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The Scarlet & Black

Playlist of My Life: Molly Wilcoxson `26

Brisa Zielina
Molly Wilcoxson `26 browses her musical library on a stroll by the Humanities and Social Sciences Center (HSSC).

Growing up as a pastor’s daughter in Kentucky, some of the first songs I heard were contemporary Christian songs whose booming drums and confessional lyrics seep into my music taste today. Although their elements show up in my current rotation, I rarely go back and listen to those songs.

One of the first non-Christian bands I remember from my childhood is There Might Be Giants. I grew up listening to their children’s albums, but my dad has always been a huge fan of their entire catalog. Now at 19, I’m able to appreciate all of their music much more. “Ana Ng” is probably my favorite track from them. When my dad visited me this fall at Grinnell, we drove to Newton, trading AUX to play songs from our childhoods. As soon as I put on “Ana Ng,” we both broke out in a smile, happy to connect over our shared love of this song. They Might Be Giants reminds me of my father and our close relationship.

It wasn’t really until high school that I started discovering music on my own. One of my early favorites was Bon Iver’s debut album, “For Emma, Forever Ago. I struggle to think of an album that means more to me, or an album that I find to be more genuinely beautiful. When COVID hit during my sophomore year, my older sister and I started taking drives around the Kentucky countryside to get out of the house. This was one of the albums we had in rotation, providing the background to our hours-long drives through horse farms and tiny towns. Later in college, “For Emma” would become the first song I learned on guitar. 

Also in high school, I discovered my love for live music. During my sophomore year, my friend Philip and I saw Phoebe Bridgers together in a small venue in Louisville. It was at that concert that I discovered my love for smaller, intimate shows. There’s nothing like being in a room full of strangers, all sharing communion with one another for an artist.

There’s nothing like being in a room full of strangers, all sharing communion with one another for an artist.

Since then, I’ve seen many of my favorite artists in concert — Lucy Dacus, boygenius, Mitski, Clairo — the list goes on. My favorite thing about attending shows is being exposed to new, smaller artists opening for the main act. This is how I discovered Indigo De Souza, probably my favorite artist of all time. From the moment her opening set for Lucy Dacus began, I was hooked. She opened with “How I Get Myself Killed,” a beautiful, raw track about a toxic relationship. There is something so honest about this album, especially seeing it performed live in a cramped venue, drenched in sweat.

I started to expand my taste in music even more in college. When I was younger, I never really went out of my way to find new music, only listening to what my friends and family enjoyed. During my freshman year, however, I started to seek out new songs as a way to relax and expand my horizons. A lot of the new tracks I started listening to were folk and jazz inspired. “Morning Sun” by Dave Bixby sticks out in my head as one of the ones I had on repeat the most. This is a painfully hippie-flavored album, clearly written on some form of psychedelics. I love the track for all its quirks, including the rough production and nonsensical lyrics.

Last summer, I started to expand my music taste geographically when I challenged myself to listen to an album from every country. I’ve always loved geography, and I thought this was a cool way to learn new things. I failed my mission, only making it through about 30 or 40 albums, but much of the music I listened to during this time has stuck with me emotionally. Mali band Tinariwen’s blues rock song “Tenhert” is one of these. The discography of “Tenhert” explores the oppression of Indigenous groups in the Saharan Desert, a conflict I was not aware of until I discovered the band. Not only is their music catchy, but it also helps me learn new things about the world around me.

Now, my taste in music is ever changing. It’s hard for me to pin down music to represent who I am today because I’m always listening to something different. Recently, I’ve been enjoying jazz rap a lot, specifically “Two Worlds Apart” by Little Simz. I find her music to be relaxing, something to listen to while studying at Saint’s Rest or walking to class in the mornings. However, it’s likely that by next week, I’ll have found a new favorite.

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About the Contributors
Molly Wilcoxson, Staff Writer
Molly is a first-year intended Anthropology major with a Peace and Conflict Studies concentration from Lexington, Kentucky. When not writing, she’s probably chugging iced mochas from Saint’s Rest or stalking her friends’ Spotify accounts. She is an avid fan of over-the-ear headphones, sweet tea, Doc Martens, and Fleabag, her favorite TV show.
Brisa Zielina, Staff Photographer
Brisa Zielina is a first year and an aspiring Theater major with a concentration in American Studies from Los Angeles, California. She loves singing and acting and uses the word “slay” way too often. When she’s not slaying the day, she’s probably in rehearsal or studying on the third floor of the HSSC. If you see her around campus, say howdy, she’s always happy to make new friends!
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