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Serenity’s Playlist: Albums for a Quarantine, by Aaron Drake

Writer, Editor, and Library Assistant, Aaron Drake shelters in place with his beloved playlist. This post is part of our "My Home Library" blog that features essays by writers who are sheltering in place during the Covid-19 pandemic. 805 is proudly published by the Manatee County Public Library System. We hope this blog will help Manatee County residents show off their home libraries, find comfort in books, and feel a connection to the library during this difficult time.


Recently I found myself tuning into some of my favorite albums to accompany me on my daily run when I noticed how these albums have popped up again and again during trying times throughout my life, giving me some much-needed calm and inspiration.


Besides the respite I find through my assortment of music I now can carry around with me in my pocket on my iPhone, there’s something deeper still I realize as I dig through the albums I’ve listened to since I was a kid on a variety of mediums (cassette to CD to iPod to now iPhone). Whatever the medium, there’s a nostalgia there that’s as sweet and distinctive to me as seeing my siblings after long periods apart or experiencing a chilly winter blast when I haven’t lived in a snowy climate for decades.


Especially now since I’m in between moves, with most of my personal items in storage, I understand even more how much attachment I have to my music; the songs I've come to know so familiarly in my life and the permanence of emotions that has become intertwined with my collection of records. For me, there are albums that I could say make up the soundtrack to my life, perhaps even shedding some insight into helping me deal with tough situations—like the one the world is faced with right now—with just a little bit of courage.


For starters, the catalog of Shania Twain has definitely been a constant in my life from about 8 years old to pretty much present day, so it is actually tough to choose a specific album in particular to single out. But Come On Over seems like a strong choice (one in which I know every word to every song, and could probably pinpoint moments in my life each reminds me of).


The next few selections that come to mind are from artists I was introduced to through my older siblings while I was growing up. Being the youngest of four kids, my sisters and brother were listening to popular music that I probably otherwise never would have been introduced to – but they clearly made their indelible impact. Jagged Little Pill by Alanis Morissette, Yourself or Someone Like You by Matchbox Twenty, and later on, the compilation albums Mirrorball by Sarah McLachlan and Sheryl Crow and Friends (Live from Central Park).


Next up is one singer-songwriter I happened upon a live performance of when I moved away to college who incidentally proved to provide the soundtrack to an important time of growth in my life that I love going back to and listening now, remembering how it felt to grow and change. So, unsurprisingly I guess, Toby Lightman's Little Things stuck with me.


Shortly before I graduated I came across a song by Snow Patrol, which made me fall in love with the band, and dig further into their archive of albums, eventually falling in love with most of their music. I was ecstatic when the band came out with a greatest hits, entitled Up to Now.


Lastly, two albums which I discovered after my move out to the West Coast, Los Angeles by way of San Francisco. These two I undeniably listened to on unending repeat while finding my way out West, Wild Hope by Mandy Moore and 21 by Adele.


As music has always been an important part of my life, these albums are but a small part of me, but ones I have no doubt I will continue to press play on during times of uncertainty, whenever I may need a shoulder to cling to for a little comfort, or an old friend to offer a few words of wisdom.

Aaron Drake is a Library Assistant at the Palmetto Branch Library in the Manatee County Library System. He enjoys watching movies, reading, sampling the occasional craft beer, spending time at the beach, and snugglingwith his German Shepherd.


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