Welcome. A few weeks ago, I wrote about the release that songs like Taylor Swift’s “All Too Well (Taylor’s Version)” provide. I asked for your catharsis songs, the tracks that help you process big emotions, and you delivered. We’ve compiled the songs you sent into a Spotify playlist — check it out. The emails you sent accompanying your submissions were often cathartic themselves. Here’s a sampling.
“Lost my aunt in May and my mom in July,” wrote Elaine Jones from Atlantic City, N.J. “Patti LaBelle, live in New York, singing ‘You Are My Friend’ held my fragile tears of grief gently. Life as I knew it will never be the same.”
Kate Lauderdale from Annandale, Va., is finding release listening to “big anthem songs” like Indigo Girls’s “Land of Canaan” and “Prince of Darkness” on her way to work. Linda Watson in Madison, N.J., said that “Together Again” by Janet Jackson “makes you want to dance, and a little dancing always makes me feel better!”
For Mark Miller-McLemore in Brentwood, Tenn., it’s Neil Young’s “Harvest Moon” that does it: “This song has such a steady beat and lovely shuffling, swing. It’s an ode to long love, which we all need to sustain ourselves in tough times,” he wrote.
Led Zeppelin’s “Ramble On,” with the “burst of the chorus after the build of the intro” provides catharsis for Megan Schade in Brooklyn. She wrote, “Trust me, leaves are falling all around (hear that leaf blower going all day during Zoom meetings?); I’ve smelled the rain (as much as possible through an N95), felt the pain (years since I’ve hugged family) and I wish like heck my life once again had the spontaneity so I too could take flight on a whim, with the autumn moon lighting my way.”
And Norah Blackaller from Downers Grove, Ill., wrote: “My catharsis song is Springsteen’s ‘The Promised Land.’ The harmonica launch. The gutturals. The solos. And the lyrics! I vividly remember driving to the hospital in the days my father was dying, playing this song, singing, crying and then pulling myself together and heading to his room. It always makes me cry a little, and it reminds me of the joy of being alive.”
Changing the subject.
I wondered, could I find a way to know when the best days were coming and really feel them as they happened? So I tried declaring a best day in advance. Even if it felt ridiculous, this effort to make the ordinary feel extraordinary usually worked. Mundane experiences felt special when I marked them as such. Staying up talking in a living room until too late at night or going for a weekend run through a park in the sunshine felt as wonderful as I had hoped it would.
From “You Can Make Any Day the Best Day of the Year,” by Lindsay Crouse.
We’re collecting your best of 2021. Send us your favorite things that you watched, read, listened to and otherwise did to pass the time this year and I’ll include them in an upcoming newsletter. You can write us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Include your full name and location, if you please. We’re At Home and Away. We’ll read every letter sent. And of course you’ll find more ideas for leading a full and cultured life — wherever you find yourself — below. I’ll see you on Friday.