I’m Putting These Songs in My 2019 Time Capsule to Preserve Good Memories

12 Dec

2019 music recapI love Spotify. As someone who listens to a lot of music, Spotify Premium is one of the things I’m most thankful for, because it allows me to have a seemingly bottomless collection of tracks and albums at a minimal price, and it exposes me to songs and artists I might not hear otherwise because I don’t listen to a lot of radio.

Every year, Spotify does its “Wrapped” marketing campaign, where it shares with users — in easily shareable form, natch — their most-listened-to artists and tracks. It’s hard to argue with the results, since, apparently, they’re based on Spotify’s own data. And yet, every year, I have a hard time reconciling Spotify’s results with the music I think actually represents my year.

And that’s why, for the past few years, I’ve compiled a running “time capsule” playlist, curating the songs and artists I was listening to at various points in the year, or ones that represent significant or memorable things I experienced. I like recapping my year in music this way instead of waiting and compiling a year-end top-music list, because rather than focusing on a few favorite albums or songs, with this playlist, I have a better representation of what was literally going through my head all year long.

Music, after all, plays a big role in what and how we remember things. I know it does for me. That’s because we often discover or hear music in a specific context. So, the right song at the right time can help to form or trigger a memory (good and bad). When I listen to my annual time capsule playlists, my soundtracks for those years, that’s exactly what happens.

WeezyFor example, my 2019 soundtrack has songs on it to represent some of the traveling I did: “Lights” reminds me of my trip to San Francisco in February for IBM’s Think conference. I was introduced to “Welcome to Your Life” when I was in Las Vegas in July for Workday Altitude. “Back to California” reminds me of when I did exactly that later on in July, and enjoyed the (very) warm California sun while listening to “California Sun.” I added Robert Goulet’s version of “You’ve Got a Friend in Me” because it reminds me of riding the Slinky Dog Dash roller coaster at Walt Disney World, and “The Devil Went Down to Georgia” because it was playing while I rode the Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit coaster at Universal Studios, both in Orlando, in October.

John Mayer is on the playlist multiple times, but “Walt Grace’s Submarine Test, January 1967” is there specifically because, when I saw him live in Providence in July, I commented during a mid-show livestream that he should play it, and then he actually did! The Avett Brothers’ “Murder in the City” is on the playlist to help me remember seeing them live in Worcester in October, and that somehow, I snagged a seat literally front-row, center, an hour before showtime. Other artists I saw live this year included Zac Brown Band, Lukas Nelson and Promise of the Real, Lake Street Dive, Barenaked Ladies, and Hootie and the Blowfish, whose return with new music I greeted with open arms — as evidenced by their many appearances on the playlist.

Special shoutout to Yachtley Crew, a yacht-rock cover band, whose show I saw in Los Angeles with Rebecca and Ron (and Mario Lopez!) and really enjoyed. Two songs they performed that night, “Steal Away” and “Baker Street,” are on the playlist for that reason.

Me and Jakob DylanNaturally, I saw a lot of movies this year, and songs from some of them appear on the playlist, as well, including “I Got 5 on It” (from Us), “Come and Get Your Love” (from Avengers: Endgame), “Rocket Man” (from, uh, Rocketman), “To Whom It May Concern” and “Nobody Speak” (from Booksmart), “The Ballad of the Lonesome Cowboy” (from Toy Story 4), “San Francisco (Be Sure to Wear Flowers in Your Hair)” (from The Last Black Man in San Francisco), “Go Where You Wanna Go” (from Echo in the Canyon — and hey, did I mention that I met Jakob Dylan when he was in Boston to promote the film?), “I’m Gonna Live Till I Die” (from the trailer for Knives Out), “Bring a Little Lovin’” (from Once Upon a Time … in Hollywood), “Criminal” (from Hustlers), “That’s Life” (from Joker), “Collide” (from Queen & Slim), a cover of “Into the Unknown” (from Frozen 2, even though I never did see that movie),” and “Being Alive” (which Adam Driver sang in Marriage Story).

A special note about why Peter Gabriel’s “In Your Eyes” is on the playlist: It’s to remind me of the night in May when I saw Say Anything out in Worcester with Dawn, and that we got to meet John Cusack afterwards.

Likewise, TV played a big role in my year: Brandon Victor Dixon’s performance of “I’ll Cover You” was a highlight of Rent: Live, “You’re Dead” is the theme song for the very funny show What We Do in the Shadows, “No Children” appeared in the excellent final episode of You’re the Worst, “You Don’t Mess Around with Jim” and “Never Ending Story” both figured prominently in memorable scenes of Stranger Things season three, and “Are You Sure Hank Done It This Way” and “Jolene” represent Ken Burns’ epic Country Music documentary series.

Robbie Williams and Jamie Cullum One thing Spotify’s wrap-up got right was that I did listen to a lot of Maren Morris this year; her GIRL album included a number of great tracks. (I even used one of them to celebrate my first-half highlights.) Other artists who appear multiple times on my playlist this year include Robbie Williams, Alessia Cara, Jamie Cullum, Anthony Ramos, Thomas Rhett, Harry Styles, Ed Sheeran, Hozier, Hunter Hayes, Lady Antebellum, Jonas Brothers, Post Malone, James Morrison, Chris Stapleton, and of course, Bruce Springsteen and the Lone Bellow. (Wow, what a mix of artists.) Panic! at the Disco appears three times; their “High Hopes” is here because reminds me of the excitement around Pete Buttigieg’s presidential campaign.

I listened to a bunch of great cover songs this year, and not just of yacht rock music. My 2019 playlist includes versions of “Say My Name,” “Lost in Japan,” “I Won’t Back Down,” “I’m Going Down,” and “Rhinestone Cowboy,” which Bruce Springsteen performed in his Western Stars movie. There’s even an alternate and very cool version of “Love You Anymore” by Michael Buble, covering his own song. “Boyfriend” actually appears twice on the playlist; once as sung by Ariana Grande and Social House, the song’s original artists, and later in a cover version by Jamie Cullum.

It’s worth mentioning that the year ended with some fun and memorable new Christmas music by artists I’ve previously mentioned here, so I included a few of those songs.

Since I didn’t include tracks from them on my playlist, I probably should note that this year, I did only see one musical — Dear Evan Hansen, when it was touring in Boston. And when I was in Chicago, I checked out the excellent Hamilton exhibit, which added greater depth to the actual story of Alexander Hamilton, and showed how the real history differed from what was presented in the show. Both were good music memories, but not playlist-worthy.

Finally, for better and for worse, some songs this year were truly inescapable, such as “Old Town Road” and “Good as Hell.” Those songs are both on the playlist. On the other hand, I didn’t feel a need to include Camila Cabello and Shawn Mendes’ “Senorita” or the Jonas Brothers’ “Sucker.”

Anyway, you get the idea.

My 2019 time capsule playlist definitely isn’t a collection of the year’s best music, but it’s the music that will remind me of significant things that happened this year when I listen to it in the future.

Want to listen? Here it is.

What 2019 events and experiences will YOU remember because of music that was playing?

3 Responses to “I’m Putting These Songs in My 2019 Time Capsule to Preserve Good Memories”


  1. In Spite of Everything, There Was a Lot to Celebrate in 2019 | Martin's Musings - December 31, 2019

    […] saw a few good concerts, including John Mayer, Hootie & the Blowfish, Barenaked Ladies, Zac Brown Band, Lukas Nelson […]

  2. This Year for My Birthday, There’s One Thing I Want | Martin's Musings - June 7, 2020

    […] the past year, I did a lot of traveling, I got a new job, I saw a bunch of concerts and good movies, and generally, up until recently, I had a lot of fun. In spite of everything, […]

  3. When the Dust Settled, These Are the Songs That Got Me Through 2020 | Martin's Musings - December 21, 2020

    […] this year listening to them. Neither of those facts surprised me. After all, The Lone Bellow was my top artist last year, too, and Spotify named them my Artist of the […]

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