How to build a playlist that tells a story


It’s a lazy afternoon headed into evening and you’re looking to spend a warm, cozy night in. You wrap yourself up in your most indulgent throw and sip a nice hot cup of tea. As you curl up on the couch to watch the beautiful pale orange and pink sunset glimmering through your picture window, you realize just one thing is missing…some lovely music to accompany your evening. The night needs its own playlist.

You open your favorite music app and switch through a few genres, but nothing catches your attention. You turn on (Millenials, beware. I’m about to get real antiquated here.) the radio and try a few stations. Still, nothing seems to call out to you.

You settle into the sofa, as the soft coral of the sky fades lightly into traces of navy, fuzzy shimmers of piercing white light speak of the stars to come. You begin to contemplate a few of your most memorable life happenings.

Now if you’re like me, you live in music. If someone played your life story through music, it would be a soundtrack of the most epic proportions. Heck, even your dreams are set to orchestral music.

As your mind begins to play its own tune, you ponder how beautiful it would be if you could tell your story through music.

It’s easier than you think. Even if you are not a musician “proper,” you can build a playlist filled with music that tells the story of your life.

Now, you may be wondering, “How do I, a non-musician, do that?”

I was asked once to build a playlist of my favorite songs to be featured in an organization I was involved in. Now, here I had a predicament. I’ve never been good at the “what’s your favorite (fill in the blank)” game. My interests are wide and I enjoy many things. I don’t like being boxed into favorites because there are so many colors, movies, foods, etc that I enjoy. When it comes to surface favorites, it’s more about what is complementary to what is appropriate for the moment.

So, I decided to build a playlist that would tell a portion of my story.

Now, the difficult part is always choosing the beginning. The particular story I chose was most precious and dear to my heart, so I needed to open with something contemplative. Now, depending on the story you choose to illustrate musically, you’re opening song may vary. Is your story a happy one? Start with something light. Whimsical? Start with some jazz. Dramatic? Begin with something slow and meaningful. And so on, and so forth.

You’ll want to progress through your music story in alignment with your experiences and thoughts during the spaces in time that they occurred chronologically in your story.

Let me walk you through my Music Story as an example.

My story began with an awakening, so I chose something meaningful, that builds in intensity such as Brooke Fraser’s “C.S. Lewis Song.”

After that awakening came a season full of joy and wonder that was best told through Kelanie Gloeckler’s “Catch the Song.”

Kim Walker-Smith’s “Fill Me Up,” best exemplifies the desire and depth of sincerity that grew shortly after.

As that depth grew and I began to fall deeper and deeper “in love,” I chose to show that through a series of four songs. For example, Jake Hamilton’s “Beautiful Rider” and Jenn Johnson’s “A Little Longer” to name just a couple.

As fire would come to test that sincerity, doubt began to grow. “Thy Will” by Hillary Scott was a great way to express that challenge.

When I finally realized that things were out of my control and I needed to step aside, Kelanie Gloeckler’s “Let Go Now” illustrated that revenant surrender.

There are about 10 other songs in that playlist that continue the story and wrap it up at the end. I’ll let you figure out what that story was πŸ˜‰ You can listen to it here on Spotify.

life music

The fun thing about a Music Story is that not everyone’s story will sound theΒ same, nor should it. And there is no limit. You can have a Music Story for every story you want to tell. Sometimes we just can’t find the words because words are not enough. A playlist can tell the story of your heart in the most beautiful and passionate way…through music.


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