Only to be Listened to With One Candle Lit

BY EMMA WESTCOTT//

It rained today. Today was a really good day. It was a day that smelled good, felt crisp, and made me wish I could capture the feeling it brought in my chest and let it stay there beyond the time after the sun had set. I’ve written before about how some moments don’t seem like they need music, but that I am a firm believer in every situation having a soundtrack. Maybe this is a moment you hadn’t even thought to separate from all of the other moments, one you hadn’t given a chance to stand on its own and shine. I’ll tell you how to do just that: wait until it rains, open your windows, and turn off all of the lights aside from one lit candle.

There’s something so incredibly whole about listening to music in the dark. Maybe it’s because the sound can take up all the space the light has left, fully encapsulating you in a blanket that knit yourself as you skip through your playlist. It is warm and soft but also jarring, no matter how quiet the song, because you have no other distractions to pull your attention away from the music. The candle, however, is lit for two reasons. The first, is because it’s raining and we don’t want to have that harsh feeling in the darkness ruin the feeling of fall rain, so we light a candle to give us just enough darkness to fall into, but just enough light to keep our balance. The second reason is simply because candles smell good. So, light your favorite candle (I’ve chosen “Vanilla and Birch”), and let me try to put this cozy moment to music.

So, this playlist will take us through a variety of genres, artists, and feelings. To start, Gerry Cinnamon floats over us with “Outsiders”. The minimalist-style production on this track is what makes it perfect for this moment; Cinnamon’s great taste in acoustic guitar (which spans the entire album) strikes you right in the chest and forces you to pause and listen. Following the first track, we have “Jealous” by Labrinth. Like I said, we love variety here. Labrinth’s voice is like soft, raspy syrup that delivers a terribly heavy address in way that doesn’t hurt as much as it should. Otherwise, I don’t think I could stomach this song without slipping into some kind of abyss. The next track is instrumental; it’s titled “Connor” by Zara Villaumbrosia. It is 52 seconds of fingerpicked guitar that makes me think of someone writing a love letter (or maybe a heartbreak letter? do those exist?) to an unsuspecting partner while rain drips down their window. Pink Floyd comes to us next in the form of “Shine On You Crazy Diamond (Pts. 1-5)”. I’m a huge believer in listening to an album in order from beginning to end, and you’re almost forced to do that with this glorious 13-minute sensation of guitar and strings. The first time I heard this song on vinyl was another-worldly experience (which sounds extremely pretentious, I know but the lights were off, and I was laying on the floor. I mean come on, it doesn’t get more ambient than that).

Ewan J. Phillips follows Pink Floyd with “I Wish I Was the Moon”, which makes you feel exactly how it’s titled. It’s honestly a feeling I didn’t know existed before, and after, it’s one I feel quite often. As our intermission, we aptly have “INTERMISSION: fLoWer” by ZAYN, which is an Urdu-sung piece from his first album. The translated lyrics are almost as beautiful conceptually as the piece itself is sonically, and it’s the kind of song that you want to catch in a jar like a firefly so you can admire it whenever you want. As the smell from you candle floats across your room, on top of it lies “Be My Mistake” by The 1975. It brings you dark turquoise and traffic and the smell of rain but in the least stressful way possible. I actually like the kind of sad this song brings. Following The 1975, Bazzi sings “I Don’t Think I’m Okay”. A constant guitar pattern underneath his voice plucks you through the track; whether or not you can relate to his lyrics on any level, they sit heavy on your chest, almost snuffing out the candle. 

The second to last track, which might seem out of its chronological place based on how I describe it, is “The Good Side” by Troye Sivan. I say that because this song feels like a wick catching flame, the beginning of a new flame’s dance. The beginning portion of the song is constant and soft and lightly golden. As it progresses, the later portion turns into melted wax pooled around the edges of the ceramic (which is why it’s at the end of the playlist). It’s muted but still present, not yet gone.

It also leads us perfectly into our final track, which is “For Now” by Laura Wurster. This song is the most underrated part of lighting a candle: blowing it out. This track is the synchronous experience of watching the smoke billow up from the newly killed flame, while still being able to smell it’s sweet (or musky or floral or spiced) but transitory gift to the world. As the soft acoustics accompanying Wurster’s voice fall away, and the smoke dies away somehow, and the rain decides to lighten outside the screen of your window, you are ready to embrace the darkness that now fills the room, because everything feels simultaneously heavier and more comfortable.

Playlist:

1. Outsiders by Gerry Cinnamon

2. Jealous by Labrinth

3. Connor Zara Villaumbrosia

4. Shine On You Crazy Diamond (Pts. 1-5) by Pink Floyd

5. I Wish I Was the Moon by Ewan J. Phillips

6. INTERMISSION: fLoWer by ZAYN

7. Be My Mistake by The 1975

8. I Don’t Think I’m Okay by Bazzi

9. The Good Side by Troye Sivan

10. For Now by Laura Wurster

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