9 inspiring songs for the new year

Happy new year! I’m going to be relatively brief today, because I’m starting the year 2024 with the cold that everyone in New York seems to have right now. But isn’t that always the case when we set high expectations and lofty resolutions for the new year? Life quickly intervenes to throw some annoying obstacles at us at the right time.

That’s what the playlist I created for today is all about: welcoming these next 12 months with optimism, grace, and even a little humility.

But first, here’s a story about 2023.

Every year, most of the goals I set for myself (the word “resolution” silences me) have to do with cultural consumption. For the past few years, I’ve been meaning to read my age in books (a number that stubbornly keeps increasing!), and last year I also tried to watch 200 movies. Although certain social networking sites probably distractionsListing my books on Goodreads and the movies I watched on Letterboxd helped me stay on track as the months went by.

But December was frantically busy, as it always seems, and I found myself obsessively planning my downtime over the holidays to hit those noble but ultimately meaningless numbers: If I spend the entire day of the 26th reading a novella and watching a movie every night from now until New Year’s Eve

However, during that last week of the year, something clicked and I loosened my grip. I started the book longer and more challenging than actually sought read instead of the easier-to-finish novel that seemed like an obligation. One of the nights I had planned to watch a movie, I accepted a spontaneous invitation to meet up with some old friends. My year was much richer for these two small decisions.

What I’m saying is this: set high goals and also be kind to yourself. I’m oddly proud to report that I didn’t meet my 2023 goals: in the end, I logged 198 movies and read one less book than I intended. So what? My decision not to kick it into overdrive at the end of the year doesn’t negate all the movies I discovered in 2023, nor the 30 books I finished. It just meant that I had also added a pinch of perspective to my annual purchases.

Plus, ironically, it looks like I’m about to spend a few days on the couch with ample opportunity to catch up on some movies. Be careful what you wish for.

I hope that today’s playlist, which includes songs from the zombies, solange and fiona apple, among others, inspires you to welcome the new year with the right amount of optimism, reflection, and self-forgiveness. Who knows? Maybe it’ll even give you your own personal theme song for 2024.

Listen on Spotify while you read.

A perennial classic, and with good reason. (Listen on YouTube)

Fiona Apple tackles self-improvement with gusto (and with a little wink) on this upbeat piano number from her 2005 album “Extraordinary Machine”: “I’ve got a plan, a demand, and it’s just begun/And if you’re right, you’ll agree.” agreement/Here comes a better version of me.” (Listen on YouTube)

“Ashes Grammar,” the ambitious dream-pop effort from Philadelphia band A Sunny Day in Glasgow, is an album I first fell in love with when it was released in 2009, and I’ve carried that comforting wisdom with me ever since. from the chorus of this song: “Fall forward, feel the failure.” (Listen on YouTube)

“Change this feeling beneath my feet,” sings a restless Kathleen Edwards on this standout track from the Canadian singer-songwriter’s breakthrough 2011 album, “Voyageur.” “Change the sheets and then change me.” Who among us hasn’t been there? (Listen on YouTube)

I was recently revisiting Solange’s 2016 triumph, “A Seat at the Table,” and this song, which tries to get to the deep root of why we’re so hungry for superficial change, sounds as profound as ever. Plus, if you ever need four and a half minutes of Zen, you know you can always watch the music video. (Listen on YouTube)

The new year is often a time to take a hard look at mortality, reevaluate bad habits, and perhaps address ourselves in the voice of Paul Simon’s doctor as featured in this 1972 tune: “How many nights do you think you can do the what do you want?” I have been doing?” (Listen on YouTube)

“Will there be another time? Another year, another desire to stay? Nico sings this moody dirge, sounding as omniscient and steady as the passing of the seasons. Although it first appeared on her 1981 solo album “Drama of Exile,” “Sixty Forty” was also used to memorable effect in the 2021 Joanna Hogg film “The Souvenir, Part II.” (Listen on YouTube)

In this candid, freewheeling reflection from her 2015 album “Apocalypse, Girl,” Norwegian musician Jenny Hval considers the passage of time, the nebulous definition of “self-care,” and the pressures of self-improvement, ultimately arriving at her own ironic conclusions. (Listen on YouTube)

While it’s easy to roll your eyes at all the “new year, new me” exhortations that surround us in early January, there’s also something to be said for sincerely embraced new beginnings, as John Lennon enthused in the joyous first “Double Fantasy” theme. .” (Listen on YouTube)

Here it comes: a better version of me,


Listen to it on Spotify. We update this playlist with each new newsletter.

“This Will Be Our Year” Song List
Track 1: The Zombies, “This Will Be Our Year”
Track 2: Fiona Apple, “Better Me”
Track 3: A sunny day in Glasgow, “Failure”
Track 4: Kathleen Edwards, “Change the Sheets”
Track 5: Solange, “Cranes in the Sky”
Track 6: Paul Simon, “Run That Body Down”
Track 7: Nico, “Sixty-Forty”
Track 8: Jenny Hval, “That Battle Is Over”
Track 9: John Lennon, “(Just Like) Starting Over”

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