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What Are Your Favorite Songs to Listen to Alone?

Whether you’re longing for seventeen uninterrupted minutes of audible bliss, a chance to cling to an interpretation of an instrumental’s narrative, or a way to savor the intimacy hidden inside a crowd favorite, sometimes music just has to be experienced when you’re alone.

It makes for a more engaged listen, you don’t have to feel judged, and you can play out the stories or memories it unearths in your head to dramatic effect.

And of course, there are some songs that just have to be listened to in isolation. But what are those songs? And what makes a song perfect for that lone environment?

In the latest episode of Soundfly’s podcast, Themes and Variation, Carter and Mahea are joined by voice actor, host of the podcast So, You Work in Entertainment, and self-proclaimed non-musician (we’ll agree to disagree on that last point), Adam Claus to discuss “Songs You Prefer Listening to Alone.”

The episode is anchored by selections from profound jazz pianist Bill Evans, instrumentally emotive post-rock group Explosions in the Sky, and Oasis, a band that really knew how to straddle the line between fame and infamy.

Listen to the full Episode 47 of Themes and Variation right here.

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Episode 47 Highlights

1. Carter on what makes Bill Evans amazing.

Carter: “I could distill it into like things that he does. His voicings are my favorite. Like the notes that he chooses to play in chords. But really, it’s something that I can’t describe. It’s more a feeling. It’s like the way that he plays, the touch that he has on the instrument. You think about a musician that has their own voice on an instrument that’s been around for hundreds of years. The instrument has so much played history in it and for somebody to develop their own voice in a way… he doesn’t sound like anybody else.”

2. Adam on instrumental music.

Adam: “The song always is a different story for me. Instrumental music is like a choose your own adventure. And depending on what you’re coming into [it] with, you know, your mood or how your day was, that story can change dramatically.”

3. Mahea on why she’d rather listen to “Wonderwall” alone than in a crowd.

Mahea: “People misinterpret it all the time. ‘Cause it sounds like this optimistic love song and it’s really, really not. It’s super vulnerable, so the fact that people sing along in giant crowds, like it’s some sort of party jam or something is really weird when you think about it.”

Episode Playlist

With every new episode of Themes and Variation, we launch a new Spotify playlist that includes the songs mentioned in this episode and more. Here’s this episode’s Spotify playlist!

We’ll see you in a couple weeks with a new theme, new guests, and some new songs to break down. If you have any comments, questions, or theme suggestions, drops us a (bass) line at [email protected]!

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Mahea Lee

Mahea Lee is a classically trained pianist and composer who has a degree from a jazz school and leads an electro-pop band. Her greatest musical passion is lyrical songwriting, but she's been known to write the occasional fugue. She graduated from Berklee College of Music, where she majored in Contemporary Writing and Production and minored in Music Theory. For more Mahea, check out Soundlfly's course, The Improviser's Toolkit.