I had a rough day at work on Thursday. Many of the students are at a point where they just don’t care. They don’t yet have the maturity to understand that they need to do some work in order to be successful in school or in life. So, as a consequence of that, they are completely lost in class, and they can’t tell me the main idea of what we’ve been learning all week even though they literally should have been writing it in their notebook at least once a day and using it on their homework. (You know, the homework they didn’t do.)
I was sitting in my classroom, looking at the music on my phone, trying to figure out what to listen to while I graded papers during my prep period. My prep is the second to last period of the day, so I had one more class to go after that. I came across a playlist with a noteworthy title: “Listening To A Hug.”
I made this playlist, but I didn’t coin this title. Someone who I used to know from Carbon Leaf‘s online fandom did. In 2004, when Carbon Leaf was first touring nationwide and I was very active in their online fan community, they recorded and released a song called “Let Your Troubles Roll By.” The song has regularly been on their live set lists ever since, usually played toward the end of the show. Another regular on their fan message boards, we’ll call her “Naos,” wrote something about how she loved this song. “It’s like listening to a hug,” she said.
For a few years in the middle of the last decade, I made a lot of friends through Carbon Leaf’s online fan sites, and I met some of those people in person during my 2005 travels. Some of them I am still friends with today. Naos, however, is not one of them. One time I was bored online as I often am, I messaged Naos on AIM to say hi, and she replied something like, “Don’t you ever have anything better to do than message people online?” We never spoke again. Thanks for showing me your true colors.
But, even though I haven’t talked to her in a decade and have no desire to, what she said about listening to a hug stuck with me for many years. Several years later, I was listening to Let Your Troubles Roll By, and I thought about this, and I thought about other songs that have felt that way to me. So I made a playlist of such songs, and I called it “Listening To A Hug.” I hadn’t listened to it all the way through in a long time, but I rediscovered it a few days ago when I was having a rough day at work, as I described above. And I listened to it, at least as much as I could until the period was over and the students came back. And I was much more calm for the last class of the day.
Some of the songs on my Listening To A Hug playlist are well-known classics by some of the greatest artists in the history of music. But some are by lesser-known artists. Some are down-album tracks by well-known artists. Some were big hits for a brief time that have mostly been forgotten. (Interesting side note: I was curious exactly when I first put this playlist together, because a few of the songs were by artists well known at the time I made the playlist but haven’t really followed since then. The original file on my computer says it was created February 18, 2013. Exactly five years ago today. Weird.) Also, normally when I make playlists like this, I try not to use the same artist too many times, and with a playlist of this length I would normally not use the same artist more than once. I kind of violated that with two songs with Michael Jackson on vocals, but one of them was from early in his career with the Jackson 5, and the other was the last song he completed in his lifetime, so they really don’t sound all that similar at all.
I should also point out that I left Christian music off of this playlist. I was really into Christian music from the mid-90s until the mid-2000s, and I still listen to Christian music occasionally. But I already had a lot of comforting playlists with Christian music. I wanted to try to do one with secular music just to see what it would turn out like.
Here’s my playlist. I know I have a very eclectic taste in music, I don’t expect all of you to like all of my songs, but maybe you’ll find something here that is like listening to a hug for you too. (I tried to use legal official videos and songs wherever possible. If any of the links don’t work someday, let me know.)