Remember sitting next to a friend in the library and sharing earbuds to introduce them to a new song? Or hearing something unfamiliar at a party and immediately looking up the lyrics to save it to your phone? Since the days of easily experiencing music with others are gone (for now), the music beat decided to make up for some lost opportunities by holding a virtual listening party last week. Writers were asked to bring a love song to share with the group over Zoom and then chat about what they thought. Here’s what happened.
— Katie Beekman, Senior Arts Editor
**Editor’s Note: This transcript has been edited and condensed for clarity.
Katie Beekman, Senior Arts Editor: Who wants to go first and introduce their song?
Madeleine Virginia Gannon, Daily Arts Writer: My song is “I’ve Heard that Song Before.” It’s an old sort of ’20s jazz song performed by Harry James, who was a swing trumpeter, but it has vocals with it and the reason I like it is even though it’s not inherently romantic in the sense that it’s talking about heartbreak or talking about falling in love, it has this sort of deep, familiar, comforting nostalgia. You’ll hear in the song that the main lyrics are: “I’ve heard that song before,” and I thought, as music writers, that would evoke a warm feeling because we all know that sense of listening to an album or a song and thinking, “We know that, that’s familiar.” I think there is a certain sense of romance to recognizing a song and a familiar tune, and it certainly has a very romantic vibe, I think, from the old-style instrumentation in jazz.
Kaitlyn Fox, Music Beat Editor: It’s refreshing to hear older music from when people would have a variety of real instruments. Nowadays, some artists can’t afford to bring in anything outside of what their band members can play. I was thinking about that when I was hearing the song, and it was nice.
Gannon: Also, I swing dance, and this is the sort of song that you would swing dance to, so it also has that human companionship element. Someone who knows how to dance to this style of music will know exactly what steps to do — it evokes a very romantic memory.
Drew Gadbois, Daily Arts Writer: With songs like that, the recording equipment is older and there’s this little hazy pop to it. It is kind of hypnotic and it creates this almost wistful sort of atmosphere that is really inviting.
Beekman: Does anyone want to go next?
Gadbois: I can probably go next. When I was thinking about different ideas of what love is and what love could be I was thinking of this very whimsical, kind of childlike quality that’s fully joyful. So I kept coming back to this song, “Summertime Clothes” by Animal Collective. There’s almost a lost in time sort of aspect to being in love with someone or just having a moment with someone and I think this song expresses it really well.
Gadbois: I’m not going to lie, I hadn’t seen the music video up until this point and it was a lot more horrifying than I thought it would be, but I also think it shows that there’s a point at which you can love someone so much it’s crazy. You feel like you’re going insane. I think that the lyrics express that just absolute heightened state.
Beekman: I really liked that. I think the lyrics that stuck out to me were, “I want to walk around with you” and then at the end it continues, “with you, with you, with you, with you.” It sounds so simple, but especially with all the other stuff going on in the song instrumentation-wise, it stands out. I think those lyrics are a really good encapsulation of being so enamored with someone you just want to take a walk with them.
Gadbois: Yeah and there’s another line about just frolicking in a fountain and that’s all they’re doing, but you hear it and it sounds like someone kind of running around in water.
Gannon: I really liked the song. The whole time I had the most vivid imagery of an indie coming-of-age movie set in the summertime. It’s like a first love, but you’re about to move on with your life so you don’t know what to do with it. And like Katie said, “I just want to walk around with you.” I think it’s a really well-chosen song for such a specific feeling of growing up.
Fox: That’s not a genre I would have thought of when picking a love song, but it totally makes sense. I really appreciated that the lyrics are pretty simple, but the music is so intense, so it’s a weird contrast.
Gadbois: There’s a physicality, I think, that ties together a lot of Animal Collective’s work. There’s a simplicity to what they’re talking about, but a lot of it gets fleshed out through what you’re hearing. It’s funny, you mention coming-of-age too because this song came out in 2009. So it did come out at that age when you start to discover music like that and it feels so fitting.
Nora Lewis, Daily Arts Writer: So I chose “Do You Remember” by Jill Scott because when I think of love songs, I gravitate toward ’90s R&B. I like the narrative style of a lot of ’90s R&B and this song, in particular, is a reflection of a childhood love and how it’s grown over the years, which I think is really sweet.
Beekman: Another great choice. To me, that felt like a sunny afternoon drive home on the school bus.
Gadbois: It’s interesting you say it’s sunny, because I felt the exact opposite. I was thinking about a moonlit walk under street lights. I think ’90s R&B production has some of the most mysterious and alluring sounds. It’s insane because it immediately sucks you in and you have to sway your head. It’s so good.
Gannon: I feel like I lost time listening to that song because I was so hypnotized. It completely took over every one of my senses. I was suspended while I was listening to it and then when it ended it let me go. I was out of it for the whole time, in a good way. It was comforting and warm — I felt enveloped by the music.
Lewis: I feel like it’s a good mixture of what Katie and Drew said. I think it’s supposed to be a reflection on a childhood love, so Scott reflects on the past, which is the sunny, childhood part, and she sings about where they are now, like they are catching up on a nighttime stroll.
Gadbois: Regardless, it’s definitely a warm feeling. I think you’re totally right and I don’t think of a nighttime stroll as anything other than warm as well.
Beekman: To finish the party, I chose a country song: “Just to See You Smile” by Tim McGraw.
Gadbois: There’s an awesome rhythm to that that I really enjoyed.
Gannon: I thoroughly enjoyed that. There’s something about country music and the instrumentation of the fiddle and banjo and the vulnerable vocals that make it feel very “every man.” It feels more relatable than the average song just because it feels so pared down musically. It feels as if someone is just sitting there on their porch, singing about seeing you smile. I thought it was a really great romantic song, probably one of the most vulnerable and emotionally accessible of the songs we listened to. Mine was very old-fashioned and Drew’s song evoked an intense emotional nostalgia. But I feel like the Tim McGraw song is one that anyone of any musical taste could relate to.
Lewis: I’m not really like a country fan generally, but I feel like the word to describe the song is jovial. It’s very upbeat and fun and it works well as a love song. Like Madeleine said, anyone can kind of relate to it, which is nice.
Beekman: Does anyone have anything to say about our choices overall?
Gadbois: I think they reflect the music beat entirely.
Gannon: I think the songs make a lot of sense. Love is different for everyone, it’s not just one thing. There’s a lot of different ways to love and a lot of different kinds of love so I think it makes sense that none of our songs are very similar.
Beekman: Well, thanks for coming to the party, y’all. I hope you had a good time.