Slaying the Slog: A playlist from Dr. Michelle McQuade Dewhirst

November is hard.

Daylight Savings Time ends, suddenly throwing us into darkness earlier than we’re used to. It gets colder. Peak fall color on the trees gives way something starker and skeletal. And if you’re on an academic schedule, your workload is probably intensifying right about now. We’re on the backside of the semester, but we’ve got lots of proverbial miles to go before we can get some proverbial sleep.

Can’t go around it; gotta go through it.

Times like these call for a little boost, some music to help you slay the late-semester slog. The theme from Kill Bill: Vol 1 sets the tone for getting down to business. Let R.E.M.’s Michael Stipe inspire confidence as he warbles “take your instinct by the reins!” Take heed of reminders from They Might Be Giants and Lou Reed and John Cale that time is of the essence, so we’d better get to work. Let Björk and the Foo Fighters fill you with steely determination to tackle your to-do list (as Dave Grohl shouts,“DONE! DONE! ONTO THE NEXT ONE!”). Queen and David Bowie know you’re “Under Pressure”, but Elton John knows you’ll still be standing when all’s said and done. After all, Destiny’s Child knows you’re a “Survivor”. You’re not going to throw away your shot. Instead, you’re gonna groove to Louis Andriessen’s minimalist masterpiece Workers Union, which sounds like what would happen if caffeine and adrenaline formed a band.

Here’s the thing, though: we’re not machines. We have to take care of ourselves, especially during busy and stressful times. So the back end of this playlist is meant to remind you that you’ve got this. Believe in yourself. Be like Forky fromToy Story IV, who finally came to realize that he wasn’t trash, thanks to the help of his friends who wouldn’t let him throw himself away. Don’t give up, because soon enough you’ll come out the other side and, like Lizzo, you’ll feel “Good as Hell”. Just follow the advice of TV on the Radio in “Province”: “Hold your heart courageously/As we walk into this dark place/Stand steadfast erect and see/That love is the province of the brave.”

It’s gonna be ok. You’ve got this.

By Dr. Michelle McQuade Dewhirst

Michelle McQuade Dewhirst is a Professor of Music at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay, where she teaches composition, horn, music theory, music history, and popular music. An active composer, her music has been performed widely by Megan Ihnen and Alan Theisen present…, Transient Canvas, Juxtatonal, and violist Michael Hall. Michelle curates UW-Green Bay Music’s 6:30 Concert Series and serves on the Advisory Committee for the newly-formed Weidner Philharmonic

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