A few weeks before Poppy was born, a very good friend had her first child at the same hospital where I would be delivering. When announcing his arrival, along with the key details – weight, length, etc – she noted the song that was playing when he was born. Apparently our hospital had CD players installed in the room for families to use, and her husband had made a bunch of playlists so they would have good music to listen to while she was in labor.
Suddenly, I was on a mission. I needed to burn some CDs so we could have tunes while I labored. Screw cleaning the baseboards, man, my form of nesting was all about atmosphere. I assembled some favorites, started paying attention to some music blogs, let Pandora lead me to new stuff, and I put it on a cd I optimistically named “sleepy playlist.”
Even as I was doing it, I recognized that I was being a little ridiculous. Interestingly, though, having a playlist of some of my own low-key music was one of my favorite parts of the whole birth experience. It made the hospital room, where John and I hung out for so many hours, feel a little more like ours. I laughed at my own optimism when “Just Breathe” came on during the height of my pre-epidural labor. I still get a little teary when I remember John dancing with Poppy in his arms to “One Crowded Hour” when she was about an hour old. He still sings her the song when he puts her to bed at night. We listened to the same cd at home a lot in the early days, trying to get through the witching hours, encouraging her to treat songs of lost love as adequate substitutes for more traditional lullabies.
Scent memory is known to be a powerful thing. Highly distinctive scents can bring us back to our previous selves: flowery perfume to grandma’s closet, baking pumpkin pie to Thanksgiving at mom’s, the smell of a fresh pencil eraser to the first day of school. For me, sound memory is similar – the first Sleigh Bells album reminds me of gritting my teeth through nausea-inducing train rides to work in the first trimester of my pregnancy with P, “Closer to Fine” brings me back to sitting under my lofted bed in my freshman dorm room at 2am, trying to learn the harmony; I hear the theme from Schindler’s List and I’m right backstage at my high school’s production of The Diary of Anne Frank; “Vineyard” by Jackopearce and I’m on a beach in Michigan drinking illicit wine coolers … I could go on.
And now, much like the smell of blueberry Lip Smackers brings me straight back to my sophomore year of high school, hearing the introductory notes of many of those songs from the Sleepy playlist brings me right back to the terrifying wonderfulness of Poppy’s early days. They’re her songs, in a way. And I love that.
So needless to say, I am taking the task of assembling the new baby’s playlist very seriously. It will doubtless include some repeats from the first playlist, but I also want to find some new stuff to include – stuff that will always be linked in our minds to the early days of our second (and likely last) child. This is where you come in. I’m attaching Poppy’s playlist here, as well as what’s on the new one so far, for style reference (with some links, in case you want to check them out, but not links for everything because, well, I’m lazy.) We tend to like folk, singer-songwriter, alt-country stuff, and for this purpose in particular I’m probably going to take a pass on aggressive dubstep drops, but I’m otherwise open to anything.
Poppy’s Sleepy Playlist:
- Tip of the Tongue : Donnis Trio
- Beloved One : Ben Harper
- 3 a.m. : Gregory Alan Isakov
- Harder than Easy : Jack Savoretti
- One Crowded Hour : Augie March
- Father and Daughter : Paul Simon
- Runaway: The National
- First Day of My Life : Bright Eyes
- Here’s Looking at You, Kid : The Gaslight Anthem
- American Tune : Paul Simon
- Nothing Left to Hide: Abbie Gardner & Anthony Da Costa
- The Promise : Tracy Chapman
- Just Breathe : Pearl Jam
- Paperweight : Joshua Radin & Schuyler Fisk
- Thought I’d Have Learned : Band of Annuals
- When You Say Nothing At All : Alison Krauss
- Northbound 35 : Jeffrey Foucault
- Welcome Home : Radical Face
New List in progress:
- When You Are Still : David Wax Museum
- Cover Me Up : Jason Isbell
- Come Pick Me Up : Ryan Adams
- Emmylou : First Aid Kit
- The Wind : Cat Stevens
- You Never Need Nobody : The Lone Bellow
- Dazzling Blue : Paul Simon
So: any suggestions? Anything new (or old) that you’ve been really loving recently? Or any cool sound memory stories you’d like to share? I find this topic endlessly fun.