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Radio Waves | Jacqueline Molina

Some days I wake up with a song playing in my head.

Maybe it doesn’t happen right when I wake up. Maybe it’s at work, at the times when I’m on the phone helping a patient with what they need. Or leaving a store that was blasting pop-indie music for everyone to hear.

Today was one of those times. As I turn on the machines of the pretest room (I work in an optometrist), the distant, burgeoning track of Strawberry Swing starts up. Like a cloudy sunrise, streaks of sound start to bleed through until Frank Ocean’s voice begins the first verse.

Something about its nostalgic wanes push me to think about my past. Much has changed and even now forever changing. Yet I’m not here to emphasize just how disorienting 2020 has been. We already agree. The truth is I feel I’m nearing a chapter, and starting a new, unknown one entirely. It excites and scares me. The way this song is able to bring in fragments of my adolescence, teenage years, and ones from a mere year ago to the forefront is enough to make my heart full. Being easily moved by the lyrics and one who falls easily into daydreams (aka time for thinking up cool music videos!), it paints my day at work a little lighter and sweet. That this too shall pass.

Ocean’s songwriting is incredibly colorful and rich, he speaks about a dying Earth, painting strawberries on a swing as a kid, and reminding the listener that he’s “loved” the good times here and goes on to “miss” them. How even present moments are immediately past us, now past tense. Suddenly, it’s lunchtime and I get the chance to let the song take its course. I have time to walk around and relax. The doctor’s office is inside a mall, recently opened. Small groups of people are shopping, waiting in line, chatting. The hour passes, and I head back with the song still buzzing in my head.

I think the most interesting part of this song is the end; again another sound encroaches, until it fills the room. The cranky alarm clock feels like it’s meant to bring you back, ground you. It reminds you that a new day is here. I’ve never had an alarm clock that sounds just like it, so it feels strange to be once again reminded of childhood. Nonetheless, it’s a jolting way to finish.

I’m curious to see how others feel when listening to it, I’ll link it here.

To the next song that joins me, I welcome you.

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