Driving Miss Kathryn #1 – Music, Books and Conversation
“We live in cars in some cities, commuting across space either for our livelihood, or devouring fossil fuels for joy. It’s close to as much time as we spend in our beds, more for some ... “
Frank Ocean on cars & driving, Source:Mic
As part of the discussion for this playlist and drive we talked about the book my daughter Kathryn Mullen had just finished – Our Chemical Hearts written by Krystal Sutherland. The book is about loss, survivor’s guilt, the grief process and opening your heart up to someone new or for the first time. Kathryn’s assignment required her to choose five quotes from the book that resonated with her most and one is placed after each song.
Kathryn did a great job selecting the songs for Driving Miss Kathryn #1. There is an affinity among the songs. Love – unforgettable love, self-love, shallow love, love running its course and reunited love. Kathryn felt the relationship between the book and the music were irrelevant but I felt otherwise.
White Ferrari/Frank Ocean: I never heard of Frank Ocean before Kathryn and Lillian started playing his music on our drives. While I listened to music from several of his albums but given White Ferrari I spent more time on Blonde. It was released in August of 2016. Some songs I love … White Ferrari, Lost, Ivy, Godspeed others I found interesting …Be Yourself (the voice of his Mom, Katonya Breux) or Facebook Story (“relationship turmoil in the digital age”) is an actual recording of an interview Ocean did with Sebastian (a collaborator for Blonde) but there are other songs I dislike his voice such as Nikes – he modifies his voice when telling his story so the music is more believable if recorded in his simulated younger voice. There is a reason for everything he does – an authenticity to his music, an importance for getting it right.
I adore this song! First time I heard this song I thought the opening verse was “I love to talk on these rides. “What a perfect start to the song/playlist and hopefully a continued collaboration between Kathryn and me!” I thought. Turns out the lyrics are “Bad luck to talk on these rides, Mind on the road, Your dilated eyes watch the clouds float …” The song is dreamy.
Kathryn: Sometimes I don’t hear or listen to the lyrics at all I just get lost in the music. My favorite part of the song is the outro starting at 2:44.
“I would sell my second kidney to hear this song for the first time again.” Kathryn
Our Chemical Hearts
Quote 1 – Grace: ‘“I kinda like the idea’, she said. ‘That when we die, despite any pain or fear or embarrassment we experienced during our lives, despite any heartbreak or grief, we get to be dispersed back into nothingness. It makes me feel brave, knowing I’ll get a blank slate at the end. You get a brief glimmer of consciousness to do with what you will and then it’s given back to the universe again. I’m not religious, but even I can appreciate that that’s redemption, on the grandest scale.”
my future/Billie Eilish:
Kathryn: This song sends a message about self-love, growth and new identity. Today, many popular artists spread the narrative that one cannot find happiness without partnership. Eilish’s lyrics represent the importance of finding love within oneself, given that the underlying theme of her song promotes independence.
Margaret: Billie Eilish hit the music scene in 2015 with a Soundcloud download of Ocean Eyes and never looked back. Her voice is very distinct, almost dreamy as though her lyrics float on air. She is an amazing songwriter but I often find her music sad or sleepy amid her talented quirkiness. My future is a little different. The opening of the song is soft and dreamy but then becomes more up tempo. I am in agreement with Kathryn. It is a song of independence and self-love. As someone whom is recently divorced this song resonates with me. There is nothing more powerful than coming out of a less than desirable relationship and giving oneself the time to find that person they love – become reunited with yourself. I listen to this song over and over again.
Our Chemical Hearts
Quote 2: “I love you as certain things are to be loved, in secret, between the shadow and the soul.”
Kathryn: “Someone New” is such a refreshing song in the music industry. Hozier’s music brings beauty to difficult societal topics, such as sexual orientation and labels. While many other artists like to sexualize love and romance, he writes about falling in love with a person rather than a body.
Margaret: I can see why Kathryn finds this song upbeat. She’s right but the lyrics? I did a quick search on Hozier and can partially agree with what Kathryn says. Hozier may have a refreshing persona and the song is certainly catchy and upbeat. He wrote Someone New with an ex-girlfriend and released it in 2015 at the age of twenty-five. The lyrics speak of a shallow albeit honest lover. Only finding solace “with every step that I ran to you only blue or black days” which basically translates to in times of distress or sadness. “I fall in love just a little ol’ little bit, Every day with someone new …” At twenty-five I guess you are impressionable and take a bit of something from each person you come in to contact with … if you’re not comfortable in your own skin. Kathryn and Lillian, stay very far from a man likes this. If he is telling you “Go take this the wrong way, You knew who I was with every step that I ran to you, “ listen and run in the opposite direction!
Quote 4: Because apparently you still have to chase girls who can’t even run.”
Kathryn: This song reminds me of a photo album, where someone is looking back on their childhood, aka, “the good old days”. The song feels bittersweet, because while the memories are good, they are a reminder that we all grow old, trying so hard to remember a now stale feeling that once felt so fresh and new.
Margaret: The Strokes are an NYC American rock band formed in 1998. They released their first album in 2001. This song is off Our Chemical Hearts soundtrack and mentioned in the book. It was Grace’s and her deceased boyfriend’s (Dom) song. It sounds more like a breakup song than a love song … “My ex says I’m lacking in depth, I will do my best, You say you wanna stay by my side, Darling your head’s not right … Oh someday, I ain’t wasting no more time …” It’s a great add to the playlist.
Our Chemical Hearts
Quote 4: “But by the time I’d reached the end of the hallway, some of the acid had washed away. Why is it, I thought, that we’re so willing to hurt the ones we care about the most? Two days ago I loved her, and now I wanted to carve away pieces of her soul. Why was that? Because she’d hurt me? Because she didn’t love me back? You can’t begrudge people their feelings. Grace had done what was right by her. I couldn’t ask for more than that.”
Kathryn: In many of Taylor’s songs, she writes about heartbreak and mistreatment. This album, to me, feels like a new chapter. The lyrics represent both her youth and adulthood, and how love can be both debilitating and rewarding.
Margaret: Taylor Swift is one of our favorite artists. We have been to three of her concerts to celebrate KandL’s birthdays. In Kathryn’s opinion her new album, folklore is one of her best – truer to her roots. I have not listened to it in its entirety so I don’t have an opinion but cardigan is a great song speaking of an unforgettable love. “And when you are young, they assume you know nothing, But I knew you’d linger like a tattoo kiss, I knew you’d haunt all of my what-ifs …”
Quote 5: “And gradually, as her tithe was paid, the gold seams in Grace Town began to appear. After Christmas break, her limp grew less noticeable, until she stopped walking with her cane altogether. She started driving to school. Sometimes she’d wear a piece of Dom’s clothing: a knit cap, a necklace, a jacket. But mostly, she wore her own things. Slowly, as she worked off her imagined debt, she let herself be redeemed. Justice had been served. We came unstuck from each other’s lives. We deleted each other off Facebook and Instagram and Snapchat. We signed custody of Ricky Martin Knupps II over to Ryan, who renamed him ‘Fish Fish’ and loved him more than we ever could. All the ties that had connected us slowly snapped and healed, until we were separate entities one more. Until I remembered her only when the ache of longing throbbed through me: on New Year’s Eve when the fireworks went off, when I watched movies by myself in the dark, but mostly when I woke up in the morning and she wasn’t there. And all the while I loved her, just as she loved him. In secret, between the shadow and the soul.”
Kathryn asked me why Henry and Grace could not find a way to make the relationship work if they loved each other. What came to mind was reason, season, lifetime. Maybe Henry entered Grace’s life for a reason, to help her manage her grief from fatally losing her boyfriend in a car crash. And conversely, maybe Grace entered Henry’s life for him to experience his first love in all its beauty, tumultuous, painful reality. At fifty-three years old, love is no less complicated now than it was when meeting the first person that makes your heart skip a beat. What I do know, is I still believe true love exists in all its complicated beauty.
Great job on selecting the playlist, Kathryn. I hit repeat on each song over and over again. Look forward to the next one.