Love Letter to the Little Things: Other People’s Playlists


Shira Nathan

Finding pieces of your own experience in someone else’s playlist tells you that you’re human just like everyone else, wrapped up in a little list, title, and cover.

Late night drives. Finding a five dollar bill in your pocket. Fuzzy socks. Hot chocolate. The feeling of a worn out pair of shoes. Love Letter to the Little Things is a new column that dedicates a space to appreciating small, seemingly silly things that remind you life can be good. 


Dear playlists made by other people, 

You remind me I’m not alone, whether I’m dancing in the kitchen, driving home, or grinding through homework. And for that,  I’m writing you this love letter.  


Starting the column off with a bang, let’s talk about playlists. The right soundtrack can really transform a moment, as everyone knows.  It’s a no-brainer invention—combined music from different artists and genres, all curated to a specific mood or taste—but it’s genius nonetheless. 

But specifically, other people’s playlists are absolutely top tier. I love scrolling through Spotify and finding playlists that were clearly curated for a very specific moment in this stranger’s life. I almost never listen to my own playlists, although I have made plenty. Why listen to a musical echo chamber of your own thoughts and preferences when you could tune into someone else’s?

It’s kind of intensely intimate, but then again you will never meet this stranger nor they you.  It’s cool to experience another person’s favorite song, sing-along ballad, or crying soundtrack—a musical mile in their shoes.

 Even better than that, though, is searching a niche phrase in the Spotify search bar and discovering the many other people who have felt what you feel. Finding pieces of your own experience in someone else’s playlist tells you that you’re human just like everyone else, wrapped up in a little list, title, and cover.

The connections we feel over music are actually really complex. Layers and layers of pop culture, personal associations, cultural values, and innate human qualities all come together to result in two people listening to a playlist titled something specific like “Film Photos” and feeling the same thing, depending on their backgrounds. It gets pretty deep when you stop to think about it. 

One of my favorite playlists I have found is called “The Museum Scene”, referring to a scene in the iconic 80s teen movie “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off”. There’s a gorgeous instrumental song that plays in the background of that scene, and after watching it I desperately wanted more songs like it. I typed “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off museum scene” into the search bar, and BAM! Someone else had felt the exact desire I had—multiple people, in fact. 7 different relevant playlists popped up. With just a simple phrase, I was suddenly tuning into the brainwaves of strangers. 

And, finally, that’s another thing I love about listening to these playlists: people don’t think about how complex their actions are, or the poetry of it all. They just hear some songs, feel some things, make a playlist, and put it out into the world. 

Ultimately, this is what music is all about: expressing and sharing the human experience. It tells you that you are not alone. There are other people who cry to Mitski in their car, and that’s beautiful.