10 Songs that Explain My Year

With all due respect to the many (many) mixes I compiled for The Amplifier this year, the most important playlist I made in 2023 was the one my sister Chelsea and her now-husband Andrew asked me to make for their wedding party. I was beyond honored, and if I do say so myself, my most ingenious move was including my own parents’ wedding song, “Here, There and Everywhere.” That’s what you get when you call upon a professional playlister. (Listen on YouTube)

Ah, 2023: The Year of the Eras Tour. I went in May with my friend Lauren; not to brag, but we have been besties for even longer than Taylor and Abigail have. This is one of those songs I reached for this year when I was really going through it, emotionally speaking, and I needed a little therapeutic wallowing. When she played it live, I hollered along until I was hoarse. (Listen on YouTube)

In July, I went to Toronto on assignment, pulled an all-nighter to file a story, and then arrived at the airport only to be told that all the flights from Toronto to New York had been canceled … for the next three days. If you flew anywhere at all this summer, you might also recognize this experience as being “very 2023.” So for about 72 strange, liminal hours, I found myself, quite literally, runnin’ through the Six with my woes. This became my personal theme song: I am now convinced it is about walking the length of Spadina Avenue while on hold with an airline. (Listen on YouTube)

The first rule of travel, at least for Amplifier readers: Always listen to the local radio stations. While on vacation in Belgium this fall, my boyfriend and I found a Brussels station that we played constantly in our hotel. It featured a mix of standard American “classic rock” and whatever the French-speaking version of that format is. Among our discoveries were Laurent Voulzy’s bonkers, bilingual “Rockollection” and this bouncy, absolutely infectious 1966 bop by the French singer Jacques Dutronc. Now every time I want to remember how much fun we had in Belgium, I listen to this song. (Listen on YouTube)

Call the title of this song an … aspirational mantra for my year. I’m currently working on the manuscript of my first book, and man, is it difficult to carve out the time to write a book while working full-time. Or doing, like, anything else in your life. Hats off to any and all who have pulled it off — I look forward to being among your ranks soon. But this was a phrase I sometimes hummed to myself on the many days when I wasn’t able to sit down and work on the book in a more traditional sense. I know every day I’m subconsciously working on it, too: Mulling over research, collecting unexpected bits of inspiration, making connections that will someday emerge on the page. Oh yeah, and I caught one of Elvis Costello’s shows when he played a residency at the Gramercy Theater this February, too. That was awesome. (Listen on YouTube)

Deliver the (news)letter, the sooner the better! Hey, you know what else happened in 2023? I started writing The Amplifier. Thanks to each one of you for reading, listening and helping to create such a vibrant community of music lovers. Here’s to 2024. (Listen on YouTube)

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