Jazzing up the winter blues: A playlist for dark times

November has come and gone.

Both a never-ending exhaustion and an icy chill have welcomed themselves into my life, uninvited guests that pester me every waking moment. Eye bags give me an uncanny likeness to the lovely campus raccoons and, with rain soaking my jeans up to my knees every time I walk from class-to-class, I can’t say that I’m a huge fan of this time of year.

But, there are some aspects of winter to be treasured. No time of year affords such great opportunities for listening to music which best accompanies the special combination of rain and an impending deadline you’re quite certain you will not make. No, there’s nothing like the winter.

And so, in hopes of providing some sense of relief from the co-occurring, overwhelming academic pressure and desire to stay in bed all day, here are some calming wintery songs from some fellow UBC students.

Don’t forget to give the Spotify playlist a listen. Consider this article an invitation to put in your wired or wireless earbuds (we don’t discriminate here at the Ubyssey) and take a much-needed break from the grind. Enjoy the relaxing vibes.

Kirsten Volberg, third year

Going to California by Led Zeppelin

“Calming, kind of sad, kind of melancholy,” is how Volberg summarizes “one of her favourite songs.” She describes it as “beautiful … the first time [she] heard it, it made [her] cry.” She says, “it keeps that feeling going every time I listen to it.”

In a Sentimental Mood by Duke Ellington

“It’s a very popular jazz standard, but the Duke Ellington version is inexplicable.” Volberg remembers when she first heard this song at a tap festival. “It was a beautiful room, a lot of positive energy and it was very emotional,” she said.

Anna Pontin, first year

These Days - Nico by Jackson Browne

“I find it really comforting,” Pontin settled on, after struggling to find the proper words to encompass the emotions this song evokes for her. “Whenever I hear it, it brings me right back to the time I first listened to it, and it’s a very warm sound. It sounds like the thing you would play in the kitchen, when you’re cooking or with your family or going for a walk.”

Autumn in New York by Frank Sinatra

“I really like the lyrics, and it just makes me happy to be spending fall in the city,” Pontin said.

Robyn Warden, first year

Dreams from Yesterday by Mac Demarco

“[The song] is quite dreamy,” Warden said. “Moving from Calgary to Vancouver, it’s really nice to listen back to.” The song is “calming” and “reminds [her] of home.”

Motion Sickness by Phoebe Bridgers

Warden is drawn to this song because of the lyrics. “It resonates … [and] speaks to me a little too much,” she said. “[It] just reminds me of the past, and it’s also nostalgic.”

Cameron MacDonald, fourth year

Marooned by Pink Floyd

“It’s instrumental, and I really like alternate rock,” MacDonald said.“It’s very calming, it’s not done with too many effects. It’s just a guy with a guitar, and it really makes you feel like you’re marooned out on an island with it. He makes seagull sounds with his guitar.”

Don’t Change Horses (In the Middle of a Stream) by Tower of Power

“It’s super dreary, and gross and disgusting outside. I need something to cheer me up,” MacDonald said.

Sharon Gu, second year

Euphoria by Micki Miller

“It’s just calming November vibes,” Gu said. She enjoys listening to the song while walking around campus because “[the song] makes [her] less sad.”

I Wanna Help Your Mind by Goth Babe

“It reminds me of summer … happier times,” she said, mentioning Tofino.

Adam Mah, first year

O Grande Amor by Stan Getz

“I’ve never really listened to jazz, but I started transforming my living space pretty recently because I wanted a nice place to live and work because that's where I spend all my time.” Mah describes this song in a reflective manner, saying “it colours the air.” For Mah, this song “stops time for a little while.”

I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles) by The Proclaimers

“It has 468 million streams on Spotify [and] I am responsible for all 468 million.” Mah is a big fan of this song, saying, “sometimes, I just really need that consistency.”

With the unpredictable and constant stressors of life as a university student, I feel that. Music has the power to make the ‘dark’ times, both literally and figuratively, a little bit more bearable. As the days get shorter and the rain falls harder, take care everyone.