I’ve had a hard time writing, even thinking, retrospectively about this year. In so many ways, it’s because 2020 isn’t really ending on December 31st.
For wine folks like me, this year has been defined by a pandemic that is not just ongoing, but worse in the United States than it’s ever been; by the subsequent collapse of the restaurant industry both in New York and around the country that left me and most of my friends and colleagues unemployed, and now finds many of us negotiating compromises between our own health and safety, and economic necessity; by a summer that brought a national reckoning with racial injustice and police brutality; and that sparked, in the wine industry, a parallel reckoning with wine’s institutional racism and gatekeeping, and with the organizations that have enabled it.
None of this will be over when the calendar page is flipped. There’s no forgetting this year, what it’s done, and what it’s revealed. There’s not even the grace of looking back on difficulty: the next months will be even harder. But there is space to take a moment and regroup. There’s room for music.
So here’s a playlist for your living room, wherever you are this New Year’s Eve: for both pajama-clad dance parties and hiding under your comforter; for the unsold caviar snack pack you got to bring home from service, or the bag of bodega potato chips you rolled out to buy in a mask; for opening extravagant champagne to drink alone, or for chomping anti-anxiety CBD gummies and sipping chamomile.
I’ve looked for songs recorded this year that remind me to keep remembering to stay engaged (Noname’s “Song 33,” Lil Baby’s “The Bigger Picture”) and songs for disengaging long enough in quarantine to jump around a little bit (Charlie XCX “anthems,” Sofia Kourtesis’ “Home is Where I Can Dance”). There are songs that have given me catharsis (Phoebe Bridgers’ “This is the End,” the Mountain Goats’ “This Year”) and solace (Madeleine Peyroux’s cover of “Anthem,” Roberta Flack’s cover of “That’s No Way to Say Goodbye”).
There are also multiple versions of “Auld Lang Syne,” because I am a giant sap and I love “Auld Lang Syne.”
I hope these songs hit you the way they hit me. Remember to turn shuffle off!