It probably won’t surprise you to learn that I had a radio show when I was in college. It was called “Oblique Records,” I believe, in a nod to my desire to share songs that were off the beaten path. I wasn’t as interested in the rock & roll standards that my male counterparts played on their shows. Sure, I shared a few, but the focus of my show was gathering everything else I found.
It was also an interesting exercise in bravery: I was hidden behind a microphone, not showing my face publicly at all, but I still felt nervous each time it hit the top of the hour and I was on the air. I guess there’s something intimate about playing the music you like. You wonder – hope – that other people will enjoy it as much as you do.
All this is to say, I still have all of my old radio playlists. The other day I remembered a song from one of them that I played on my very last show: “Litany (Life Goes On)” by Guadalcanal Diary. They were an alternative rock band from the ’80s. I still don’t know how I found that song to begin with.
I hadn’t listened to that song in years so I put it on. And wow. It was a kick to the heart. I was suddenly, vividly transported to that final radio show: the small station, the beeping machines recording everything, the bookshelves full of vinyl records. And because my show on Sunday nights, the late evening May light was just slipping away over the hills of campus, washing everything in dull reddish-pink.
Beyond that, too, was a sense of melancholy: leaving college, the show, and everything the show meant to me, behind.
Yet: “I, I see life/Like a mirror/I, I see life/So much so clearer.” The song itself is about life continuing, evolving – “an ever-changing song.” So perhaps it was fitting that I put it on that last playlist. My life is an ever-changing song and I’m still learning how to play it.