Songs for a fresh start.
THE DIXIE CHICKS – “Wide Open Spaces” – as described by annabel ostrow
2017 is going to need The Dixie Chicks. And for those moments in 2017 when we all just want to run to the mountains/the ocean/a place that is not full of the exhausting antics sure to come, this song will guide the way, as it always has.
CHVRCHES – “Empty Threat” – as described by som-mai nguyen
I started 2016 alone with this song, on a cold bridge in a foreign country. In a silly, superstitious way, it’s been a sort of personal anthem for a year in which I changed more than I had in any other I can remember. I’ve tried to grow into someone who deserves the song’s thesis: “look, I don’t owe you the details, but I’m not sorry, and I’m here now — shiny, brave, and changed.”
DAVID BOWIE – “A New Career In A New Town” – as described by nick burns
A fine cut from Bowie’s finest period, this song and its wah-wah harmonica has a special tentative, hopeful feeling. Bowie had just moved to West Berlin from California after years of crippling drug addiction and was trying to make a new start amid the bling and bleakness of Cold War Berlin. It’s a timely song for the start of 2017, originating as it did from the edge of darkness and after a long period of darkness. And for those who have only ever heard Bowie’s pop fare (“Changes,” Ziggy Stardust, etc.) it’s a good entry point into his best mature work: the famous Berlin trilogy of Low, Heroes, and Lodger.
ANGEL OLSEN – “Always Half Strange” – as described by ena alvarado
Life dilates like the pupil of an eye whenever I listen to Angel Olsen’s Half Way Home. Anything halfway alive seems to grow immensely in importance. I gape in awe at the human sneeze, the human tear, the human knee, and perhaps even the human nail. The LP—her first—takes its title from her sixth and, in my opinion, best track, “Always Half Strange.” I have always listened to the song while on long, transcontinental or transatlantic flights. Maybe that is why I associate it with change and renewal.
AVI BUFFALO – “Overwhelmed with Pride” – as described by jazzmin williams
Fresh starts are all about freedom. Freedom from the baggage of your past. Freedom to do whatever you want. Avi Buffalo captures this feeling in their song “Overwhelmed with Pride,” which features jangling guitars, hazy harmonies, and a soft brass section. The lyrics are a perfect anthem for new beginnings:
“And these birds seem so fucking free / They’re nothing compared to me.”
JOHNNY NASH – “I Can See Clearly Now” – as described by tess michaelson
mmm white sheets on a hot day, wake up feeling gooood with the sun soaking a light blue room. Another day of life!! Filled with possibilities like the dirty hands of berry-pickers and a walk downtown for vanilla ice cream. A kind of song made of sun and the soft kiss of a new love affair.
MANDY MOORE – “I See The Light” – as described by claire kim
I recently watched Tangled (i know, a little late), and fell in love with this song.
Rapunzel envisions a new beginning full of romantic love with Flynn Rider and freedom, singing this song under the lanterns that are sent out into the night sky on her birthday from the castle. One of my favorite disney songs, almost on the same level as Tarzan’s “Son of Man” & Little Mermaid’s “Part of Your World.” This song is a perfect way to start off the new year.
NONAME – “Sunny Duet” – as described by emily zhang
Whenever I listen to this I feel like I’m eavesdropping. I get such a sense of nostalgia from something entirely unfamiliar. Noname’s words are so quick and generous. Maybe the fresh-start-ness of this song comes from the way she looks back at everything and acknowledges looking back, putting parentheses around it all.
NINA SIMONE – “Here Comes the Sun” – as described by angelica jopling
Nina Simone’s cover of The Beatles’ classic delicately allows us to enter a new year, a new quarter, and a state of mind. The power of Simone’s voice is exerted in gentler tone that eases you into the yellow mood of the song, as the twinkling energy of her staccato piano solo lifts you into a lightness that mimics the nature of the lyrics. This song has the capacity to soften, move, inspire, and warm any person who stumbles upon it.
ARCADE FIRE – “Wake Up” – as described by shannon daniels
Every time I’ve listened to this song, I’ve been in a car watching the road unfurl before me. Every road trip is a rebirth in cities, land, and travel itself. The song is a reminder to wake up to what’s ahead in the windshield and what’s quickly passing by.
JOANNA NEWSOM – “Bridges and Balloons” – as described by kevin garcia
There’s a peculiar quality about Joanna Newsom’s music that I associate with transient experiences – long layovers in unfamiliar airports, lonely bus rides on rainy days, the tense excitement that the new year brings. This song reminds me not to worry, and that all things, both good and bad, shall someday pass.
THE XX – “Say Something Loving” – as described by anthony milki
Every now and then, the softness in Romy and Oliver Sim’s voice that usually leaves me frustrated makes perfect sense with a Jamie xx instrumental. Their vibe is cleansing, and Jamie’s imprint is all over the recent singles. This is my favorite track the band’s ever put out.
SONNY AND CHER – “I Got You Babe” – as described by katie nesser
At the end of 2016, it felt paramount to appreciate the seemingly small number of legends who escaped the year unscathed. One of my personal favorites is Cher, whose social media presence and performance in this duet with her then-husband Sonny Bono leave me feeling like a new person, ready to take on the world, Donald Trump, and the haters, all with a refreshing eagerness to love and be loved. Cher gang or die, defend Cher at all costs.
Image from here.