Two weeks ago, I finished the film “The Worst Person in the World,” an artistically brilliant romantic drama directed by Norwegian film director Joachim Trier. Released in 2021 at the Cannes Film Festival, the movie ends with an extremely vulnerable scene accompanied by Art Garfunkel’s 1975 cover of the Brazilian song “Águas de Março,” which translates to “Waters of March.” Ever since I watched that scene, I’ve become entranced by that song — from the lyrics to the instrumentals to the sense of peace it brings me, everything about the track is magnificent. The song is so good that it has inspired me to create a short playlist consisting of soothing, enchanting songs to listen to as we enter the new month of March. Jam to this playlist when the stress of finals becomes overwhelming or as the anxiousness of spring and new beginnings creeps in.
“Overgrown” by James Blake
The first track off of Blake’s 2013 album “Overgrown,” the track of the same name delivers lyrics packed with vulnerability and regret. Blake sings, “I don’t wanna be a star / But a stone on the shore,” revealing his distaste for mass public attention. He wishes to be a contributor to the music space rather than an artist constantly in the spotlight, and the entire record has a wintery feeling to it; the tracks give me chills during each listen, and the instrumentals have a distinctly icy feel to them. The track “Overgrown,” however, sort of feels like the ice melting away after a long winter, as the first rays of sun peek out from behind the clouds. The crescendo of the drum instrumentals near the end of the track feels like a transition out of the isolating winter and into the promises of spring. The Grammy-nominated producer ends the track with, “And I want you to know / I took it with me / That when things are thrown away like they are daily / Time passes and the constants stay,” an indicator that the seasons are indeed going through changes, and yet it is up to us to decide what we want to bring into spring.
“Woods” by Mac Miller
A track off of Mac Miller’s posthumous album “Circles,” “Woods” presents itself as a sort of auditory embodiment of making it “out of the woods,” an expression used to describe the act of pushing through very difficult times to open your heart and soul back up to receive the world’s love. In this track, Miller appears to be stuck in the “woods,” which represent a toxic relationship he is eager to escape. Miller sings, “Yeah, things like this ain’t built to last / I might just fade like those before me.” He can clearly see the end of the relationship yet deeply struggles to find his way out. The track’s ending is reminiscent of that of his song “So It Goes” off his critically acclaimed 2018 album “Swimming”; both songs feature incredible instrumentals from composer Jon Brion, the man behind the soundtracks of “Lady Bird” and “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.”
“A Greater Love” by Yves Tumor
An artist I’ve had on heavy rotation during the month of February, Yves Tumor is an absolutely incredible experimental singer from Miami, Florida. His 2020 album “Heaven to a Tortured Mind” is pure genius as each track brings something new to the table. Every time I relisten to this album, something new stands out to me. One of my favorites off the album, “A Greater Love,” features groovy beats and subdued instrumentals, creating a funky listening experience. Tumor sings, “Summer, Winter, the Fall has changed, yeah / Don’t you ever feel like the weather brings change, yeah, change?” Seasonal changes set off a variety of changes, most notably emotional ones, and the sudden rise or fall in temperature coupled with the changes in the passage of time tends to knock us humans off our track. Sometimes, this change is the very thing our bodies need to find our footing again.
“A_X” by Dean Blunt & TYSON
Dean Blunt, an artist I’ve adored for many years, never disappoints with the beats he produces. I discovered “A_X” only recently, and immediately upon listening to the track, I was swept off my feet. The background vocals from TYSON are angelic, and these vocals combined with Blunt’s fresh instrumentation deliver an amazing track that has strong replay value. Blunt sings, “Try to control where I go with my mind / Nothing in here, got plenty of time / Only yesterday, I said to myself / The things I’m doing ain’t good for my health.” The British singer-songwriter emphasizes the importance of being in control of one’s emotions, not allowing the mind to wander into dangerous mental territory and taking the time to recognize when the mind is clouded with toxicity.
“Wurli” by Dominic Fike
The penultimate track on Dominic Fike’s absolute masterpiece of an album, “What Could Possibly Go Wrong,” “Wurli” reveals itself as a painfully accurate retelling of being used in a relationship. Fike sings, “This is not love, I’m a glorified doorstop / Stickin’ my foot out for you / And that’s not all I would do.” The realization that you are viewed as merely an object of convenience to the one that you love is a difficult thing to go through and is an experience that is familiar to me and so many others. As I’ve gotten older, however, I’ve realized how crucial it is to recognize and remember your worth in romantic relationships, so I leave you with these words of advice: If something is not serving you, step away. As the months of spring approach us, it’s crucial to leave behind the things that do not positively contribute to our energy in the winter. Revisit these things as you see fit, but put your focus on moving forward. Embrace the new season in your life.
Listen to the full playlist on Artsweek’s account on Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/user/bmvn6uhwqthskcts54zg0iwqx?si=44a7bfe962de432d
A version of this article appeared on pg. 11 of the Mar. 3, 2022, print edition of the Daily Nexus.