I Made You a Mixtape
Music unlocks the most earnestly cringey parts of me. I’m prone to staring wistfully out of public transport windows with my earbuds in, living out a transitional scene in a coming-of-age movie. I am terrified of most forms of social media but worship the intimate corner of the internet that is the “friend activity” feed on Spotify. I unabashedly believe that the act of making a playlist is the ultimate expression of love. Despite my corny relationship with music, however, I don’t turn to toothache-inducingly sweet “feel good” music when I’m in a dark place. Maybe it’s the remnants of my middle school angst, but hearing “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” tends to do nothing but fill me with resentment (no disrespect to Ms. Clarkson). On the other hand, while I have felt tempted to listen to The Smith’s entire discography while struggling, I have come to realize that stewing in sad songs is a kind of musical rumination for me, and it usually makes me feel worse.
Enter this playlist. These songs don’t fall prey to the empty positivity of a Hallmark card or the soul-sucking darkness of screaming into the void because their messages aren’t filled with one-size-fits-all platitudes but written with one specific person in mind. Whether these artists wrote their songs for a friend or for themselves, their lyrics sound intensely personal to me, like the writing you would find in a letter. I hear a sincere type of love in these songs. When I am at my lowest, what brings me comfort and hope is the love I share with the people in my life. The first five songs are written from the perspective of a friend who so badly wants you to feel better. “Alewife” and “The Greatest Gift” are songs of gratitude for the power of that friendship and support. “Please Don’t Die” and “Flirted With You All My Life” are promises to keep going. The last four songs are songs of hope, songs that remind us to appreciate the little things and to take care of ourselves. Together, these songs make me think of all the times in my life when my friends lifted me up and helped me get to a place where I could care for myself. When I listen to these songs while in a good place, I think about my desire to be there for other people and the importance of checking in on your friends. All in all, I hope these songs inspire you to accept help and love when you need it and extend it to your loved ones in turn. I listen to music so frequently that sometimes songs fade into the background, morphing from the pieces of art that they are to something resembling white noise. When I take a moment to really listen, however, I remember that the artists who wrote these songs are real people, experiencing real pain and joy and love and turning those experiences into something beautiful. The genuine spirit behind these songs reminds me of what I value in life, so I really hope you enjoy them!
Click HERE to listen to the playlist
Trigger Warning: Some of these songs – Black Dog, Please Don't Die, and Please Stay, Flirted With You All My Life – include sensitive content related to suicide.
Lisa Morton is a junior at Cornell University studying human development with a minor in health inequality studies. She is passionate about reducing health disparities and bridging access to healthcare. She believes a large part of this work is de-stigmatizing and promoting mental wellness, something she was lucky enough to contribute to during her time as an intern with Reflect in the summer of 2021. Besides equitable health systems, Lisa’s favorite things in life are good books, hot cups of tea, and sharing music with friends.