I was planning something entirely different for this date. But the workload and general tiredness got hold of me, and I decided to keep my tradition of summing up a year with a usual playlist.
And here is the first problem: of course, my birthday is in October, which means that this year did not consist entirely of pandemic and lockdowns. But however hard I try to remember anything I can’t force myself to write about last fall or winter – as if they have completely blurred away by things that happened afterward. It feels just as if trying to recall a dream – some details come to mind but you are never sure. Thankfully, I can look into my Spotify playlists and at least partially restore what I have been listening to last year.
This brings us to another problem: my saved playlists help only partially, because I cannot recreate my emotional connection to these songs. I know that they were loved by a different me, in another life – and I admire them from a distance, without bitterness but with a small hint of curiousity. We all shed our skin so many times over years that probably each epoch, each age preserves yet another version of ourselves. I am sure that the tumultuous events of this year forced many of us to leave some of our personal traits behind and adopt the new ones.
But what I do remember is the silence of the early spring, the first days of the lockdown when I would walk out into the our backyard and only hear the wind and the birdsongs; I remember eagerly waiting for the first green grass, for the first flowers, for the first warm days. I remember feeling sick of reading the news and feeling grateful when seeing the signs of love and care coming from our music heroes. I remember the lighthearted plans and hopes being swept away, the dreams readjusted; and at the same time, false anxieties and fears vanished and replaced with things that mattered most of all.
In these quiet weeks I experienced a strange mix of fear and serenity; never have I valued small things, such as going for a walk or taking a nice stereo so highly. All my days were so similar that even a tiny shift, a little change would feel like a huge step. We were clinging to each other, we fell in love with the ballet and watched a record number of operas. We talked and walked and exercised.
I cannot say that this period was highly productive for me; I wish I could have done more. And yet I have learned quite a lot of things – in music, mastering new genres that always felt so distant (I wrote about it in my essay on Bejart Ballet); and of course, delving into an abundance of rock songs, thanks to the weekly streamed shows by Tyler Warren, a multitalented percussionist of the Queen and Adam band. Half of my current tunes are from his amazing acoustic sets.
Funny how I intuitively choose songs to find some relief – at this certain moment, it feels so random – but later these tracks merge into a picture that tells you more about yourself that you’d probably know. In the acute phase, I was holding onto the Micro Concerts by Dr. May who was tirelessly supporting his fans through the first months of lockdown; in summer, when everything loosened up a bit, I went through a variety of songs, with a distinct preference of Elton John’s hits; and as our numbers started to rise again, I felt the need to go back to Beatles and Russian rock, music of my early teen years.
And here you go. This is how my 2019-2020 playlist looks like for today – it has big gaps, and to be honest, I wish I could be more festive. I am hoping for a better year ahead, and constantly praying for my loved ones to be safe and healthy. I am so thankful to my family, friends, and my music inspirations that kept me sane. Let us cling together and keep on smiling.
Love and peace –
Katya Neklyudova, October 2020