Alexa, Replay “My Life Playlist”

“Music is the way our memories sing to us across time” -Lance Morrow

Welcome back to another week! I hope you all enjoyed the Labor Day weekend with friends or family. Regardless of COVID-19, I hope that everyone was still able to observe their holiday traditions and still find time to reflect on the American Labor movement and its effects on the U.S. today. If not, there’s still time! We are extremely blessed to be able to work when others cannot due to inability, illness, or injustice. As my grandfather always said, “There’s no job not worth working.” If COVID has taught us anything, its that everyone, from teacher to surgeon to sanitation worker, is essential. We all contribute to building the basic infrastructure that holds up our country. So to all those still working in during the Pandemic, thank you.

For me, I spent Labor Day weekend outside, diligently working on my novel. It was beautiful: writing in the sun, going to my aunt’s house for dinner, and listening to music for three entire days. When I say “listening to music for three days”, I should really say “listening to a single song for three days.” It’s a habit I’ve always had; when I hear a new song I like, I play it on repeat until I know every word, every inflection, everything. This lasts anywhere from a week to entire months. In fact, there was an entire year in college where the song “Down in Flames” by Ella Vos was the only music file on my phone. Of course, that phone was from Walmart and could only hold a single song at a time but still.

When I woke up this morning, Ella Vos resurfaced on a Spotify throwback playlist. And just like that, the song that played my entire Sophomore year once again became my anthem for Labor Day 2020. I couldn’t help but smile as I realized I still knew every note in the song while night walks with Izzy, spontaneous trips to Milwaukee, and midnight tacos came rushing back to my mind. Its been more than 3 years since then, so why does it feel like only yesterday? Over the years, I’ve amassed quite a list of songs that have been the anthem to periods of my life. With each discount Walmart phone, they’ve lived and died by broken screens and nonchargeable batteries.

So, iPhone in hand, I’ve compiled a list of as many as I could remember on Spotify. Each of the songs in my “Life Playlist” have played some part in the life of Joseph Messink. Jon Bellion’s “All Time Low” brings me back to Junior year– living with 3 roommates in Pioneer Hall, stressing about research papers, and having parties every weekend. As TSYM’s “Honeymoon Phase” plays on my speaker, my mind travels back to visit the memory of an old friend, where we drank wine and danced in my kitchen in days as pure and sweet as honey. And I’m reminded of coming home from Wales, homesick and heartbroken, a year ago whenever I hear “Friends” by David Benjamin.

So I’ve managed to boil down the life I’ve lived so far to a mere 40 songs on Spotify. Of course, my life is so much more than that: there are people and experiences that cannot fit into a single song. And there are ones that, after weeks or months of being all that’s on my mind, I’ve forgotten. Maybe those songs will come back to me one day. Maybe they won’t. But I find a lot of beauty in that for some reason. Sometimes, the things that we feel define us or seem the most important are just that: things. And as time goes on, something new will come along that we can love and find meaning in. But we can find comfort, on those days when we need it, in going back to relive the memories and experiences that meant something to us once.

So what are some of the songs you’d put on your “Life Playlist”? Feel free to share with us in the comments or send me an email at!  As we all make our way back out to work tomorrow, stay safe and hopeful!

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