their play lists publicly? Can sharing play lists serve as the entry point in pursuing conversations and convergence between generations?
When I write, I have my play list to compose stories by, six hours of music that begins with “Acknowledgement” by John Coltrane and ends with “Fourth of July, Asbury Park” by Bruce Springsteen.
In between is an eclectic mix that drives me forward through the rigors of writing, including “Mountain Jam” by the Allman Brothers, “Nutty” by Thelonious Monk, “Boogie Woogie Waltz” by Christian McBride, “A Case of You” by Joni Mitchell, “In My Life” by the Beatles, and “Step Right Up” by Tom Waits.
I love the music I listen to when I write, but I have to admit that my soundtrack is stuck in the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s. Growing up, my generation carried transistor radios and then boom boxes everywhere we went, where the music was shared in public, very much a reflection of the evolution of technology.
Today, music often seems like a private conversation, a subtext rarely made transparent. Much ado is made when a failed studio recording of Frank Sinatra attempting to sing “Lush Life” by Billy Strayhorn is made public, shared, tweeted, and retweeted. My impulse was to respond with tweets sharing Coltrane’s version, or Rahsaan Roland Kirk’s version, of the song. That would be a conversation with convergence.

Editors Note: The strong positive response by ConvergenceRI readers to Chloe Moers and her story about her neighborhood, an outgrowth of a workshop at the 2018 Health Equity Summit, led me to suggest that she write another piece for the newsletter, providing a younger lens through which to see, listen to and share the world around us, part of my own efforts to keep learning to listen in 10 different ways.

Her story shares the play list of music that she lives by, what she describes as the medicinal quality of music. It is a reflection of how much of our world is now colored by the music we listen to, carry with us, and connect to with our phones, through ear buds.


PROVIDENCE – It is 8 a.m., I am stepping outside of my door with my bag on my hip, my keys are already in the door ready to be turned and my earphones are almost dragging on the steps not quite ready to be put in, not until I turn around and breathe one large breath.

I take a turn and face the street; a bird chirps and flies right above me, startled by the sudden movement and sound of me beginning my morning in the outside world, away from the confinements of my room.

I plug in my earphones into my phone and press play on the play list that is most needed for the day.

My phone is away and my eyes wander the street in front of me as I begin to walk uphill with soft music playing in my ears, soft enough to be able to still hear the birds and allow the birds to sing with the music, with neither overpowering the other.

On winter and spring mornings, the song, “Your Hand in Mine” by Explosions in the Sky will play first. In the winter this reminds me of gentle life that is soon to emerge as life will defrost with time; in spring it reminds me that this rebirth has finally come and life is emerging yet again with pink petals engaged in my surroundings.

A time of hard transitions
But now is fall. Fall for me has always been a time of hard transitions and hardship, time speeds up and new expectations are expected, whether it is from school, from my friends, from myself, or the coming of the cold.

In fall I feel as if I am a squirrel, frantically attempting to collect enough nuts and enough warmth to survive the winter. And, like the seasons, my music changes.

In fall I need to gather inspiration, confidence and a new strength, one that can take on even the coldest and harshest of times.

This causes me to listen to “Om Nashi Me” from Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros to start off my journey to the bus and one mile from where I begin my walk to school.

This song brings humor and confidence to my step and keeps my head up high. I listened to it for the first time when I was filled with inspiration and was painting a beloved painting of mine, and so this feeling has stuck to it.

I also found humor through sadness when I looked up the meaning of “Om Nashi Me” when I believed it must mean something profound, but I was pleasantly surprised to find there was no true definition.

My hammock to be successful
In fall, many times I feel down and lonely. I feel as though the pressure is on me to be a super human and to think of everything that could possibly be under the sun. And with this I walk down Eddy Street from Point Street all the way to Public Street, listening to “Johnny Boy” by Twenty One Pilots. This song comforts me in a way that makes my day more productive and makes me stronger than I believed. It is my support, my hammock to be successful.

Before sophomore year of high school, music was not as crucial to me in the mornings. It was an optional way to start the day, never that important. Then I changed schools, I went to Classical High School, and there I was stressed in a new kind of way.

I felt caged, imprisoned and dehumanized. I felt that who I was got cut off as soon as I stepped through that doorway, not allowed to step back outside for hours.

It deeply affected me; and through that experience, I found a new use for music, a very medicinal use for it. I listened to “Excavate” by Macklemore. This song was irresistibly powerful and it gave me the will and the energy to fight for myself and not lose myself in meaningless work. “Can you remember your intention when they question yours?” “If you don’t love life, the check won’t correct yours.”

The lyrics from this song helped to get me to where I am today. They allowed me to let go of my stress, anxiety and anger, and through this I have learned the power of music.

What I learned from my music in the mornings is that life and love are not about what is in your surroundings, it is not about who did this and who did that or what happened yesterday or about anything physical. It is about where you are now and who you are and how you will make your time here worthwhile.

Chloe Moers is a high school student at The Met School.

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