Hey hey, we’re 5 days away from the official start of spring and I walked to campus today through a blizzard! Get with the programme North America, winter is old news now! I won’t lie, although I really have loved my winter experience here, there is a little part of me that is missing the crocuses and daffodils of English springs. Canada doesn’t seem to be that fussed about the leaves and general greenery making a return any time soon though, it’s instead a bit preoccupied with dumping a foot of snow on us overnight. Sigh. I’m sure I’ll miss this… one day.
The past couple of weeks have been pretty busy. Even though I now don’t have the insane basketball training schedule keeping me occupied (note: there is still training available every day of course, it’s just more chill), the deadlines have been piling up, my goodness me. I’m feeling the brunt of 3 third year classes for sure at the minute. I’ve just handed in a big term paper for my Atheism class, alongside proposals for my Holocaust and American Intellectual Thought research essays. On top of that, Emily and I have been Stressing. Mainly, about final year. There’s so much to think about; dissertation, special module selections, internships, career options, society commitments, applying for Welcome Team – it’s a lot to consider. This being said, I’m trying desperately hard not to live too much in the future, because the present is pretty cool. Actually, I’ve recently been realising just how much of my experience here I am going to miss. This has been compounded by the fact I’ve also recently realised I have less than four weeks of class left. What. the. hell. Where has this semester gone.
In the meantime, I thought I’d give myself a break from essays for the evening and write something a bit different for this blog. Mainly, a rundown on the songs and music that have been getting me through this year abroad. The conversation started when Emily and I were discussing choosing a track to accompany our One Second Everyday videos, and how hard it was going to be picking just one to sum up our year. Fortunately, I had a ready-made shortlist to hand to cover all scenarios…
(I should note, I actually do have an ‘Ottawa Playlist’ on my iTunes and it really does include all of these tracks. Please don’t judge me for it.)
For the 8:30 Treks to Campus
- Suddenly I See – KT Tunstall
I love this song. It’s just from that genre you know? The Natasha Bedingfield ‘Pocketful of Sunshine’ and Corinne Bailey Rae ‘Put Your Records On’ genre. It makes me feel like I’m 14 years old and at my best friend’s house for a sleepover, watching Easy A and Ella Enchanted and just generally being young and silly and having fun (wow that sounded nostalgic). It is my perfect ‘wake up and get the hell on with your Monday’ song, and that’s why it makes a great trek to campus tune. I really enjoy my 10-15 minute walk from my apartment, even if it’s often wading through snow, because being outside and having an excuse to listen to good music is always a good way to start the day.
Fave lyrics: And she’s taller than most/ And she’s looking at me
For the Reflective Moments
- Home – Phillip Phillips
Okay so on my sadder days I will admit this song has actually made me cry. The lyrics are just so appropriate it hurts sometimes. I think Emily did literally tear up when I played it to her. It’s simple and lovely and I really enjoy gentle guitar sometimes and it reminds me to take a moment and be proud of myself for making Ottawa my home, successfully so. And that I really am not alone. Argh I’m getting emotional just thinking about it.
Fave lyrics: The trouble—it might drag you down / If you get lost, you can always be found / Just know you’re not alone / ‘Cause I’m gonna make this place your home
For the Glum Days
- Bad Day – Daniel Powter
So although they don’t tend to feature in this blog, boy oh boy do I have my down days. Days when classes are mind-numbingly dull and I don’t eat particularly well and I maybe mess up in a social situation and embarrass myself and practice doesn’t go to plan and I just get home and flop dramatically on my bed and think “thank GOD that’s over.” This is the song for those days, to belt along to while I try and do something to cheer myself up.
Fave lyrics: ‘Cause you had a bad day / You’re taking one down /You sing a sad song just to turn it around (I think that’s my goal in singing this song actually)
For the Sunset Walks Home
- Bloom – The Paper Kites
The Paper Kites had to make an appearance on here because I saw them!! Live, here in Ottawa!! I listened to their album solidly for a full two weeks before going to the show, and as it turns out the song that introduced me to them is still my favourite song of theirs. This is beautiful, and just makes me think of summer days and BBQs with family friends, it’s just that chill. When they performed it in Ottawa, they turned all the lights out, asked people to leave their phones off, and played in the dark; it was quite an experience.
Fave lyrics: When the evening pulls the sun down / And the day is almost through / Oh, the whole world it is sleeping / But my world is you.
For the Early Morning Training and Friday Night Home Games
- Cheap Thrills – Sia
This song just makes me want to DANCE oh my goodness. That beat, then that secondary beat that comes in a few bars later. I have hardly had much of a clubbing experience here, but the social times I have had have usually been with my team. I listen to this to pump me up for training, and our DJ inevitably played this during warm-ups before home games. Plus, it was the song stuck in my head the entire evening after I scored my buzzer beater, when I was floating on cloud 9 for most of the night. It’s just a good vibes track.
Fave lyrics: Come on, come on, turn the radio on / It’s Friday night and I won’t be long
For the Canadian Experience
- Bobcaygeon – The Tragically Hip
So this is a bit of a curve-ball of a song. For the uninitiated, The Tragically Hip are a Canadian band that no-one has heard of outside of Canada, but Canadians (especially those of my parents’ generation) stereotypically are big fans of. And I do understand, their success within Canada has been phenomenal, and the lead singer Gord Downie (who is currently tragically dying of cancer) is an inspirational guy, and he has done an awful lot for First Nations awareness. I decided as part of my Canadian Cultural Education I needed to get on board and download some of their tracks. Unfortunately, most of their music is a bit too rocky for me – but this song is an exception. It’s a story of a song, there’s a narrative (a supposedly gay narrative which makes me even more happy) that builds, and some lovely lyrics. Supposedly, Gord Downie picked ‘Bobcaygeon’, some random town in Ontario, for the song because it was the closest place name that rhymed with ‘constellation.’ I approve of that thinking.
Fave lyrics: It was in Bobcaygeon, I saw the constellations / Reveal themselves, one star at time
For the Homesick Times
- Rivers and Roads – The Head and the Heart
They happen. It’s okay. You have your sad moment where you just really really really want a hug from mum and dad or to have your best friend round (even just for a few hours! that would do! teleport technology, where are you), and then you pick yourself up and head out to class or practice or to the shops or to some touristy trip with your friends. This is gentle but builds really effectively throughout, and I absolutely love playing an acoustic version of this on the guitar.
Fave lyrics: Nothing is as it has been / And I miss your face like Hell / And I guess it’s just as well / But I miss your face like Hell
For the Peaceful Study Sessions
- On the Nature of Daylight – Max Richter
I have an enormous amount of classical music on my iTunes, mainly because it’s the only music I can study to (and because sometimes I like to look out of rain-streaked train windows and pretend I’m in the final dramatic sequence for a film, anyway-) Last semester I was hooked on ‘Solomon‘ from the soundtrack of 12 Years A Slave, but I was actually not in a great place a lot of the time I listened to it, so now it makes me sad. Max Richter’s contemporary piano masterpiece however is just as soothing and I found it when I was feeling more positive. I first heard it in a scene from the film ‘Arrival’ (which I CANNOT recommend enough) and fell in love instantly. Give it a listen, you won’t regret it.
For the Weekend Road Trip/Saturday Night Dance Party/Remembering Canada Times
- All-Star – Smash Mouth
How do I explain my love for this song. I realise it’s now taken on a bit of a meme status, but I have honestly loved it since about 2005. We had it on CD (actually, we had, and still have, the Shrek Soundtrack in our family car) and it was just one of those songs my brother and I knew all the words to, and knew when it was coming up next in the tracklist. It’s ridiculous and so bloody cheery and an amazing song to drunk-karaoke-sing along to and it’s also been stupidly relatable to this year abroad? References to the weather getting colder, ice skating, everything being insane and confusing, being an All-Star and getting “your game on”, needing a little change, “you’ll never know if you don’t go”, “so much to do so much to see”, I could go on. I love this song, and I don’t care what people think, it’s going to be my year abroad song. Always.
Fave Lyrics: Literally the whole song. Fight me.