My Soundtrack

I decided to put together a playlist for my birthday, to indulge myself and to entertain my friends so that they could join me in listening to these wonderful songs. After all, that’s what I love to do most of all, to take it all in and write about music so that a particular emotion could be preserved and shared.

I have always been longing for a community where I would could feel confident and at ease; a group of people united by similar love, interests, and passions. And that’s why I want to share my next video: it is a combination of the communal singing, where the audience IS a performer, and a wise and charismatic vocalist. In this video, Patti Smith is not a rock star but rather just a lead singer; she and the choir perfectly support and supply each other with the emotion of unity that is summarized by her gesture towards the crowd “I commit myself to you!”

In the finale Patti raised her hand and said “Use your voice!” And for me, this appeal became a key motive for last couple of months, and in a way, for the whole year. I feel that in this tumultuous time we all need to use our voices, “to rule, to vote, to love.” To speak our thoughts. I want to use my voice, I want to be braver and explore the possibilities of writing in foreign language; I want to speak to people and brainstorm new ideas, accepting my limitations but not retreating. “Because it feels so damn good”

This inner restlessness that I feel very often these days shows itself in songs I choose to listen to; they make me a bit anxious and moody; but they also encourage me to move on and keep on trying. “No Time Left for You:” is my Spring song; in its tune I hear thawing creeks, cold April winds, and last snowfalls; it brings new hopes but also the feeling of pain because of realization that time flies too fast.

My Autumn song epitomizes everything that I love about British rock, with its fast flowing rhythm, sweet acoustic guitars, and the mood that I cannot even put into words. It is as subtle as it is elusive – the song ends before you actually grasp its meaning, leaving a deep impression in your heart, and making you want to replay it again and again. Because you are yearning to stay there, in your own element.

I admire the hidden melancholy of many British rock songs, even the upbeat ones; I always hear their subtle sadness. It speaks to my own vision of world without a hint of depression. I feel that when talking about “Indian Summer” you cannot help but be a bit sad, of things that we lost, of things that pass no matter how strongly we want them to stay.

British rock music is and has always been my blessing, and this year I had the greatest gift of seeing my beloved band live. Oh this unforgettable feeling of sudden happiness that I felt when one gloomy December morning I looked into my phone and saw that Queen and Adam were coming to our area. The wait was long, the expectations huge, and the level of excitement overwhelming. Although almost three months have passed since this magical moment, I am still smiling and savoring this moment of triumph that we shared with all our big family of Queen fans.

Watching the Canadian premiere of “Bohemian Rhapsody” film with the festive crowd of Queen fans, standing in front of Freddie’s house in London, meeting my dear stereo friends, attending my first QAL concert, and finally, spending a long and happy day on the Great Lawn of Central Park waiting for Queen and Adam to come on stage – all these experiences made me feel like Alice in Lewis Carrol’s book – all these things and people that I only saw and knew in the virtual reality of social media, suddenly became real.

When thinking of Brian and Roger, and about Queen magic in general, I keep on returning to this video that I truly can play over and over again without being tired. Everything I love is here: an audience so intensely looking at the band, Roger, so strong and powerful, singing his beautiful song, with the intonation and gestures that make me understand it much better; the cosmic sound of Brian’s guitar; and the silhouettes of two old friends, whose friendship, both personal and musical, lives on, from “April Lady” to the recent Rhapsody Tour, when they sang one of their first songs on stage.

After the last chords of “God Save the Queen” fade out, when the show is over, and the lights are on, they always put on “Heroes” by David Bowie, a song that accompanied me for the last two years. It keeps coming back – sometimes as a classic Bowie track, sometimes as a clip from Freddie’s tribute concert of 1992… It also comes through Roger’s amazing performance with the SAS Band. And finally, it comes through one of Choir Choir Choir sessions that I attended. We could be heroes just for one day.

Katya Neklyudova, 2019

Rock On

Last Year’s Birthday Playlist (in Russian)