Carving Mystery Out of Matter
A Playlist for Rory,
To my son, I’ve fashioned this playlist at the urging of a friend. It is a small, digital artifact of where your dad is and aspires to be at this moment in time. It is packed tightly with a few songs that, to me, embody my fledgling fatherhood, from the obvious but never overrated Cat Stevens to the dad-band record to top all millennial dad records (Yankee Hotel Foxtrot). For when I can’t sleep because you’re crying, there’s “Sleep Dealer.” For the cold winter afternoons, there’s Bill Frisell and Big Thief. Buried in each are many stories and memories of a life lived before you. Yet, they are all now colored by your presence in this world.
Frankly, the whole thing is rather calmer than I am in real life, but I hope it’s a tiny flag planted in the sublime joy of seeing your face every morning, noon, and night. Having a first kid is a singular and fleeting experience. You get bigger every day, so I’m happy to take it in and sit with you in each moment. I’m already imagining your groaning at me around age 13 for having to listen to yet another amazing song from a band I swear by. But first, you have to learn to crawl. With all the love I have in my heart and then some. Your namesake, chauffeur, chef, and dad. I love you!
P.S. If you aren’t Rory, I hope that you find comfort in the relaxed and contemplative mix I’ve put together for you too. No skips, and please, do not put it on shuffle—Panopticon will be a bit of a shock to the vibe. I’m normally too self-conscious to be this overtly sentimental, but it’s nice to give the old ego a break sometimes. Rest and love to whoever finds this!
When you imagine a New Year playlist, you might not imagine it’d be released in April or that it would effectively be a letter from a father to his newborn son. Well, you’d be wrong on both accounts. One of the many ways we do our New Year, or new seasons a disservice is by sprinting to aspiration. Without even listening to a single sunrise, we rush to superimpose our words, resolutions, and failed goals of the year gone by. In the way that only he does, BitterSweet’s long-time contributor Robert Winship presents a soundscape shaped by the time it takes to realize that something new has and is happening; and models a posture I hope we can all emulate each time we step into a new chapter. One of awe, reflection, humility, and an enduring love for both what is as well as the unknown that inevitably will be.
Obiekwe "Obi" Okolo