“Songs to drink to”

create playlist #3

Create Playlist is a newsletter where I, a 2000s teen with cringe taste in music, will be stalking my friends’ Spotify playlists to discover new music and what songs can mean to people. If you’re new, you can check out check out previous editions here and subscribe now:

For this edition, I trawled through Joan Westenberg’s playlists. Joan is a writer, angel investor and creative director. She founded tech PR and communications firm Studio Self and recently launched #DIY, a book “about indie entrepreneurship, doing s**t your own way, and refusing to wait for the gatekeepers”.

I asked Joan about her playlist Songs to drink to, which started out as on burned CD way back when (a burned CD!!!!) before making the transition to streaming. As someone who burned many a CD for friends in high school, you best believe that I truly love to see it.

Listen along as you read:

  • What is Songs to drink to? What's the theme, or the vibe?

Like the title says, this is a good playlist to drink to. I think of it as being the perfect soundtrack for Nick Miller in New Girl every time his life falls apart.

  • Anyone who knows or follows you will know that you don’t actually drink - so what does the name of the playlist mean to you? 

I am a recovering alcoholic - 2 years sober - and that's been a huge win. But once upon a time, I was a walking wreck, with a huge drinking problem, losing a battle with depression. And I made this playlist as the soundtrack to all of it. So that's where the name comes from.

  • Why did you start the playlist?

This playlist is from around 2012 - 2013 I think. It started as a burned CD, and it migrated to Spotify. I was struggling with my drinking and I had just started dating the person who would eventually hold the illustrious title of My Ex Fiancé. The first boy I ever loved had tried to commit suicide and wound up in rehab. My band had just lost our record deal and I was coming off tour to an empty bank account, my parents had just been divorced and I was still reeling from dropping out of law school. I needed a good bunch of songs to get ridiculously drunk to.

  • Is there a particular time/moment/mood you need to be in to listen to the playlist? Or does the playlist help to put you in a particular mood?

Everyone needs a damn good cry, every now and then. It's quite cathartic. When things start to overwhelm me, or I need a helping hand to process something, that's when I bring it out. It's also good for quiet evenings in with my partner, but that's walking a fine line between "ah yes, peaceful indie music" and "holy shit here comes the depression..."

  • What makes a song worthy of being added to this playlist?

It's hard to say. I rarely add songs to it, now. Mostly, the playlist has stayed one way for the past 8 years. But I think at the time, I was choosing songs where the lyrics spoke to some part of me, some part of the experiences that I was going through. And I mean - it had to be sad. Obvs.

  • What's your favourite song on the playlist and why?

Probably Better Run by Army of Me. There's a lyric there...

"If you lift it from the ground,
Know you're never coming down,
Babe, if you're a boxer
And you can't stand another round,
If you're free to make a sound
And your heart began to pound.
You better run,
You better run."

…and I think with the relationships in my life at the time, it felt more like I was in the ring with myself and my worst impulses fighting against the people I loved, and I was just getting so tired. When I heard that line for the first time, I remember pulling the car over by the side of the road and crying.

  • What's the one song you think everyone should listen to off this playlist?

Definitely Here's looking at you, kid by The Gaslight Anthem. It's a gentle, quiet song, and it'll break your heart if you let it.

(CP note: can confirm - Joan introduced me to this song last year and it ended up being one of my most played songs of 2020. Also, I’ll point you to Lying to you by Keaton Henson, which Joan also introduced me to last year and features on this playlist.)

  • What's kept you coming back to this playlist?

The playlist actually comes from that time in my life, and I think now it captures a certain time in my life, the good and the bad.


That’s it for issue #4! Thank you so much to Joan for taking part - remember to follow her on Twitter and nab her book #DIY here! Keep an eye on your inbox for issue #3 and if you’ve got a playlist you want to share and talk about, hit me up. In the meantime, tell your friends 😊