It’s been an emotional week. When, on Monday night, I heard that Robin Williams was dead, I surprised myself by feeling real sadness for this guy I hadn’t known. Because, of course, it felt like I had known him, and many of us felt that way; as I watched responses pour in on Twitter and across the internet, it was clear that we all felt like Robin had a special place in our lives, and none of us expected to lose him.
This loss that we’re collectively experiencing is just one of many emotional upsets that are, I’m sure, happening to us each individually. As human people, our lives are filled with events that elicit sadness, joy, nostalgia, fear, love, etc, etc, etc. One thing that can help as we deal with these Life Moments, though, is music, and I’ve recently developed a theory that for every emotional moment in your life, there is a Paul Simon song to help you get through it.
Paul Simon: like Robin, a dude who has had (and continues to have) an incredible, decades-spanning career (his first Grammy came in 1968, for Simon and Garfunkel’s album Mrs. Robinson), and who has subsequently been a huge part of all of our lives. We might not take note of it regularly, but this voice is one that plays in our heads when we’re not paying attention, and should be present when we’re happy and when we’re sad. Here is a playlist to soothe your soul.
Disclaimer: some of these songs include Garfunkel. Can you blame me?
The Moment: The end of a casual relationship.
The Song: “You’re Kind”
I once hooked up with a guy for a few weeks, and then one morning, I woke up at his house, and I knew it was over. I could tell he knew it too. No hard feelings – we didn’t talk about it, we just chatted over breakfast, hugged goodbye, and went on with our lives. This song is for that nice (but maybe bittersweet) moment.
The Moment: Dancing with friends.
The Song: “Late In The Evening”
On a hot night, have some friends over. Let the drinks flow. As everyone gets tipsy, clear a space in the living room and dance to this song.
The Moment: When love comes to an end
The Song: “I Do It For Your Love”
We’ve all been here guys: real love and then real heartbreak. Feel it.
The Moment: Your wedding day.
The Song: “Kathy’s Song”
Although I can’t deny the genius of the moment when April Ludgate married Andy Dwyer to the strains of “April, Come She Will” on “Parks and Rec,” I’m personally choosing this one for any future weddings I may participate in.
The Moment: Drinking wine in a new apartment and looking back on old times.
The Song: “Still Crazy After All These Years”
You know that night in a new apartment when you don’t have any furniture yet, and you’re exhausted from a day of moving, and you get takeout and a bottle of wine and sit down on the bare floor to eat your dinner? And everything feels full of possibility, but also a little sad; after all, you left a place to get to this one. But you have big plans for this new space — who knows what will happen here? This song is for that night.
The Moment: When you’re feeling really, really, really good.
The Song: “Kodachrome”
Did you just get a promotion? Or is it just a beautiful Friday afternoon and you’re free for the weekend? Either way, play this.
The Moment: When you want to get a good night’s sleep or are putting a baby down for a nap.
The Song: “St. Judy’s Comet”
I don’t have a baby, but if I did (when I do? I don’t know, let’s not get into it) I would play this song for it (or he or she or whatever) for sure. Until then, I will play it for myself when I’m sleepy, or just feeling quiet.
The Moment: A big birthday.
The Song: “Have A Good Time”
You should go to bed, but a voice in your head says — oh, what the hell. Have a good time.
The Moment: After a particularly good shag.
The Song: “Wednesday Morning 3 A.M.”
Ah, the post-bone anthem. This is more specifically for a non-relationship bone. And if you really want your experience to match the song, you have to commit a crime of some kind … but you don’t have to get that into it. Just play it after a good bone and call it a day.
The Moment: During a particularly nostalgic drive home.
The Song: “Homeward Bound”
If you’ve been away for a while, this is your song. Maybe that means away from your parents and your childhood home, or maybe it means away from someone in your adult life who you deeply miss. This should be played in a colder season, while leaves or snow fall.
The Moment: When you really need reassurance.
The Song: “Bridge Over Troubled Water”
Life is not often what we expect, and sadness is a real part of our experience. So here is a comfort: this song will always be there.